How to identify soil pH for a healthy lawn

Soil pH is often overlooked but is one of the key ingredients to a healthy lawn. If you've watered, mowed and fertilized properly and still have a sickly lawn, overly acidic or alkaline soil could well be the problem.

How to identify soil pH for a healthy lawn

Why check the pH?

Grass is mostly content in a soil that's slightly acidic. If you've never checked your lawn's soil pH, it's a great idea to take soil samples and have them tested. Don't be intimidated; it's a simple process both to test and to correct any problems.

  • Check your soil pH by calling a garden centre, university or local company that tests soil samples. They'll tell you how to collect and submit samples.
  • Remember, different parts of the yard can vary significantly.
  • Once you know the pH, the garden centre will help you determine the best treatment to achieve a more grass-friendly pH.
  • It's inexpensive and just a matter of applying the proper amounts of nutrients with a spreader.

Tips on pH

  • Once you adjust your lawn's pH, test it again in four months to see if it has maintained the correct pH range. Treat it again if necessary. Once you've established a consistent level, retest and adjust it (if necessary) every three years.
  • Inexpensive, do-it-yourself test kits for pH testing are available at garden centres but aren't very accurate. For reliable results, get a professional analysis.
  • Don't mix the front and back yard samples. The whole idea is to tell which areas need treatment. Pay to have each area tested separately.
  • Pelletized limestone is the best way to raise pH levels. Iron sulphate or sulphur is generally used to lower pH. Applied incorrectly, however, this treatment is potentially damaging to your lawn, so be sure to follow the directions.
  • Grasses in soils with high or low pH values won't make the best use of naturally occurring or added fertilizers.
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