Soil pH testing should be an important part of any home landscaping
program. It is not just for serious gardeners like many people think. If
you want a nice thick, lush, green lawn, the correct pH levels will
help you get the most out of your soil and fertilizers.
More and more people are using compost for topdressing lawns and their gardens. It's important to note that plant damage can occur if compost maturity is not reached. At the end of this article is an important video on Co2 testing for compost maturity.
There is some great research being done with composting. If you are planning to get involved, you should familiarize yourself with garden blogs, forums, and some of the websites doing testing and research.
The soil you purchase at suppliers for your lawn or garden is usually a blend of topsoil and other organic matter. serious gardeners will PH test this soil before adding the amendments is may need for the particular plants they have.
You can easily do this with a home soil test kit. These kits are readily available at garden centers and by ordering online kits.
What is pH?
For those of you interested in a more technical definition of pH, here is the Wiki pH link for you.
At Dream-yard, we try to put things as simple as possible. PH is a measuring scale to see if your soil is acidic or alkaline. The scale is from 0 to 14 with 7 being considered neutral. Anything below 7 is acidic, and anything above 7 is alkaline.
Grass does best with a pH of around 6 to 7. Plants can vary from one to the next. Some plants do well in acidic soils, and some do well in more alkaline soils. This can sometimes make gardening a challenge, but having soil test kits at home will help.
Here is a simplified definition for the term fertilizer.
Fertilizer - Any material put on, or in the soil to improve the quality or quantity of plant growth.
With this definition in mind, having the right pH level will help ensure the effectiveness of fertilization programs you may be using. If your PH is significantly off, your lawn and plants may not respond with color or growth changes like they should.
Adding lime or anything else to change the pH of soil is
guesswork if you haven't first tested the soil. You could be wasting
money, or even causing negative effects to your lawn or garden.
A few thoughts on changing pH
Generally, the east cost of North America has a more acidic soil from the rains. The dryer regions of the west tend to have a more alkaline soil, but this is not always the case. You should have your soil tested before you begin if you are unsure of what the conditions are.
If your soil is very acidic, you will want to bring up the pH level by applying lime. This will help neutralize the acidity.
It's important not to raise the pH level too fast, or by too much at one time. This can have damaging effects on your lawn.
If the soil is very alkaline, than you may have to use sulphur, or an iron sulfide enriched fertilizer to lower the PH level.
So how do you test your soil?
For those serious gardeners, you probably have your own home soil testing kits. These can be purchased at most garden centers.
Scott's used to have a pretty good mail in program for those interested in fertilizing properly. You could mail in your sample and then download the results. (Unfortunately this program has recently been discontinued.)
We are currently looking for a replacement similar to this program. There are still many different places to purchase soil testing kits. The ph testing kit is handy to have around.
Compost maturity and co2 testing.
For those of you using compost in your gardens, or on your lawns as topdressing, we highly recommend visiting our friends at Solvita for important information about co2 testing for compost maturity.
Solvita also provides a wide range of home soil testing kits, and
are one of the top companies in the field of soil testing. Enjoy the
video and the links under it as well. Please visit their site for more
great information on soil testing.
Solvita Home Soil Testing.
Solvita GardenCare Kits in 2012 now include the Solvita pH tester soils and composts. The pH kit included in GardenCare now provides 15 tests, two test tubes, color chart, and interpretive guide. Solvita GardenCare Kits
Solvita Field Research (Woods End Laboratories, Inc. Holistic Testing of Soils and Composts.
Table of Contents: Landscaping Yards
F. Buying Rock
Table of Contents: Buying Soil
Hot new release of our time and money saving e-book
How to avoid the biggest mistakes made by DIYers, designers, and landscaping companies.