What is pH and Why it is Important for Lawn Care?
When practicing good lawn care, there are often so many things to keep in mind that remembering the pH level of the soil may not seem as important. In reality, knowing and monitoring the pH level of your lawn can improve several factors of its health and growth.
pH is the measure of acidity and alkalinity in the soil. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 indicating neutrality (like water). In gardening, pH numbers indicate the following:
- 0-5.5: Acidity
- 5.5-7.0: Neutrality
- 7.0-14: Alkalinity
pH is not only used in gardening, but in measuring chemicals in food and medicine as well.
Different levels of pH are important to the growth of plants. Most garden plants, especially fruits and vegetables, thrive at fairly neutral pH levels, such as 5.5-6.5. Other plants may do better in more acidic soil, like blueberries, hollies, azaleas, and rhododendrons. Lawns, for the most part, flourish at slightly alkalinized soil levels, with pH around 6.0-7.5.
What Affects Soil pH?
pH is largely affected by what goes into the soil. Soil under pine forests tends to be more acidic, while soil on top of limestone contains more alkaline. pH is also affected by the location of the soil, which is why the standards for acidity and alkalinity may change based on the local region.
How to Determine Soil pH
There are several ways to run soil test to determine where your lawn's soil pH stands:
- Soil Test Kits: Test kits can be purchased at garden centers or hardware stores to do independently. Instructions may vary for each, so read them carefully before using.
- Professional Lawn Care Services: If you own a large green space or simply don't know where to start in testing your soil, hiring a professional lawn service helps relieve much of the burden of figuring it out all on your own. They may also be able to provide more detailed results about your soil.
Evaluating pH Test Results
Depending on the results of your pH test, you may need to take action in raising or lowering the acidity or alkalinity of your soil.
To raise the pH, you will need to lime the soil. See here for more information on how to lime the soil. (Please link this to the article, "Liming: How it can improve your soil quality")
To lower the pH, you can do things such as aerating and raking compost into the soil, or you can try applying an aluminum sulfate formula to bring it back to more neutral levels.
As pH is a great indicator of nutrient availability, it can greatly influence the decisions you make in the type of fertilizer or plant food you use on your lawn. If you have the wrong pH level for your grass and other plants, it won't matter how much fertilizer you apply because the plants won't be able to take up nutrients and utilize them efficiently.
To learn more about how pH can affect your soil, get in touch with a professional lawn care agent to see what you can do to improve your lawn's pH and overall lawn health.