You do a lot for your yard over the year. Now that winter is here you can relax and spend more time indoors with the family. But there is one more thing you can do to your lawn before you hibernate. The soil in Virginia tends to be highly acidic. With soils this acidic it can be hard for most lawns to grow well. Adding lime in the winter can get your soil levels balanced in time for spring green-up.
What is Soil Acidity?
When acid levels increase, it makes it harder for phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients to be absorbed by the plant. Soil pH is measured on a scale from 0-14. Soils with pH values of less than 7.0 are considered acid or sour. Soils in Virginia range from 4.5 to 6.3 on the pH scale which means they are very acidic. When soils are this acidic it can make it difficult for grass and other plants to grow.
Soil acidity is caused when magnesium, calcium, and potassium are replaced by hydrogen through farming, erosion, and leaching.
Conversely, if soil pH gets higher than 7.0 the soil is considered alkaline or sweet. Sweet soils have high amounts of sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Alkaline soil makes it harder for plants to get the nutrients they need and can result in stunted growth. To bring alkaline soils down to proper levels you can add sphagnum peat, elemental sulfur, aluminum sulfate, iron sulfate, acidifying nitrogen, and organic mulches.
First Test Your Soil
Although soil tends to be more acidic in Virginia on average, it still varies in intensity from place to place. Getting a soil test is needed to better understand where your soil pH levels are and in turn be able to correct it. A soil test can also show you which elements are missing from your soil and how much to add to fix the problem. Soil test kits are available at garden centers and nurseries and can provide an immediate reading of your soil’s pH and nutrient levels.
Correcting Soil Acidity
As we mentioned, acidic soils make it very difficult for grass and plants to take up phosphorus and potassium. So trying to fertilize your lawn while your soil pH is out of balance would have little effect. The only way to bring soil pH back up to optimal levels is by adding lime.
What is Lime?
Adding lime to your soil helps increase calcium and magnesium and brings aluminum and manganese to non-toxic levels. It increases your plants’ accessibility to nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Correcting soil pH encourages more microbes that benefit plants and lets you get more out of your fertilizer.
When and How to Apply Lime
You can apply lime to your soil any time of the year but fall is ideal. This is because most farmers apply lime in the spring and finding some could be difficult. Spread lime evenly and uniformly across your yard with a spreader. Applying lime unevenly can result in growing problems for several seasons.
Get Professional Lawn Care From NuLeaf
Knowing what to put on your grass and what time can be a daunting task. At NuLeaf it is our job to create efficient lawn care programs to elevate the quality of your lawn. Take the burden of lawn care off your plate next year and invest in lawn care from NuLeaf.
At NuLeaf we have years of experience dealing with Virginia trees and the pests that harm them. Our tree and shrub care program will improve the health and look of your trees and get them prepared for winter. Call us today at 703-989-9405 or contact us on our site. Don’t forget to check out our blog for more helpful tips on lawn care.