Most of our warm season turf lawns have now gone dormant for the winter curtailing many lawn chores until next spring. Once we have done a final mowing and raked the leaves we, just like the turf, are ready to take a couple months off from our lawn maintenance activities.
However, there is one winter activity that can be done now that can certainly pay dividends later. It is a great time to take soil samples and start correcting the pH if found that it is too low for good turf growth.
Liming sources (calcitic lime and dolomitic lime) take months to alter the pH, so putting lime out now will give you a head start for next spring. The winter rains during these idle months will help get the lime reacting in the soil.
No more than 50 pounds of a liming material per 1,000 square feet should be applied at any single application. Therefore, if the pH is very low it may take a couple of tons of lime per acre to actually get the soil within the range you need for good turf growth. That means you may have to apply lime several times over the course of the year.
If you have not taken a soil sample in the past couple of years it would be prudent to take one now. Your local Extension office can assist you in getting these samples prepared and shipped to the soil testing lab.
Published December 6, 2010
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. email@example.com