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Soil pH and Organic Lawn Care

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

No matter how hearty your lawn cultivar may be, the overall success in lawn care is often pegged to the range of pH, drought susceptibility, and condition of the soil. Lawn care experts make a big to-do about extreme ranges in pH. In most cases, they're right: your lawn should thrive in a pH of 6.5--with a reasonable tolerance between 6.2 and 6.9. Having the correct soil conditions can make all the difference between having a lush lawn that fights off predators and weeds naturally, or one that struggles through the seasons.

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At either pH extreme, critical organic nutrients that you've added to the soil may be blocked from absorption by your lawn. When your soil pH is too high, it may need acidic amendments to reduce it. Elemental sulfur is a common organic remedy. When the pH is too low, organic lime can restore the alkaline content. If you're not sure about your soil pH, you should have it tested.

Soil Testing for Lawn Health
Anyone can purchase a soil pH test kit at most lawn care stores. However, overall quality and pH accuracy varies widely in these products. Local land-grant universities typically offer an inexpensive alternative and may actually cost less than the self-test products. Ask if your local university extension testing procedure conforms to the North American Proficiency Testing (NAPT) requirements and is backed by the Soil Science Society of America.

You can test your soil any time of year, so long as the ground is not frozen. Take a few samples from at least two inches below the surface from at least four distant corners of the lawn and from the center.

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About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.



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