View Full Version : Help with application

Envy Lawn Service
11-24-2002, 08:43 PM
OK, quick facts on this one...

Did a renovation on Oct. 19th (Mellinnium Tall Fescue Posts)
Did self soil test, PH=Alkaline, N-P-K=very low
Ran weighted tine dethatcher & aerated
Applied 17-17-17 heavy

Got good germination, growth and frost resistance.

Three weeks in, applied 17-17-17 heavy again along with an app of Ironite.

Now, being 2 weeks since the last app, I did another soil test.
PH=less alkaline N=very low, P & K=good

I don't see any real results. Greener or more growth.

Is it the temps?
Am I making a mistake testing now?
Should I apply a nitrate form of nitrogen since it does better in cooler temps? (N was sulfate form on other 2 apps)


11-24-2002, 09:27 PM
What is the ph now and what type soil (sandy or clay). Is it possible that you're dealing with high sodium soil. This can be the case when ph is greater than 8.5 You can lower the ph with elemental sulphur but I need to know the ph whether the soil in sandy or clay to give you a general idea of the lbs/1000 sq ft. If the soil in sodic, you'll need to incorporate gypsium in the soil.

Envy Lawn Service
11-24-2002, 10:24 PM
All I know is the PH is 8.0 or above. These self test kits are not an exact science for real high or low readings. They are more for giving a ballpark idea of where you stand. You can see where you are between 5.0 - 8.0 on the PH scale. If you are at the top or bottom it's hard to know if you are say at 8.0 or 9.0.

I wish I could have had time to send off a soil sample for a full work up :(

The soil is clay.

This is my first run-in with alkaline soil. Acidic soil is much more common. Nothing that lime & time can't fix.

11-25-2002, 09:56 AM
Elemental sulfur will lower the ph but it will only work when temperture is warm. (75+). The reason is that bacteria has to work on the sulfur to form acid. Also you have to be careful because the resulting acid can burn the turf. Do not apply more than 5 lbs/1000 sq ft per application and retest in 4-6 weeks. Continue until the ph is nutural. It is best applied after areation which, if im guessing right, is needed anyway. It may take as many as 6 applications to get the ph in the 7 range. If the ph is in the 8 range, its going negitively impact the uptake of nutrients.

Envy Lawn Service
11-26-2002, 10:07 PM
Above 75 degrees huh? That poses a problem now doesn't it! I won't be seeing those temps for a while.

The 17-17-17 was an ammonium sulfate form of nitrogen.

11-26-2002, 11:39 PM
I hesitated to recommend it because I've never used it but aluminum sulfate (alum) will immediately lower the ph. I'm afraid to advice on the application rate. If you decide to go this route, follow the labeling and advice from your supplier and you'll be ok. Here in middle Georgia, we don't have trouble with 75+ temps and I've used the elemental sulfur. Most of my applications are for acid loving ornimentals and blueberrys. However, I have had a lawn or two.

Envy Lawn Service
11-27-2002, 12:05 AM
I've forgotten to thank you, so thanks! :)

Now...given what I have already applied, if I wait for spring and 75+ temps, will I get some correction of the PH then?

What does all of this have to do with low nitrogen levels after all I have applied? I have some 22-3-14 slow release w/ 10% sulfer. Should I go ahead and apply that?

I was tempted to add some ammonium nitrate before I started this thread. As of right now I'm glad I haven't applied anything else. I've got this sodium content to deal with as well. The best thing to do is send off a soil sample for a full workup to see where everything stands. Being as I have did some recent applications, when should I take the sample?

11-27-2002, 10:12 AM
My recommendation is to get a laboratory soil test. Compare the results to your test kit to see if the kit is reliable. If the ph is above 8, apply aluminum sulfate at the label rate which should immediately decrease the ph. Kit test the soil in a couple of days and reapply if necessary. If you're ph is 8 and above, I believe you really need to lower it. I think the problem is with the uptake of nutrients due to the high ph rather than the fertilizer you are using and maybe soil compaction due to sodium. If you choose to go with the elemental sulfur, wait until spring. If the temp is much below 75, you'll see no results with the sulfur because of no bacteria action. Even at 75, its limited and really doesn't kick in until 80-85 degrees. The aluminum sulfate is immediate because of the chemical reaction when the alum mixes with the soil. I would contact your Dept of Agriculture for the application instructions.

