Lawn Problems: Calcium Deficiency

A healthy lawn requires certain nutrients, including calcium. Along with magnesium and sulfur, calcium is a secondary nutrient needed for plant protection and growth. Not only are calcium-deficient plants more susceptible to diseases, but it's also more difficult for them to absorb other essential nutrients.

Calcium Functions in Plants

Pests and diseases can destroy one's lawn; however, plants containing calcium are less likely to succumb to these common problems. This is because calcium acts as a barrier between a plant's cells and pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Calcium also encourages cell division and elongation, helping a plant's stem and roots achieve optimum development.

Calcium-rich soils also possess more nitrogen. Nitrogen is the most vital primary nutrient because it's responsible for the growth of plants shoots. Without nitrogen, lawns cannot thrive. In addition to aiding growth, calcium also stimulates metabolism and enzyme activity in plants.

How to Correct a Calcium Deficiency

Although fertilizer use can reduce calcium levels, acidic soil is the most common cause of calcium deficiencies. This is because the pH level of soil is instrumental in calcium availability. A plant may be suffering from a calcium deficiency if it either has dead plant tips or if its leaves are curling in. To determine soil's acidity, you will need to perform a soil pH test. You can do this by either purchasing a home soil test or contacting your local cooperative extension. If it's determined that the pH level is too low, there are steps that can be taken to increase its pH level.

If applied correctly, lime is a valuable product that can benefit a calcium-deficient plant. Lime is commonly used to raise the pH level of soil; however, it can also do a variety of other things. In addition to changing the pH level of soil, lime provides plants with calcium and magnesium. It also reduces the soil's solubility and limits the toxicity found in aluminum, manganese, and iron. If the soil is too acidic, these nutrients can hinder a plant's growth.

One of lime's most beneficial attributes is that it increases nutrient uptake, making it easier for a plant to obtain primary and micronutrients like phosphorous, zinc, and copper. Using lime can also stimulate bacterial activity, improving soil structure. Adding organic matter or compost can also boost soil quality.

Liming Materials

Derived from natural, finely ground limestone, calcitic and dolomitic limestones are the two main products used for liming. Natural limestone is insoluble, making it difficult for water to travel through it. Therefore, limestone has to be ground finely before being added to the soil. Although using either product will raise the soil's pH level, dolomitic limestone also possesses magnesium.

It can be a hassle to use finely ground limestone because it's dusty and hard to spread. For this reason, garden centers sell either "prilled" or "granular" limestone. Unlike calcitic or dolomitic limestone, these products can be easily spread across one's lawn.

It can be a challenge to correct a calcium-deficient lawn. Therefore, prevention is the best approach. With regular maintenance, your lawn is less likely to be affected by a nutrient deficiency.

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