Salisbury: Daily News columnist Tim Lamprey. Photo by Bryan Eaton/Newburyport Daily News.

All gardeners know how important it is to fertilize. Vegetable plants, perennials, annuals and rose bushes will grow best when they have enough fertilizer.

But, sometimes, even if you keep up with this task, your plants can’t use the fertilizer you are applying to the soil, the reason being that the fertilizer gets bound up in the soil. If your soil is too acidic, the fertilizer becomes water insoluble. This means that the fertilizer doesn’t dissolve into a form that the roots of the plant can take up and ultimately become usable by the plant. To prevent this from happening, you need to offset the acidity in the soil. You need to apply lime.

There are many times when a customer comes into the store to inquire about a lawn problem. The grass does not appear to be growing, but the weeds are growing very well. If I ask if they have recently applied lime to the lawn, the answer is usually no. You see, grass doesn’t grow very well under acidic conditions. Weeds, on the other hand, flourish. Applying the proper amount of lime to your lawn makes it easier for the grass to grow. If the grass is growing fast enough, it can force out many weeds.

As part of your fall cleanup of the lawn and gardens, don’t forget to apply lime if you didn’t do so last spring. Lime takes time to do its job. By applying the lime now, you give it time to work before next spring.

There are certain shrubs that tolerate an acid soil. Most of these are evergreens. And, there are some shrubs that want a soil that is not acidic. Lilacs and rose bushes are two of the more common shrubs that will benefit from an application of lime this fall.

You can check your soil for the level of acidity by purchasing a pH test kit. This simple kit, which costs about $2, allows you to find out how much lime you will need to add to your yard. This is a worthwhile investment for a better lawn and better gardens.

Before the leaves fall from the trees or the weather becomes too cold to spend much time outside, take the time to perform this simple autumn chore. You will be off to a good start next spring.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.Harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.

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