Why You Need a Soil Test

soil test

At home soil test to determine pH levels. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kpaulus/7451969320/

Most homeowners don’t give much thought to the content or quality of their soil.  However, this often overlooked aspect of your yard plays a crucial role in the success of your grass, shrubs and flowers. If you have been struggling with growing plants or developing a successful lawn, it is a good idea to do a soil test. You can request a soil test from your local government, which usually costs a small fee.  You can also purchase a soil test kit from a hardware store. These tests check various chemical and elemental levels to determine the quality of soil you have in your yard.

A standard soil test will measure nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, pH level, and lime composition.More detailed tests, which can detect levels of other nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.  One of the most useful pieces of information from these tests is the pH level. This is measured on a scale from 0-14.  A level of 0 is extremely acidic and a level of 14 is extremely alkaline.  Either extreme makes growing plants and grass difficult. A healthy pH for your lawn is 6-7.5.  If your lawns pH falls outside of this range you should consider contacting a lawn care professional to help you remedy the pH levels in your lawn.

These soil tests can also give you and your lawn care provider a good indicator of what amount of fertilizer is necessary for your lawn.  Not only is this useful for the health of your lawn, but it is also a good way to ensure you aren’t using an excessive amount of fertilizer, which is detrimental to the environment due to runoff issues.

Most lawn care experts recommend you test your soil every 2-3 years, if the nutrient levels are generally stable. If you have growth problems in your yard or have had unhealthy results in the past, you may want to consider more frequent testing in order to properly manage your lawn.