If you don’t have the proper soil pH, then you can be wasting between 20% and 70% of your lawn fertilizer nutrients.
Below is some great information on why soil PH is so important to your lawns overall health from our partner Jonathan Green.
Importance of Proper Soil pH
The pH level of the soil is vital to growing lush, green lawns. Many people have a basic understanding of a pH scale, knowing that it measures how acidic or alkaline something may be. If you own a pool, then you know that correcting and balancing the pH of the swimming water is important. On a scale of 1 to 14, a pH of 1 is very acidic and a pH of 14 is very alkaline (or basic), while a pH reading of 7 is neutral. Lawns grow best in a soil that is slightly acidic to neutral (between 6.2 and a 7.0 on the pH scale).
Seemingly small changes in pH readings can mean big changes for turfgrass plants. That is because the pH scale is logarithmic. This means that a pH reading of 5 is ten times more acidic than a pH reading of 6, one hundred times more acidic than a pH reading of 7, and so on.
Here in Madison and surrounding towns, we find that most all lawns fall into the acidic side of the PH scale, so we carry Mag-I-Cal for Acidic Soils which has about 25% more de acidifying power than Mac-I-Cal Plus Products.
Mag-I-Cal for Acidic Soils contains fast-acting calcium carbonate in a highly soluble form that immediately adjusts soil pH upwards. The carbonate in Mag-I-Cal Plus for Acidic Soils increases soil pH by removing hydrogen ions (H+ ions cause acidity) from exchange sites in the soil. This process creates water and carbon dioxide. The H2O goes into the soil and the CO2 releases into the atmosphere. Without the H+ ions, the soil becomes neutralized. The calcium, on the other hand, is used by grass plants for many key functions, some of which are:
- Cell division and elongation
- Cell wall development
- Nitrate uptake and metabolism
- Enzyme activity
- Starch metabolism
For lawns with heavily impacted clay soils and those suffering from salt water or road maintenance salt burns we also suggest adding Espoma Garden Gypsum into your lawn care routine, along with Mag-i-cal for Acidic Soils.
How can I determine my Soil’s pH?
At Madison Earth Care we keep soil testing kits from the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory on site for you to use at home. These kits come with a soil sample questionnaire to pinpoint the issues you would like to work on. Aside from lawn recommendations Uconn can also make recommendations for different shrubs, perennials and fruit crops.
For $12 plus postage these kits are worth their weight in gold.Allow 7-14 business days for results.
How Should I Gather my Soil PH Sample?
Go to four locations on your lawn. We suggest a sunny area, a shady area, a bare spot, and a weedy area. Using a garden trowel or spoon, dig one inch out of the soil and take a small sample. Follow the same procedure at the other testing sites. When you have four samples, mix the soil together in the bag to get a representative or average sample.
How Much Mag-I-Cal Plus Should be Applied?
For Acidic Soils:
- pH of 5.9 to 6.7, apply Mag-I-Cal Plus once per year.
- pH below 5.9, apply Mag-I-Cal Plus twice per year (at least one month apart).
For Alkaline Soils:
- pH of 7.0 to 7.5, apply Mag-I-Cal Plus once per year.
- pH over 7.5, apply Mag-I-Cal Plus twice per year (at least one month apart).