Lime is used to temperory change soil pH. But lime is a salt and will kill soil organisms. But a better way, faster and permenant change, is the use of compost teas to adjust soil pH. Afterall, its the soil organisms that determine one's soil pH.
Nitrifying bacteria remove ammonium, and produce nitrate. They aren’t taking up the N, that are just using it to deal with the electrons they need to get rid of in respiration. In order to grow and perform their function, they will drive a soil more alkaline. As they utilize H ions during metabolic functions, the soil will become more alkaline.
So if you soil is acidic ( Below 7 pH) bacterial dominated tea will elevate your pH, make it more alkaline.
If you soil is alkaline (Above 7pH) fungal dominated tea will reduce your pH and make it more acidic.
"But how can normal soils have lower pH than neutral? Different organism dominance. Fungi produce organic acids as major components of their metabolism, but not the STRONGLY acidic organic acids that occur in anaerobic conditions. So, when we test soils that are aerobic, and fungal-dominated, the pH is always somewhere between 5.5 and 7.
This means the nitrifying bacteria are not major players in converting ammonium to nitrate, and so ammonium stays ammonium in fungal-dominated, pH 5.5 to 7.0, healthy forest soils.
Some scientists say that bacteria couldn’t possibly have that much effect on soil. Each individual bacterium is so small, how could bacteria have much effect on anything in soil? These people clearly don’t understand soil, or how many bacteria are in soil. In a healthy soil, there are 600,000,000 individual bacteria per TEASPOON, or gram, of soil. In conventional ag soil, there may be only 1,000,000 individual bacteria per gram of soil.
Consider that the only reason there is enough oxygen in the atmosphere of this planet for aerobic organisms to function is because anaerobic bacteria produced enough oxygen as a waste product to change the composition of gases in the atmosphere. Humans exist only because those tiny creatures performed their functions.
Why is it not possible that bacteria could alter soil pH? They altered the atmosphere of this planet. Why not soil?
Consider the real world, not a greenhouse or lab soil. Nitrate doesn’t exist in soil without the biology present and functioning. Without the organisms to alter the form of N, plants won’t grow. Now, when people add ammonium to the soil, they alter the normal flow of nutrient cycling. When people say plants take up ammonium, what you need to say back, right away, is, But is that the form of N that will keep that plant healthy?
What form of N do different plants need? Some scientists say that N is N, it doesn’t matter where it came from. Could that possibly be true? Think about yourself. What form of N do you need? What if you consumed your N in the form of nitrate? You’d be dead in a very short time because your kidneys would go into failure. If you didn’t consume enough nitrate to kill you that way, you’d starve to death. People can take up nitrate, but it will kill us. Is the form of N important? Can people consume ammonia? You’ll die even faster if you try that form of N.
Is the form of N important? Of course it is. Plants have similar requirements. If all you give a plant is nitrate, it will take up nitrate. But is that the correct form for that plant to grow without stress?
If the only thing you give your plant is ammonium, will that plant take-up that form of N? Yes, but is the plant growing in a healthy fashion? If the plant now needs fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, etc in order to grow, this is not healthy. All inorganic N is highly leachable. Stop destroying water quality by putting these leachable forms of N in your soil or potting mixes."
You don't want to use gypsum as it is a salt also. Never use gypsum, lime or add sulfur to your soil. All will kill soil organisms.
Subject: Re: Salt Damage
You know I live in the midwest and I too have grass along the street that gets the salty snow. I have not had major problems with the grass dying. I did have some grass die from using salt on my driveway and shoveling it onto the yard though. My biggest problem with the grass next to the street is it failing during the summer. It requires tricky watering so as to minimize the waste of water because of the long narrow rectangle shape. I found if I water, fertilize, and mow high that area does well. I also try not to shovel snow from the street onto my lawn but into the street instead. The salt probably is the culprit of your grass dying, but if you minimize the street snow on your lawn and follow Paul Wheatons ideas you will probably do fine. I have had good luck so far. I still have other issues that I am addressing but I think I am on the right track. I personally have not tried the pellitized gypsum mainly because I feel I have things fairly under control.
Subject: Re: Salt Damage
I've never had to deal with salt. In some of my permaculture reading, I stumpled across some areas where nothing will grow due to salt stuff - but I would skip over the solutions because I've never had to deal with it.
If the salt is gonna keep coming and coming and coming - the cheap and lazy thing to do seems to be to give up on having a lawn there. For me, I would think about making some raised bed gardens that would be about two feet tall. That way, 95% of the salt wouldn't make it to the top of the bed.
Subject: Re: Salt Damage
I saw a product at Menards called pelletized gypsum made by Nutrasoft I believe. I am pretty sure that the package claimed to help areas damaged from salt. Paul Wheaton may have more insight on this.
Subject: Salt Damage
Hello all. I just bought a house in ct. I have been using the scotts system on my lawn until reading the posts on this site. no more poison for me! But thats not my question. On all of the yards in my area, the very front of the yard next to the street is either dead or all weeds. I know that this is from the snow plows dumping salt on my grass. I am removing all the soil in the area and putting down soil and seed. my question is there any way to prevent this from happening every year. My neighbor told me he seeds the area every year and every spring the grass dies. any ideas? thanks in advance.