As the temperature changes this autumn, so too should our lawn care.
Even self-proclaimed turf masters can be thrown by the onset of autumn — the lawn’s growth rate slows and patches of brittle or limp looking grass can appear.
Turf Australia president Ross Boyle said pH imbalances in soil could often be blamed for unhealthy looking turf, and autumn was the ideal time to identify and correct this.
‘‘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,’’ he said.
‘‘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.’’
Mr Boyle said testing soil pH was quick and easy, providing the answers needed to fix turf that may need some invigoration.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to testing the pH of lawn soil:
Gear up: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 a turf farmer, hardware store or nursery. You will also need a teaspoon and a clean white surface like a spare tile or old plate.
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 the tile or plate.
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. Using the pH chart, match the colours to the scale.
Analyse the results and take action: Anywhere between 6 and 8 on the scale is perfect. 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 compost or manure will bring the pH back to normal.
Re-test the soil every six months to ensure the ongoing health of your grass.
For more information, visit: turfaustralia.com.au or facebook.com/lawnspiration