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Soil Analysis and conditioning plan

 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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I had my soil analyzed.

Organic Matter 7.6 VH
Phosphorus weak 210ppm Strong 211ppm
Potassium 77ppm rate M
Magnesium 69ppm rate m
Calcium 548ppm rate L
Sodium 38ppm

Soil pH 5.1 Buffer index 5.8

Cation Exchange Capacity meg/100g 6.0

Percent Base Saturation K 3.3%, Mg 9.6%, Ca 45.7%, H 38.6%, Na 2.8%

Nitrate 23ppm, 41 lbs/a,

Excess Lime rate: L

Soluble Salts mmhos/cm .2, Rate L


The one that stood out was the PH. The garden center gave me a plan of 12 pounds of lime per 1000 ft^3 now, again six weeks from now, again twelve weeks from now. Retest 3 weeks after last lime application.

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or advice. The goal here is a nice lawn that is chemical free. My tortoise and my parrot play on and eat the grass and anything else growing. Chemicals are not an option.

I applied nematodes a few weeks ago as grubs have been a problem. I put down Millorganite as soon as the snow was gone (very late this year). I aerated a bit last fall with a hand aerator. (It's not great but it does cut small plugs and isn't just poking holes).

I had salt damage next to the driveway, and the strip between the house and the driveway was super compacted. I put gypsum down yesterday to help some with that.

The grass looks great right now. It's a mixture of turf grasses and white clover (I like the clover.) But I know that as soon as it gets hot, the weeds start to take over, and there are sections that just burn out and die. I get so much crab grass that the show "Deadliest Catch" filmed an episode in my yard last summer. I suspect some of this is soil condition, some is topsoil depth.

I'm located just north of Boston. I'm about a mile from the Atlantic, but there is a hill between me and the ocean. I don't think salt is an issue. I think we are in zone 6.

I mow high and often. I do not bag the clippings. I water when the lawn looks like it needs it and when I do, I water 1" (which is a TON of water.)

I don't know if I can lime so soon after putting down the gypsum.

Forgive the long post.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2004
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My strategy towards soil is that it's easier to change the plants than the soil... Perhaps a different species of grass would handle the low pH of the soil just fine and look great when mowed as a lawn? Are there areas close by, with similar soil, where fine bladed grasses are thriving? Do you already have some of those types growing in your lawn?

As an example: I have an area in deep shape where grass wouldn't grow... One year a single clump of grass appeared and survived the summer. I mowed around it until it's seeds were mature, then I chopped and dropped the seed. I repeated for a couple of years. This spring, the area is about 30% covered with clumps of that grass. I am holding off mowing there until the seed is mature. Then I'll chop and drop again... I'd get faster results if I grew a nursery bed of the grass and sowed the seed into properly prepared soil. But slow and steady works for me.

 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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I gypsumed and limed this week. I used quicklime.

I set the spreader to the setting that was supposed to put down 12lbs per 1000 ft^3. The 30 lbs didn't quite cover my 1700 ft^3 yard. I guess the setting number is wrong, or I'm using the spreader wrong. At any rate, the lime is down.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Since you used quicklime (C2O or calcium Oxide) be sure to water it in very well, it is a caustic that will burn the feet of animals. It will however quickly raise the soil pH.
For a longer lasting increase in pH you would want to use Agricultural lime or Dolomitic Lime, both are longer lasting in the soil since they are calcium carbonate.
Quick lime is also known as Burnt lime since it is made by cooking limestone in furnaces, mostly it is used in cements and other construction materials such as asphalt.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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The lawn is actually doing pretty well.

I mowed on Friday night. It rained all weekend. We got about 3" of rain. On monday afternoon I mowed again and the grass has grown so much I had to bag the clippings as I was just taking too much off the top.
The milorganite fertilizer doesn't seem to work as quickly as the other stuff, but it seems to work better and longer. I top dressed with about 100 lbs of compost in places that seemed the worst. The lawn is now like a thick, cool carpet. The only real weed infestation is clover, and I don't mind the clover. In fact, I'm pretty sure I planted it years ago. The clover seems to grow best in spots where there used to be trees. I suspect that the stumps and roots left underground use up nitrogen making nitrogen poor soil in this spots in which the clover thrives.

Due for the second application of lime tomorrow.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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The lawn is growing like crazy. There is a lot of swamp grass starting to infiltrate, and I have more clover than I've ever had. I have also ferlilized more than in previous years (Milorganite).

I'm surprised that I have ended up with more clover while I've been adding N. Perhaps the gypsum or the lime is contributing to clover?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
152
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Sounds great, you have released the nutrients the soil holds and the plants are sucking them up. Nitrogen fixers take nitrogen from the soil and make it more useable once you chop them and let them return the N to the soil via decomposition of the new mulch created by the chop and drop.

The clover is most likely responding to the combination. The lime and gypsum have a loosening effect on soil particles and that is a very good thing for roots.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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That all makes sense. I don't hate the clover. I was just surprised to see it explode like it has.



Here is a small bit of the clover. The birds are in the cages now, because they can fly. No more romping in the lawn until they get used to the harness. The tortoise has not learned to fly.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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This is a part shade area. This area did not get much lime because of the Holly bushes that are out there.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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Most of this in in full sun most of the time. It is a fine-bladed grass, I think it might be fine fescue.
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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This is what shows up in the sunniest spots. It's not crab grass as it doesn't spread that way. I don't know what it is. Everyone around here calls it swamp grass. I think it's an annual. Annual Rye, maybe?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
152
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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The blades on that swamp grass look a lot like Nut Grass, if you were to dig one plant up by the roots there would be little nodes (nitrogen fixing bacteria homes) in the roots of Nut Grass. Swamp grass usually has a tall growth habit instead of the growth habit those blades indicate.

By the way, very good looking lawn
 
John C Robinson
Posts: 29
Location: Lynn, MA (Zone 6A)
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:The blades on that swamp grass look a lot like Nut Grass, if you were to dig one plant up by the roots there would be little nodes (nitrogen fixing bacteria homes) in the roots of Nut Grass. Swamp grass usually has a tall growth habit instead of the growth habit those blades indicate.

By the way, very good looking lawn


Thanks.

I pulled some up and it has very shallow, hair-like roots. Maybe it IS crab grass and just can't spread because the lawn is fairly thick?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 1992
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
152
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That is very probable. You have created an environment that is not conducive to crab or nut grass spread by having very healthy grass plants. It looks like, from your pictures, that you have fescues and maybe some Kentucky blue grasses growing nicely. As you lawn thickens, those unwanted grasses will most likely disappear from being unable to compete.
 
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