As the welcome temperature changes this autumn, so too should your lawn care.
Even self-proclaimed turf masters can be thrown by the onset of autumn – your lawn’s growth rate slows, and patches of brittle or limp looking grass can appear.
Ross Boyle, President of Turf Australia, explains that pH imbalances in soil can often be blamed for unhealthy looking turf, and why autumn is the ideal time to identify and correct this issue.
“Soil pH levels that are too acidic or too alkaline impair how well your turf absorbs vital nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Ideally your soil should sit between 6 and 8 on the pH scale.
“Autumn is perfect for testing soil pH because any fertiliser or lime added to correct an imbalance works best if allowed to decompose through winter,” he said.
Fortunately, testing soil pH is quick and easy, and gives you the answers you need to fix turf that may need some invigoration.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to testing the pH of your soil:
1. Gear up
You can pick up a soil pH testing kit (which includes a liquid pH indicator, a white powder and a pH colour chart) for about $20 from your local turf farmer, hardware store or nursery. You will also need a teaspoon and a clean white surface like a spare tile or old plate.
2. Grab your samples
Pick two or three spots across the lawn to obtain your soil samples from. Choose a patch that appears to be thriving, and another that looks a little worse for wear – it could be a pH imbalance causing distress. Dig out about a teaspoon of soil from just under the surface and place on your tile or plate.
3. Get testing
Squeeze a few drops of the liquid pH indicator on each soil sample, followed by a sprinkle of the powder. Wait about 30 seconds and you will see the powder start to change colour. Grab your pH chart and match the colours to the scale.
4. Analyse results and take action
Anywhere between 6-8 on the scale is perfect – but if your soil is on the acidic side (below 6), you need to add some dolomite lime. Or if your soil is more alkaline (above 8), applying the patch with compost or manure will bring the pH back to normal.
You should re-test your soil every six months to ensure the ongoing health of your turf.
ABOUT THE EXPERT
Turf Australia is the non-profit representative body of the turf industry comprising of more than 200 levy paying turf producers and individual members Australia wide. For more information visit turfaustralia.com.au or facebook.com/lawnspiration.