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Thread: Lawns and Grass (pH adjustment of soil?)

  1. #1

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    Lawns and Grass (pH adjustment of soil?)

    I figure there's several intelligent people here that might be able to help me out without registering for a multitude of other forums to try and get some insight and suggestions.

    We used Virginia Tech's soil lab to get a test done on our lawn as it's "Patchy" with a "spring Mix" to put it nicely. (Or dead spots, weeds, and clover to be more accurate).

    Hopefully my formatting will be readable, anyway here's what we came back with:

    Code:
    (all in lb/A)
    P     51  (med-high)
    K   115  (Med)
    Ca 1169 (Med-High)
    Mg  203 (High bordering on Very High)
    
    (In PPM)
    Zn   7.9ppm (Sufficient)
    Mn  8.3ppm (Sufficient)
    Cu   0.6ppm (Sufficient)
    Fe  17.6ppm (Sufficient)
    B    0.1ppm  (Sufficient)
    
    Soil pH:          5.4
    Buffer Index:  5.95
    Est-CEC:         7.8 (meq/100g)
    Accidity %:    34.2
    Base Sat %:   65.9
    Ca Sat %:      53.3
    Mg Sat %:      10.7
    K Sat %:          1.9
    
    Crop: LAWN MAINTENANCE - BLUEGRASS, FESCUE (202)
    612. LIME RECOMMENDATIONS: Apply 150 pounds of agricultural limestone (ground, pulverized or pelletized) per 1000 square feet in several
    small applications of up to 50 lbs each, at intervals of 1 to 6 months, until the full amount is applied.
    
    991. Numbered notes are viewable at http://www.soiltest.vt.edu/Files/publications.html
    
    208. FERTILIZER RECOMMENDATIONS:  Use any complete "turf-type" fertilizer according to the instructions in the note on lawn
    fertilization.  (A "turf-type" fertilizer is typically high in nitrogen, and has little or no phosphorus and potassium, e.g., 25-0-7.)
    Now based on our yard being about 0.33 acres (14,000+ square feet) - their recommendation seems like a ton of lime.

    And since lime usually includes the Calcium as well, will that bone us?

    What's the best method of adjusting our soil pH while keeping everything else happy?

  2. #2
    RobinGordon's Avatar
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    Oh gosh - imperial measurements.
    Apply 737 lbs of lime to the area 3 times
    Best applied just before small rain event - such as 10-15 mm of rain.

    Lime is CaO and reacts with the acid in the soil to create Ca+ and H2O. Much of the Ca+ will attach itself to the soil particles and be pretty innocuous.

    Calcium is unlikely to be an issue in your garden because the soil is quit acidic. I assume that you're either in a moderate to high rainfall area (greater than 500 mm per year) or the land was previously agricultural or both.

    Ca is a great cation to have in the soil - it prevents clay dispersion (horribly mucky clay that sets really hard) and promotes soil stability and ped formation.
    By boning, I presume you mean form a calcium hard pan. Unlikely in such an acidic environment.

    Gordon (soil scientist) (sorry for the shortness - holding kitten in one hand)

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    RobinGordon's Avatar
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    Oh, and with nitrogen-rich fertilizers - DO NOT apply before rain. Apply before a couple of days of dry weather and water in. The rain will leach the nitrogen out of the soil and you'll end up fertilizing the neighbours downhill instead.

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    Gordon, that's unfortunately about what I expected to hear, but I appreciate the reply!

    Any tips of putting down down that amount of lime? Or where to acquire it in large batches? I know the local big box stores (Home Depot, Lowes, etc) have 40lb bags and I've got a "mini" walk behind seed spreader, but that seems like a painful and expensive way of going about laying out that much lime.

    I wonder if any of the farm supply places would have something?

    Oh, and by "boning the yard" - I don't know what a Calcium Hard Pan is - but I meant just upsetting the balance of nutrients that are there currently. The way I read the report, I think we're good on most nutrients/micro-nutrients, but just out of whack with the pH balance.

    --ShaneC - Not a scientist.

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