Limestone Applied to Comm Ave Mall to Improve Soil

The white powder seen last week dusting the Commonwealth Avenue Mall wasn’t evidence of the season’s first snowfall, but rather a sign of the steps that the Friends of the Public Garden continually takes to improve soil health.

The Friends of the Public Garden then oversaw the application of limestone, which has been proven a safe and natural means of lowering acidity in soils to improve turf and soil health, to the soil on the Mall covering all the blocks from Arlington to Kenmore. This is part of a multi-year plan to improve soil health throughout the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the Boston Common and the Public Garden now being implemented by the Friends group in partnership with the Boston Parks Department.

Moreover, the Friends, according to a statement from the group, conducted soil sampling for the turf in each of the three parks that “reveals much about the elements, biology and their relationships to one another within the parks’ soil,” including that all three parks are “some factor below optimum pH (or how acidic/alkaline the soil environment is) values.”

The study found that the Commonwealth Avenue Mall is the most acidic of the three parks, with levels between 10- and 100-times too acidic for many turf varieties.

“Healthy soil is fundamental to healthy trees and lawns in our parks, and we are improving the soils to support the growing environment in our parks,” said Liz Vizza, president of the Friends group. “In response to our soils testing, this year we have added lime on lawns in the Mall that will increase the soils’ pH, making them less acidic and making them better able to absorb nutrients.”

Don’t expect to see immediate results, though, because, according to the Friends group, remedying the pH problem isn’t an “immediate fix, and requires a few seasons and perhaps a couple applications of limestone before the desired results are achieved.”

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