Soil PH is an important aspect of gardening and farming, and lawn farming is no exception. What does ph mean? The PH of the soil refers to the indication of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil, usually measured in PH units. The PH scale runs from 0 to 14, with seven being neutral. PH levels below 7 are acidic, whereas those above seven are alkaline.

The Importance of PH Levels 

PH determines how soil absorbs nutrients and water. If you do not have the proper PH level for your lawn, 70% of nutrients in lawn fertilizers go into waste simply because the soil cannot absorb them. A lawn cannot thrive without the necessary nutrients, and this is why the PH of soil is important to measure.

An understanding of the PH of a lawn acts as a guide on which nutrients the soil needs. Understanding PH assists in determining the amount of fertilizer and nutrients that need to be applied to the lawn. Furthermore, it enables you to know how to tend your lawn throughout the year and get perfect results.

Testing the PH of Soil

When to Test PH

Before growing a lawn, it is important to do soil testing to identify the PH level as well as other soil characteristics. Testing can be done at any time of the year, but autumn is the best time overall. Testing in autumn allows you to spend the winter correcting the PH before the growing season begins.

How to Test

Wondering how to test your soil for the PH level? Here are a few ways of determining the PH of your soil:

  • Observation; observing various features of the soil can help in determining if the soil in your lawn is acidic or alkaline. For example, a poor combination of the surface layer with the mineral layer indicates acidic soils. Caliche layers show that soil is alkaline.
  • Predominant plants; PH can be measured by just looking at the plants that grow on your lawn. Different plants require different soil PH. If plants that require acidic soils are growing in your lawn area, then the soil is acidic. The vice versa is true.
  • Use of testing kits; an inexpensive testing kit can be bought to determine soil PH. A small sample of lawn soil is mixed with the testing solution, which changes color according to the PH. Different colors indicate different PH levels. 
  • Use of a litmus paper; this is simple. A small soil sample is mixed with distilled water and a litmus paper inserted. If the soil is acidic, the paper turns red. If it is alkaline, the litmus paper turns blue.
  • Use of an electronic tester machine; the machine is immersed in moist soil, and the PH of the soil is indicated on the machine in digital form.
testing your ph level

The PH should be measured more than once and at different parts of the lawn for accuracy purposes. Soil PH measurement in the wrong way can cause serious farming mistakes.

More on the Different Soils and Their PH Level 

Acidic Soils

Acidic soils have a PH level of 6 and below. Various factors make soil acidic, including rainfall. Soils in areas of high rainfall are usually acidic because rainwater is slightly acidic. Root respiration also causes soil acidity because they release CO2, which increases levels of carbonic acid.

The use of fertilizers can cause acidity in the soil. Ammonium fertilizers can cause acidity when they react in soil, releasing hydrogen ions. Acid rain also contributes to acidic soils because the acid in the water goes directly into the lawn soil.

what is soil ph

Alkaline Soils

Alkalinity in the soil can be increased by the addition of minerals containing sodium. Additionally, it can be brought about by the addition of water that has dissolved bicarbonates in it. In areas with little rainfall, soils are likely to be alkaline because there is no sufficient water to leach soluble salts.

Can the PH Be Changed?

Yes, it can. Different PH levels favor the growth of different plants. One does not have to grow certain plants that thrive in the current PH level if they do not want to. The solution is to change the PH of the soil and grow the plant of your choice.

Here is how the PH can be changed:

Increasing PH of Acidic Soil

To reduce soil acidity in a lawn, the application of lime is very effective. The amount of lime applied depends on the nature of the soil and its ability to absorb the lime. Soil with high levels of clay content is less likely to absorb lime fast. More lime is needed in such a case.

Soil with a lot of organic matter is also not good at absorbing lime, meaning that more lime may need to be applied to it compared to soil with little organic matter. Clay and organic matter act as buffers against lime absorption. Other chemicals that may be applied to reduce soil acidity include; wood ash, calcium oxide, and calcium silicate.

Reducing the PH of Alkaline Soil

Acidity in the soil can be increased by adding sulfur to the soil. Sulfur oxidizes into sulfuric acid. Another alternative would be to add acidic fertilizers to the soil. Acidifying organic materials like peat may be added to lawn soil to increase its acidity.

all about the ph levels of your soil

Comparison Between Lawn Soil and Garden Soil

PH requirements for soil will depend on the crop that the owner intends to grow. Whether it is in the garden or on the lawn, the PH levels might differ, but they can be corrected to suit different plants. Different plants thrive well under different PH levels, and this is why soil testing is important in the first place. 

The PH should not limit the type of plant one grows on their garden or lawn. All one needs to do is correct the PH levels accordingly and plant the crop of their choice. It is as easy as that.

PH Level Requirements in Missouri

Lawn growers in Missouri often plant turfgrass because it thrives under the area’s climatic conditions. Turfgrass requires soil PH ranging between 6 and 7.5 and grows exceedingly well in the right PH range. Test the levels and correct them accordingly to make sure your lawn grows healthy and beautifully. 

If testing the PH of your soil seems overwhelming, contact the lawn care experts of Lee’s Summit today. Summit Turf Services provides custom lawn care programs and services, and are here for you and your lawn throughout the entire year. Learn more about our services here