The Real Dirt About Clay

Clay soils, in general, have not enjoyed a resounding reputation among those of us who try to grow things in areas where people stomp, kids play, and wheels roll.

Yet, if we conduct a check with Mother Nature to see where she grows most of her grass, we will find ourselves somewhere in the clay end of the soil spectrum. She doesn’t try to grow too many of her grasses in sand, I wonder why??

Sand doesn’t store enough of the water, nutrients, or oxygen that Mother Nature requires for the grass to grow. Also, for a healthy root zone, there must be a place for soil microbes to grow. If that’s the case, what’s wrong with clay?


What does that really mean? When clays succumb to the compactive forces that we subject them to in the backyard, on the golf course, or on the athletic field, the natural porosity is destroyed. That means we reduce the number of voids between the clay particles. These are areas where the water, air and nutrients are stored and where the microbes live. Without these pore spaces, there is no storage space and without storage space there is no space for roots to grow.

As clay compacts, it is primarily the large, air- holding pores that are lost, leaving the remaining pores holding water. That means mud! Few plants like to grow in mud.

Believe it or not, an undistributed, clay based soil has a very high percentage of pore space. A well-structured clay has high total porosity and a good balance between water holding and air holding pores. It also has a high capacity to store nutrients and provides a good habitat for microbes.

If only there was a way to prevent clay soils from becoming compacted…

Now there is. Turface Soil Modifier, a porous ceramic, is a special blend of clays with very high (74%) porosity, balanced evenly between water holding pores and air holding pores.

It won’t compact. When Turface is incorporated into a clay soil, it simply adds pore space—- permanent pore space that won’t recompact. Within this new and permanent pore space, roots grow, air, water and nutrients are stored; and microbes live inside the tiny porous granules.
Turface can be rototilled into garden and flower beds, as well as new lawns, prior to planting.