Q: My husband and I are having a debate He wants to mix tree chips with horse manure and spread it on the raw dirt in our backyard to get it ready for grass seed or sod. I think the soil will be too rich.
A: Mediating relationships in the garden is my specialty! Your husband is correct that manure and tree shavings make a great addition to raw dirt. Your challenge, though, is to mix the rich organic matter into the existing dirt before you plant grass. This must be done in order to achieve a homogeneous layer of soil six inches deep into which grass roots can grow. If grass is planted onto a thin layer of manure/chips laid onto existing hard soil, the grass will have a poor root system and will not prosper. Before you till, scatter a pound of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet. The added nitrogen will help break down the chips in the soil.