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Landscape Maintenance vs. Lawn Care: What’s The Difference?

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If you feel like you’re doing everything right but your lawn is still lacking in color or thickness, or even producing a lot of weeds, there might be a soil pH lawn problem at hand. 

The fact is, healthy soil is a critical aspect of a thriving lawn but is often overlooked (or misunderstood) by homeowners. Unfortunately, in Northern Virginian communities like Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, our soil can be naturally very acidic (not to mention clay-like in nature). This can make it difficult for lawns to perform their best. 

Since we believe you ought to be able to achieve the lawn results you’re after, we’ll explain more about why the soil pH of grass is important and how to remedy problems with it. 

Problems with an Improper Soil pH of the Lawn

If you think back to your high school chemistry class then you might remember that pH is a way to measure the amount of acidity or alkalinity that is present. It is measured in pH units on a scale from 0 to 14. 

Soil at the midpoint, a number 7, would be considered neutral (neither acidic or alkaline). Extreme acidity is at the low end of the scale, extreme alkalinity is at the top end.  

Since the pH scale is logarithmic, this means that a soil pH o 6 is 10 times more acidic than 7. A soil pH of 5 is 100 times more acidic than a 7. 

That means a pH which you could assume is only slightly off can be a pretty big problem. In our area, it’s common for pH to fall to a 5 or 6, which is a substantial deficit that should be monitored and addressed regularly. 

Incorrect soil pH can cause several problems that need to be addressed. As the pH falls or rises too far from neutral it alters soil chemistry and prevents the grass from taking up nutrients as it should.

grass with bare spots and poor soil ph

When the lawn is experiencing a soil pH problem, it can manifest as several key problems including the following.

  • Grass Thickness: The grass is thinner than it should be.
  • Grass Color: The grass might be yellowing or not as green as it should be.
  • Weed Pressure: When soil health is struggling and the grass is not performing its best, opportunistic weeds will take advantage of these conditions and start to fill in bare spots. In fact, some weeds actually prefer to grow in lower pH soils meaning you’ll have soil that is better for weed growth than it is for grass.

How Can I Know What the Soil pH of my Lawn Is?

Given the problems it can cause, you want to be able to determine what your lawn’s soil pH is so that you can determine what’s needed to correct it. This is where a lawn soil pH test becomes so valuable. 

Lawn soil pH testing is a regular part of any of the three lawn care program options Kingstowne Lawn & Landscape provides. While many lawn care companies like to use soil testing as an upsell and don’t include it in all of their packages, we believe it is too vital to leave out. Monitoring soil pH is essential given its powerful impact on lawn care results. In other words, we understand that our program will not be as effective as it could be if there is an uncorrected problem with the pH.

Correcting the Soil pH of Grass

One of the key ways in which we correct soil pH problems for Northern Virginia lawns is through a limestone application that is performed in the late fall or winter. On average, soil in our region is usually around 5.0 on the pH scale. Anything that gets into the 5.5 or lower will mean your lawn is struggling to use the full potential of the fertilizers being applied to it. This is why the pH must be remedied with a limestone application.

lawn care technician applying limestone treatment

Of course, exactly how much lime to add to a lawn depends upon its pH, which explains the importance of the soil test. It’s not like every customer gets the exact same amount. It is a completely customized application which is why it’s important for us to be able to work from the numbers provided by the soil test.

It’s also important to recognize that not all limestone is created equal. The quality of the products out there can vary dramatically (and that can obviously impact your results). Many companies are utilizing the cheapest limestone they can buy in order to save some money.

At Kingstowne, we utilize a high-quality calcitic limestone. We have found that calcium also helps reduce soil compaction, which is also a common problem due to our region’s clay-like soil. This application will help your lawn to perform its best.

Unfortunately, if you work with a lawn care company that does not take the steps needed to adjust your soil pH, then your grass is not going to be as healthy as it could be. Grass plants could end up losing some color and vigor, leaving you with an off-color or thin lawn—or one that is crowded with weeds.

Choosing a Lawn Care Company with Your Best Interest at Heart

Kingstowne lawn care technicianIn the end, this comes down to finding a company that truly cares about helping you get the best possible results for your lawn. Companies that fail to offer soil testing, or are using it as an upcharge, don’t necessarily have your best interest at heart. They’re trying to make as much extra money off of your lawn as possible while leaving you frustrated with subpar results.

You also want to work with a company that offers limestone applications as part of their program as these are commonly needed in Northern Virginia properties. One of the benefits of working with a full-service lawn care company is that soil pH is just one issue amongst many that your lawn could be struggling with. But a well-rounded lawn care professional will be able to diagnose exactly what’s going on and know how to fix it.

Your soil is often an undervalued part of your lawn’s health but the truth is that it supports the life growing in it. By choosing to work with a company that focuses on soil health, and giving your lawn what it needs, you can feel confident that you’ll be getting the best possible results.

Are you ready to have a healthy and thriving lawn, knowing any soil pH concerns are being fully addressed? Request your quote, choose from our 3 lawn care package options (all of which include soil testing), and relax as you get the royal treatment.

Learn About Our Lawn Care Packages 

Krisjan Berzins - Owner, CEO

Since 1997, Krisjan has led the Kingstowne team with one simple philosophy, treat every customer like the “only” customer. His passionate pursuit of impeccable customer service has resulted in 24 successful years and a thriving company with over 85 employees, helping thousands of homeowners in the Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, VA area get what they want -- a worry-free property they can be proud of.