Maintaining the proper pH of your soil is vital to establishing a healthy lawn. To correct an unbalanced pH level in Suffolk County, additional lime is usually needed.
Soil pH is the measure of soil acidity or alkalinity. A pH of 7 is neutral; a pH below 7 is acidic and a pH over 7 is alkaline. Most turf grasses will tolerate a pH ranging between 5.5 and 7.5. However, turf grass will perform best in the range from 6.0 to 7.0, with 6.5 being ideal.
The soil pH is dependent upon many factors, such as geography. Many eastern soils are low in pH, while soils in the western part of the country may be more alkaline.
If your pH is out of balance, there are several negative implications for turf grass:
Nutrient Availability - Essential plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are tied up and not available to the lawn with an improper pH level. For example, Phosphorus is usually found in adequate amounts in most soils, but will not be absorbed by plants effectively if pH is too high or too low. Iron deficiencies will be found when soil pH levels are over 7.0.
Beneficial Microorganisms - Bacteria that decompose organic matter are ineffective in strongly acidic soils. Poor decomposition will lead to thatch problems. If a lawn has a thatch problem, it is often because the soil pH is too acidic. Microorganisms also take part in the responsibility of breaking down certain nitrogen sources.
Moss Problems - Moss, which is technically not a weed, is a problem in many cases caused by poor soil pH and where environmental conditions promote its growth. If your pH is less than 5, then adding lime to your soil will usually help minimize the amount of moss and in some cases even correct the moss problem. If moss cannot be corrected or controlled by adding lime, then usually that indicated that turf will not thrive in those areas because of other condition such as excess shade or moisture.
Diseases - Certain turf diseases are more damaging in soils with poor pH.
Toxicity - Some elements may become toxic to turf grass when the soil's pH is completely out of balance.
Fertilizer waste - Many fertilizers will be wasted because they will not be as effective. In result, your turf will not be a vibrant green and may not appear as healthy.
How do i find out if i need a Lime application?
A soil test is used to determine soil pH. If it is determined that soil is too acidic (under 6.0), then granular lime applications will be needed to eventually correct that. If the soil is too alkaline (over 7.0), then granular sulfur applications will be needed in order to bring the pH within reasonable range. Both lime and sulfur applications can be done at any time of the season, but is recommended in the fall, above all other seasons. Lime applications are particularly effective when done in conjunction with core aeration. In most cases, several treatments of lime or sulfur are needed over a season or in some cases, even two season in order to bring the soil's pH into the tolerable range.