Soil-related Problems

August 23, 2018
  • Shallow Soil Related Problems

Soil Related Problems

Turf near building sites and high traffic areas may suffer from problems not always obvious to the eye. Shallow soil and compaction result in improper root functioning or root growth being restricted. The end result is increased sensitivity to environmental fluctuations.

Shallow Soils

When soil depth is reduced by some form of rooting inhibitor, the condition is referred to as shallow soils. This condition can result from buried debris or shallow rock outcroppings. Generally turf will not show signs of problems until it is under heat or cold temperature stresses. These areas are more susceptible to environmental conditions (i.e. drought) and become stressed and even die under extreme cases. In order to resolve the problem, remove the buried debris, if possible, elevate areas with topsoil, and reseed the area.


Soil CompactionSoils under turfgrasses in high traffic areas often become compacted to the point of root growth being restricted or improper gas exchange occurring. Water infiltration is reduced and there is a decrease in the porosity which reduces oxygen availability. These areas often conform to foot paths, animal paths, and areas where heavy equipment follow the same routes. Symptoms of compaction include increased sensitivity to drought, rust diseases, and temperatures stresses and appear as browning or low quality turf areas.

Overwatering is a common problem, since compacted soils generally have less air space. Excess water results in slowed root growth and often shallow roots, so when conditions warm up the turf is more easily drought stressed.

Extensive renovations or mechanical aeration can help correct compaction depending on the extent of the problem. Redirect traffic movement from the problem area. Grasses which show increased tolerance to both wear and compaction also can be selected. The goal of any corrective measure is to improve gas exchange and water and root penetration.



L. J. Giesler. (1997). Abiotuc Turf Injury. In F. Baxendale, Ph.D., & R. Gaussoin, Ph.D., Integrated Turfgrass Management for the Northern Great Plains (pp. 174-175). Location: Nebraska