Envy Lawn Service
11-27-2002, 02:56 PM
I contacted the NC Cooperative Extension. They assure me that such alkaline soil is extremely rare around here. This has been my experience as well. That's why I'm very short on knowledge about this.

I guess there is the possibility that maybe the test kits I used didn't react correctly to the acid. Maybe too old or something. I have compaired them to lab tests and they were accurate.


Anyways, it's going to take somewhere around month to get lab results back from the state. Not good! I really wanted these seedlings to be more mature prior to even colder weather setting in.

What to do now to get them growing quickly :confused:
The million dollar question! Probably a guess at best.

I fell lucky to be able to pick your brain. You obiously have a great deal more knowledge and understanding of things than I do.

Now, the sodium content, how exactly does that relate to compacted soil? How do you correct sodium levels if they are too elevated?

11-27-2002, 04:46 PM
First let me address your question about how sodic soils relate to compaction. High sodium content causes soil aggregates to break down and the soil structure to decline--- i.e. prone to compaction. I guessed this was the case because your ph is high (8+) which is indictive of sodic soil. The only way to be sure is a complete soil test. If the soil in sodic, the fastest correction is incorporate calcium sulfate (gypsum).
Second, If it were me, I'd be reasonably sure of my ph test. If the ph is much greater than 7 I'd apply aluminum sulfate to get it below 7. It's going to be about as quick as it gets. If I couldn't get any other information, I'd apply 25-30 lbs /1000 sq ft. May take a couple or three applications. Ammonium sulfate and nitrate will also lower ph but its a longer proposition. My question is why the ph is high in these isolated areas. Is it possible the soil has been grossly over limed in the past? It's either made made or natural. Any ideas which? Also what did the Coop Extention folks say?

Envy Lawn Service
11-27-2002, 05:38 PM
Originally posted by Fvstringpicker
My question is why the ph is high in these isolated areas. Is it possible the soil has been grossly over limed in the past? It's either made made or natural. Any ideas which? Also what did the Coop Extention folks say?

That's exactly what they asked....

From my understanding in talking with the clients and there neighbors, the area was a large gardening area for many many years. So it either had crops on it or was just allowed to lie and was mowed over mybe once a month. But for several years proir to them moving there, it has had nothing planted on it.

They have been living there for about eight years now. It has probably averaged about one fertilization per year.

The only lime that has been applied in the past 8 years in a small amount I applied last season. It was by no means a lot. I came back and did it a little after a fertilize application I did. Basically it just seemed to turn the nitrogen off in the lawn. I haven't put any more lime on it since.

I wish these folks would have taken a full maintenace contract....

11-27-2002, 08:36 PM
My guess is that it's been overlimed due to the garden. What's puzzling is that after 8 years I would think it would have stablized. Naturally, you don't want any more lime. If these folks want decent looking turf, the ph is going to have to come down from 8. The turf is not going to take up the needed nutrients if the ph is that high. I hope all this has been helpful.

Envy Lawn Service
11-27-2002, 09:13 PM
Yes this has been most helpful! I've decided I'm going to hang on applying the calcium sulfate & aluminum sulfate until I get a soild sample and get results back from the state.

I think I'll just go ahead with the 22-3-14 slow release w/ 10% sulfer fertilize for now and pray.

Dang, I really hope this one doesn't fail. I tried to avoid doing this renovation in the first place because common bermuda was allready established. Hate that stuff.

Anyways, I'll try to stick some pics on here afterwhile.

Now for the sodium part again. Is it possible that it came from the city water system? They did some sprinkling this season.

As far as the compacted soil goes, the core aeration seems to have worked wonders on the top. all the rain since the core job has helped out too. You're right though. Very compacted to begin with. I've aerated before only to has it back hard packed in a short time.

To be honest I've even had to set shrubs for them with a post hole digger :laugh:

Envy Lawn Service
11-27-2002, 09:50 PM
Here is a pic showing the somewhat lime green coloration. The brown is dormant bermuda showing in the thinner germination areas. Frost probably added to these spots a bit as well.

Envy Lawn Service
11-27-2002, 09:52 PM

Envy Lawn Service
11-27-2002, 09:58 PM
Here is a close up. It appears healthy other than the fact it has just stopped growing and the color. The seedling appear strong but there just seems to be no more maturing going on.

Envy Lawn Service
11-27-2002, 10:05 PM
This is a full sunlight pic. I'm posting it to show the lush thickness of it in most areas where it has germinated well.

Envy Lawn Service
12-04-2002, 06:30 PM
Check out the color now!!!! :( :cry: