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Winter Woes and Your Soil
March  2015

Lawn Damaged by Road Salt

WOW...what a winter it's been!  We can only hope that it will be over soon! You've had to spread a lot of ice melter this winter on your drive and walkways and some of it has gotten on your lawn where the salt build up can play havoc with your turfgrass!  Most of the salt used for deicing is sodium chloride-ordinary rock salt or table salt.  The salt runoff that is deposited on your lawn or nearby plants causes dehydration of the plant tissues. Salt in the soil is absorbed by grass and plant roots and prevents roots from taking up water.  The symptoms become evident as lawn and plant growth begins in the spring.  Deicers spread after March 1st, when plants are beginning to break dormancy causes the most damage because plants are actively growing and taking up soil water. Too much salt in the soil can alter the physical structure of the soil.  Excess sodium prevents soil from forming clumps.  Poor clumping makes soil vulnerable to compaction, reducing soil permeability and aeration and increasing the likelihood of soil erosion and surface runoff. High salt concentrations in the soil restrict the uptake of potassium and magnesium by the grass plant.  The lawn that has a high salt concentration in the soil will lose color rapidly and burn more easily during the hot summer months, especially during periods of hot dry weather, when soil moisture becomes limited.  Soils that have a low pH and are acidic are affected more rapidly when soil sodium levels are high.  When you make your first fertilizer application in the spring, the fertilizer which is also acidic by nature, further complicates your soil problem. If your lawn has sustained too much damage from salt to repair, you may want to reseed. We recommend seeding with Black Beauty Ultra which is more salt tolerant than other grass seeds mixtures.


MAG-I-CAL Bag The solution to your lawn soil salt build-up problem is Mag-I-Cal!  Mag-I-Cal is 100% soluble calcium with humates. Calcium plays many roles in the soil, but it is the relationship with other nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and sodium that is most significant. Most people know that calcium is applied to the soil to raise soil pH. (potential hydrogen). To learn more get your free copy of our  

New American Lawn Plan Booklet and turn to Page 19.  It is available on our website or free at your local hardware store or garden center.  

It is important to understand that an imbalance of calcium

will lead to tight, hard-pan soils which will restrict the flow of air and water through the soil profile. This will not only affect the plant roots, but perhaps even more importantly, will slow down the growth of beneficial microorganisms. The soil is an extremely dynamic environment consisting of numerous chemical, biological and physical reactions. It is on all three levels that we must manage the soil. We can change the physical structure of soil by organically managing the chemistry, thus providing a stronger biological environment. It is this biology that is so important to the success of managing any crop, turf being no exception. For the first time in recent memory, soil biology has risen to the forefront of discussion.

If we are going to make any improvement in the health of grass, proper soil management is imperative, and this all starts by managing calcium levels in the soil. Calcium  plays more roles in the overall health of both the grass plant and the soil the turf grows in than any other plant nutrient. When your lawn's pH and soil is balanced better air and water movement occur and in turn a positive environment for beneficial bacteria creates checks and balances for pathogens.   The fast acting calcium in Mag-I-Cal  helps in root and leaf development and makes phosphorous and micro-nutrients more available. If well balanced, the proper levels of calcium are going to help reduce the need for excessive fertilizer by making the fertilizer you spread more efficient.  If we get the calcium level right in the soil, most of our work is done!  Mag-I-Cal will rapidly balance the soil's calcium and  pH levels.


How Do I Determine My Soil's pH?


 Jonathan Green offers an easy,  Do-it-Yourself Kit to determine what your soil will need to achieve the ideal growing conditions for a healthy, beautiful lawn.  The kit contains a test tube, and a capsule of powder to sprinkle on top of the soil and a pH Range Chart.

Go to four locations on your lawn.  We suggest sunny areas, shady areas, bare spots and places full of weeds. Jonathan Green Soil pH Test Kit

Using a garden trowel or spoon dig down into the soil one inch and take a small sample.  Follow the same procedure at the other testing sites.  When you have four samples mix the soil together in a dish, combining them to get a representative or average sample.  From the dish take just enough soil to fill the test tube half full.  Sprinkle the powder from the capsule on top of the soil and fill the rest of the test tube with water.  Put the cap back on the test tube and shake the test tube vigorously for one minute.  Place the test tube on a flat surface on its side and wait five minutes.  When the water color changes study the desirable pH range chart included with the kit and you will get a good idea of your lawn soils pH reading.


How Much Mag-I-Cal Should be Applied?


If pH is 6.0 - 6.4, apply Mag-I-Cal once a year. Why if it is in optimal range? All of the calcium present isn't readily available to the soil. We must supply the plant with this important nutrient.

If pH is 5.6 - 5.9, apply Mag-I-Cal in the spring and fall.

If pH is 5.1 - 5.5, apply Mag-I-Cal every other month until pH is above 5.5, then follow above suggestions. 

If pH is 5.0 or below, apply Mag-I-Cal at 1.5 times the regular rate for three consecutive months.  Two weeks after the third application test your soil pH, then adjust your Mag-I-Cal application schedule accordingly.


Show Us Your Lawn and Win!


Enter our 3rd annual "Show Us Your Lawn" contest today!

From March through October, upload a photo of your beautiful Jonathan Green lawn. Each month a winner will be chosen and will receive a $50 gift coupon to use at their local retail store where the Jonathan Green products were purchased. In November, one grand prize winner, chosen from the monthly winners, will receive a $500 gift coupon and a New American Lawn product kit!  Visit our New American Lawn website and click on "Show Us Your Lawn"!

Grand Prize Winning Lawn  2014
Winner Rich C. at Baker's Hardware


For more information, how-to videos and informative articles visit  jonathangreen.c om
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Jonathan Green

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