In order for your lawn to thrive throughout the year, you need to understand what’s going on underneath the grass. And in order to do this, you need to carry out a soil test.
They show you how acidic your soil is, which nutrients are most prominent, which nutrients are least prominent and if you should be adding any soil amendments.
All this information will not only help you ensure proper grass growth and health, but it will also prevent you from accidentally damaging it, such as applying the wrong fertiliser.
In this post I’ll be explaining everything you really need to know about testing your soil so make sure to keep reading!
How to Carry Out a Soil Test
Just follow the process below.
- Use a clean, rust-free trowel or soil probe to take samples from up to 10 areas of your lawn.
- Dig several holes in the lawn 6- to 8-inches deep.
- Take a slice of soil from one side of each hole, save 1- to 2-inches from the middle of the slice, and discard the sides, top, and bottom.
- Mix the samples in a clear container, allow them to dry at room temperature and send it all to the lab (you might need to pay a small fee but it’ll be worth it).
One thing to remember when testing your soil is that if you have different soil types or terrains throughout your garden, then make sure you take a separate test from each.
As I said above, you don’t want to be applying the wrong fertiliser/amendments to your lawn and by carrying other tests, you’ll prevent this.
When To Carry Out a Test
You can test at any time you want to be honest. Just remember that you could get misleading results if done within 3 months of a lime, fertiliser or organic matter application.
They can cause changes in soil moisture level, plant growth and microorganism activity which in turn affect soil nutrient level.
In saying that however, most soil tests are carried out in spring (specifically march) and it’s probably a good idea to ask your local agronomist of the best time to test in your area. This just means you can continue with absolute certainty.
Interpretation of Results
Probably the biggest thing you’ll learn about from your test is your soil’s pH level so it’s important that you understand exactly what each level means.
pH 3.0-5.0 (very acidic)
Plants and grass find it very difficult to survive in conditions like these. Because of the high acidity, most plant nutrients (such as calcium, potassium and magnesium) become more soluble which means it’s easier for them to be washed away.
As well as that, bacteria can’t rot organic matter when the soil’s pH level is lower than 4.7 so there will be fewer nutrients made available for the grass roots.
This, of course, makes it much harder for them to get the feeding they need.
So to counteract this and to boost your soil’s pH level, you’ll need to add lime to your lawn.
pH 5.1-6.0 (acidic soil)
No action really need to be taken here to help the soil. You can sometimes see unwanted plants grow, in which case you would add lime to remove, but other than that you should be fine.
pH 6.1-7.0 (moderately acidic)
A pH of 6.5 is generally the best ph for the majority of gardens as it allows for a wide range of different plants/grass to grow – other than lime-hating grasses. This is because the availability of major nutrients is at its highest at this pH and earthworm activity is at an optimum level.
So you should need to add anything if your lawn has this level of pH.
Some nutrients, like phosphorus, iron and manganese, become less available in soils with this level of pH, which could lead to lime-induced chlorosis.
In order to reduce the pH level you can add things such as sulphur, iron sulphate and other acidifying agents.
To ensure your soil and lawn health over the long term, you will want to carry out a test at least every 3 years. This allows you to keep on top of your soil’s pH and nutrient levels.
Just make sure you follow the tips in this post and you’ll be well on your way to a great looking lawn 😉
Thanks for reading. Of course, gaining information on your soil’s pH level is a very important aspect of good lawn care, but it’s probably not the most important.
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