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Understanding Soil pH and Your Lawn

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Understanding Soil pH and Your Lawn June 15, 2017

Soil pH can make or break a lawn. Unfortunately, far too many homeowners aren't aware of their pH levels, how to test them or what to do when there's a balance problem. So let's talk about why it matters.

The basics of pH

As you may remember from chemistry class, pH is a measure for how acidic or alkaline something is (both extremes usually being very bad for organic life). The scale goes from 0 to 14, or from most acidic to most alkaline, which each increase representing a major logarithmic change.

Soil pH is a key concern for farmers, nurseries, forest conservationists, and anyone else who's interested in how plants grow–including homeowners with lawns and gardens. Soil pH is derived from a very complex mix of minerals and matter that all contribute to a final number. Every species has a pH zone in which it grows well, but out of which it will struggle to survive.

Why pH balance is so important

You can start to see where problems creep in when maintaining lawns and other plants. Suppose you buy fertilizer designed for shrubs that you planted by your house. One of the features of this fertilizer is that it raises pH levels to make the soil more alkaline, which the shrubs love. But that fertilizer washes out into your lawn, lowering the pH balance there...and your grass prefers acidic soil. Grass starts to die out, but it's quickly replaced by new weeds that prefer alkaline soil, and suddenly a corner of your lawn is looking pretty nasty.

Ignoring pH levels can lead to problems like this or can be responsible for weak, weedy lawns that never seem to improve.

Testing your soil

So, pH levels are important. Now what do you do? If you have a problem with your lawn or garden, take a look at these important testing steps.

  1. Find out the ideal pH for your grass or other plants you care about. The good news is that most lawn grasses prefer a largely neutral to slightly acidic pH level. The bad news is that individual grasses have differing ranges, so you'll still need to do a little research.
  2. Take soil samples from around your yard. It's important to take soil samples in several different locations so you know what to expect. Keep the samples clearly labeled so you know what you're working with.
  3. Test the soil and record pH levels. DIY tests are easy to find online and in stores, but follow the instructions carefully to avoid incorrect readings.
  4. If the pH levels don't match up with your grass's favored zone, it's time to make some changes. Limestone quickly raises pH levels, but to lower pH you'll need to start a long-term organic mulch and lawn care strategy.

To make it easy, Inspect-All Services offers organic lawn maintenance programs designed to control pH levels. Best of all, they can start you off by doing the pH analysis for you, help you choose the right grass for your soil and provide regular applications of organic additives to keep it green and healthy.

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