Soil pH, an important element in proper plant care, is a measure of its relative acidity or alkalinity. For most plants to thrive, the pH needs to be in the range of around 6 to 7, which is only slightly acidic. A low pH, which indicates very acidic soil, is problematic as it prevents the plants from absorbing nutrients. For example, in a soil with a very acidic pH of 4.5, it is estimated that around 70 percent of the fertilizer applied is wasted because plants cannot use it. If your soil is too acidic, you can add agricultural lime for the lawn; When used systematically as a soil improver, it can help adjust the overall pH of the soil away from the acidic side and back towards neutral pH levels.
Signs that your lawn needs lime
The ability of plants to absorb nitrogen is particularly influenced by the pH of the soil; That is why lawns are particularly sensitive. Nitrogen is the soil nutrient most responsible for green foliage, and peat lawns are nothing more than green foliage. A lawn that is struggling to grow in acidic soil can show the following signs:
- Weak growth
- The presence of lawn moss
- Insect infestation
- Failure to respond after treatment with fertilizer
- Washed out color
Some turf grass species are more tolerant of acidic soils. Kentucky bluegrass, for example, likes the soil more alkaline, while fescue and bentgrass tolerate more acid.
Soil pH test
While acidic soil tends to be noticeable by turf grasses that are not thriving or having problems with moss growth, the only way to check if acidic soil is a problem is by taking a soil pH test. You can purchase DIY soil test kits at garden centers and hardware stores, but these tests are often unreliable and the information may not tell you how much lime your lawn needs. For the same amount of money (and a little more time – maybe two to three weeks), you can have your floor tested by a local consultancy. Most university expansions test the soil for around $ 10 to $ 20, and the report you get usually offers a much more detailed analysis of the composition and pH of your soil.
Follow the extension instructions to collect the soil sample. It is usually best to take multiple samples from each large area of lawn and mix the samples for each area together before bagging it for testing. Be sure to let the tester know that you would like to learn more about liming your lawn. You will likely do something called an SMP buffer test on your samples to see how much lime to add.
Soil pH is mainly determined by the area’s climate and underlying mineral content. Geographical areas where the topsoil is over limestone cliffs, for example, tend to have alkaline soils, while areas with a lot of rain tend to have acidic soils. Your area may have had acidic soil problems in the past and there may be a longstanding tradition of upgrading garden and lawn soils to reduce acidity. Check with a local garden center to see if acidic soil is a common problem in your area.
How to use lime as a soil improver
There are several types of agricultural lime that are used as soil conditioners to correct pH levels, but the form usually applied to lawns is powdered, powdered limestone, or chalk. Lime with a high calcium content is called. designated calcitic Lime and it has the benefit of adding calcium to the soil. Some limestones contain a significant amount of magnesium and are considered to be Dolomites Lime. Dolomite lime adds magnesium to the soil and can be recommended if soil tests indicate a magnesium deficiency. Which type of lime is best to use depends on the results of your soil test.
Most types of lime can be applied with a standard lawn spreader. After you’ve limed your lawn, water it thoroughly; This will help the lime get to the bottom where it can begin to decompose and work.
Lime can be applied to a lawn at any time of the year when the earth is not frozen, but it is usually done in spring or fall. It is best to apply lime after aerating the lawn. This supports uptake and allows some of the lime to penetrate deeper into the ground.
Test your soil again every year until its pH is satisfactory. After balance has been restored, continue testing your soil every three or four years.