One thing that most organic lawn services and lawn consultants do is test the pH of your soil to determine whether it requires some additive other than basic lawn fertilizing. Ideally you would get your soil tested professionally which would be much more accurate and it would also give you an idea of what lawn nutrients your soil may need for a healthy lawn treatment.
If you’re seeing a lot of weeds and your having trouble keeping the lawn green, you may have soil that is either acidic or alkali. Most grasses seem to grow best if the pH of the soil is between 6.5 and 7.0. If your soil is below 6.5 then it is acidic. it’s probably ok as long as it’s above 6.0, otherwise the soil should have lime added it. Soil that is above 7.0 is to alkaline and should have gardener’s sulfur added to it. Most gardener’s supply stores have both lime and sulfur. Soil that is exactly 7.0 is classified as neutral but most grasses like a slightly acidic soil (between 6.5 and 7.0).
I searched around for a ph test kit in a number of gardener supply stores but when I asked for a soil ph testing kit they gave me an odd look and one girl actually referred to me as “being geeky”. I eventually gave up on finding a commercial kit and started looking into other alternatives.
There seem to be two popular methods of obtaining the pH of your lawn soil. Neither of them are notably accurate, but it’s not an exact science so we don’t need extreme accuracy just to get the information that you need for the appropriate organic lawn treatment. Try not to do this shortly after a rain or within two weeks of applying green lawn fertilizer.
1. Red Cabbage pH Soil Test
After boiling chopped up red cabbage, it is possible to use the strained juice to discover the relative pH value of your soil. Red cabbage juice has a neutral pH value and it changes color depending on the pH value of the soil. Acids tend to turn it pink, and bases (alkaline) turn it blue or green. Ideally you want to see a violet color for good soil.
When I tried this out, the result was slightly green and barely noticeable.
2. Vinegar and Baking Soda Test
Another way to roughly estimate the pH level of your soil is to use baking soda and vinegar and add it to a very small soil sample. If you mix a soil sample with distilled water and add some baking soda to the mix, soil that is acidic will fizz. With the vinegar test, if the mixture of lawn soil and vinegar fizzes then your soil is fairly alkaline.
Good soil will not fizz at all and that’s what my lawn soil did when I tested it.