Do I need a soil sample for my lawn?
Soil Sampling your lawn can be a very useful tool when trying to formulate your plan for the most beautiful lawn. When starting with a tired lawn, having the information that a soil sample can give will help you know where to start. North Texas Lawn are typically clay and have a tendency to be slightly alkaline. However, if you lawn is acidic then you will need to start by attacking the pH of the soil to make it more conducive to growing a healthy lawn. A soil test will also help to tell you the status of both Macro and Micro-nutrients in the soil.
How to test your soil
There are many ways to test your soil. The most accurate will be sending your sample to a lab, but there are other ways that you can do this at home. Below are some of the tools you may need.
Taking your soil Sample:
This method of obtaining your sample involves using a rust free trowel to dig a hole that is approx. six inches deep over several areas of your lawn.
- Core sampling tool
This tool is used to pull samples from the ground at a precise and consistent depth.
- Auger bucket
These normally come with an auger that you connect to your standard drill and auger the soil into the provided bucket
Obtain core samples from several areas in your yard. I would suggest at least one sample per 500 sqft. Mix these samples together and spread them out on a sheet of paper and let dry out for at least 24 hours.
Once you have collected your dried sample, mix the soil together and put into the container that is provided by whichever soil testing company you choose.
Testing your soil sample
- County Extension Agency
The most traditional way of soil testing is through your local Agriculture Extension Agency. In Texas visit: http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/ for shipping/billing instructions. They have various options that you can choose from. I recommend the suite 2 which adds the micronutrients to the basic test, costing only $19
- Soil Savvy Kit
This soil sample kit is sold on amazon and is very reputable. They will send you a comprehensive soil test that is easy to understand. They also like will give you fertilizer recommendations based on your results.
Soil Sample Self Kit
This also gives near instant results even though it is slightly more complicated. This kit is moderately expensive but reusable.
- Rapid Soil Sample Test Kits
These tests are cheap and relatively easy to use, but are limited to only pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash. They also give near instant results.
These are conclusive tests that will tell you the available amounts of Macro and sometimes micronutrients in the soil. I recommend one of these per year. It can help you to plan your yearly fertilizer plans. Soil testing will help you to figure out the weak spots in your lawn or garden and then your yearly plans will be more clear.
The first part of your soil test that you should address is the pH of your soil. Most plants grow much better in pH neutral soil. So if you find your pH to be acidic you would probably want to spread Lime in your yard. If your soil is alkaline then you would want to spread peat moss on your soil.
Once you have treated the pH, then you can move on to the macro and micro-nutrients. There are many products and formulations to address this, and I’m sure we will speak to this in future installments of this blog.
If you have any questions feel free to comment or send us questions and always remember that we are always here for all of your Lawn Care needs.