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Disking my lawn

 
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I'd like some suggestions on improving my yard (including a lot I own behind my house).  I’ve dug down about a foot in a few spots and I have between 0 and 3 inches of topsoil on top of well packed clay (every time it rains, it’s a swamp for days… there’s little organic to soak up water).  The lot I own behind my house (1/2 acre) was brush hogged and cleared yearly until 6 years ago (it’s been untouched since).  Now it’s got tall weeds, brush, small cedar trees, as well as some fescue mixed in.  Besides a tangled mess of vegetation, and minimal soil, there are deep ruts all over.  It’s impossible to take more than a few steps before stepping in a hidden washed-out spot (great for twisting/breaking ankles).   I don't know if it's clear from the attached picture but the yard & lot have some gentle slopes and dips that I don’t want to get rid of but smoothing out the ruts is a high priority for the family to use.

One person I talked to, suggested disking it multiple times to chop up the plant life that’s there, break up the hard-packed clay, fill in the ruts, and mix it all together.  It seems like the best use of what’s there.  Is there any problems with that idea?  Any other ideas on improving that ground for a better yard?

If disking is best, I assume something will need to be planted there to hold the new ground in place so all the good stuff doesn't just wash away.  I'd like to plant something that would put nutrients in the soil or at least do well at becoming future soil as it decomposes.  What would be good to plant so it’s ready to go for planting grass in the fall?  I live in a somewhat urban area of central Missouri if that helps determine what plants would be ideal.

Thanks!!
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Posts: 231
Location: Central IL
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Well many people don't like disturbing the soil structure, it will take a little bit before harmony (statis) is re-established.  I'm curious what others have to say though.  I too hate the washout ruts I have.  I'm pretty much just tending to what's there, keeping and adding organic matter as much as I can, and hoping for the soil to soften up enough to smooth out like a more "fluid" soil...

What you describe sounds logical...
 
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Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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How do you intend to use your space in future?

Your plan of disking the lot and improving the soil sounds good, except the planting gras stuff.

I would instead throw in some seeds of annual dynamic accumulators after disking the lot. Bee attracting plants are often aesthetical pleasing and low maintanance, too. If you don't intend to use the lot completly you could simply mow pathways in your dynamic accumulator meadow. If you choose the seeds wisely you have a blooming ocean from spring to fall and only have to cut the stuff growing there once or twice per annum.
 
They weren't very bright, but they were very, very big. Ad contrast:
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