Soil pH is a measure of the relative acidity of soil compared to water. The scale goes from 0-14 with 14 being the most basic, or alkaline, of a substance (like a cleaning solvent), 0 being the most acidic (like battery acid), and 7 being water.
Knowing the soil pH is important for a few reasons: plants and other soil life forms have a preference for either alkaline or acidic soils, certain diseases that affect plants thrive in specific soil pHs, and also because the availability of nutrients depends on the pH.
It is important to test the pH of your soil, since grass species grow best at a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. Here in the Northeast, soil is usually slightly acidic and needs to be amended with an application of lime, but test first, because local conditions can vary.
Do not apply lime without knowing the pH of your soil! Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab can test the pH of your soil, or you can buy a do-it-yourself kit from Solvita or most home and garden stores.
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