Winter is a great time to have your soil tested. Soil tests provide evaluations of the soil pH and the availability of essential elements. Soil pH plays a key role in the ability for plants to uptake essential nutrients required for suitable growth. An excessively high or low soil pH can lead to severe plant health issues.
Northern Virginia lawns are often acidic due to the soil’s clay composition and heavy deposits of natural vegetation. If the soil pH is too acidic, lime should be applied. Lime increases the soil pH of acidic soils into a range more suitable for plant growth. A common mistake is to apply lime indiscriminately without getting the soil tested. Lime will only improve growing environment if the test shows the soil to be acidic. If the soil is neutral or slightly alkaline, lime will not improve soil conditions, in fact it could further intensify an improper pH issue.
*Your landscape can provide clues to pH conditions. Hydrangea flowers are blue in acidic soils, whereas plants growing in alkaline soil will produce pink flowers.