Is soil analysis really necessary for growing a healthy lawn or garden?
Soil testing is simply a tool that will assist you in knowing what nutrients and organic matter your soil contains.
Based on those results we can advise you on what soil attribute is required to enable optimal growth of the chosen plant type. You can certainly grow a nice lawn or garden without a soil analysis, but you’ll be guessing on what to apply for the best production. When you guess the chances are high that you’ll either put too much down and potentially harm the environment or too little and see marginal results.
If you follow our recommendations you should see a noticeable improvement in your lawn or garden. As you implement the program we suggest over time you will improve your soil’s health to the point that maintaining a green and lush lawn can be accomplished using far less nutrient additives.
What exactly is pH?
A numerical measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, usually measured on a scale of 0 to 14. Neutral solutions (such as pure water) have a pH of 7, acidic solutions have a pH lower than 7, and alkaline solutions have a pH higher than 7. The pH of lemon juice is 2.4; that of household ammonia is 11.5. The letters pH stands for potential of hydrogen, since pH is effectively a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions (that is, protons) in a substance.
Why is it so important to have my pH in a specific range to grow turf?
The pH of the soil impacts the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. Turf Type Tall Fescue grows best in a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. However, we recommend narrowing that down to between 6.2 and 6.8. But other grass types require a different pH to thrive. Centipede grass, for example, does best in more acidic soil in a range between 5.0 and 5.5. Bermuda grass on the other hand is best grown in a wider pH range between 6.5 and 8.0. Perennial Rye grass does best in a pH range between 5.75 and 7.5.
What's the best method to correct my soil's pH?
If your soil is below 6.0 (for turf type tall fescue) lime must be added to correct the pH. There are two primary types of lime, calcitic or dolomitic. Dolomitic lime contains naturally occurring magnesium that may well not be required for your soil. Also dolomitic lime will take several weeks to months to affect the pH. Calcitic lime does not contain magnesium and it also begins to raise the pH within a matter of weeks. Either way be sure to apply the granular variety.
If your soil tests alkaline, i.e., above 7.0 for turf type tall fescue it may be necessary to apply sulfur. Again, correction of a high pH will take months, if not years and many applications. NOTE: Sulfur is best absorbed into the ground when temperatures are high and in those seasons when we receive plenty of rainfall.
If my soil's pH tests as acidic - well below 6.0 - how long will it take to correct this condition?
Bringing your soil’s pH back into the optimal range may take multiple years and lime applications depending on your soil’s condition at the outset. If your soil’s pH is highly acidic correction may take up to 5 years. The key is to not apply all that’s recommended in one application. Doing so is wasteful and may harm your turf. Spread out your applications over several months and be prepared for additional applications throughout the year and perhaps for some time to come. Never apply OVER 50 lbs. of lime per 1,000 sq. ft. at any given time or season.
Why don't you offer to show the amount of nitrogen in my soil?
The problem with testing soil for nitrogen is that the chemical is so changeable. It evaporates readily in one form and it easily forms many different compounds with other chemicals. A simple chemical analysis simply cannot identify and measure all of the nitrogenous compounds in the soil.
Most off-the-shelf testing kits only measure the amount of nitrogen available in the soil at that exact time. Just be aware that the nitrogen levels fluctuate throughout the year. Also, once the soil warms in late spring and early summer microbial activity increases causing release of nitrogen making for different readings.
What are the most critical variables for me to pay attention to in my soil analysis results?
Well the most accurate answer is all of them. But from our vantage point there are a few to really pay attention to. Those variables include:
- Percentage of Organic Matter
- Nitrogen (N)
- Amounts of phosphorous (P) and potash (K) in the soil
When these nutrients exist in proper amounts and ratios you have only to add about 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per year per 1,000 square feet of turf. Of those three to four pounds 1/3 should be applied in the early spring and the remainder in two applications, one in mid-fall and the last in early winter.
Is trace mineral analysis necessary for growing a healthy lawn and productive garden?
Yes. It is not uncommon for most soils to be deficient in one or more of the essential micronutrients, such as boron, iron, or zinc. Trace mineral deficiencies can restrict the availability to plants of certain major nutrients, even when a sufficient supply of those nutrients is present in the soil.
How long will it take to correct my soil and get it back into balance?
Correcting soil deficiencies is dependent on your starting point and how well you follow the recommendations given in your Think Soil Analysis Report. In some cases we’ve seen it take as many as 5 years to bring soils up to maximum fertility.
In most instances we see reasonably good balance occurring within 3 years. You should begin to see significant improvements the first year and continued improvement thereafter. The bottom-line is to not expect your soil issues to be corrected in a single year. You many well see improvement in the first growing season but set your expectations for a longer period.
When will I receive my analysis results?
Once your sample is received at the Stewardship Labs it will take us 24 hours to complete all testing and to post your analysis results on the thinkSOIL Balance webpage. You can searchttp://www.modusmg-test.com/thinksoilbalance/view-results/h for your results by entering the ORDER NUMBER or searching by your name and address.
When Should I aerate and overseed my lawn?
The undisputed best time of year to aerate and seed a lawn is in the fall.
I would really like to know how to get rid of invasive weeds safely.
Try the smothering method to rid your garden of invasive weeds. Smothering is a simple and very effective way to rid an area of difficult ground covers, but it can take several seasons to complete. For a helpful hand and fast fix, try groSMART’s Round-up Quick PRO weed and grass killer!
Do I need to do anything to my soil if I’m planting in a new place?
Before planting or relocating your plants to a new area, always ensure the area to which you will be planting is healthy and growth ready. In order to do so, try Our Soil- Test kits to get all of the contents and information your soil has to offer and expert advice on your personal results ensuring the best care for your soil and upcoming growing seasons.
What’s the difference between a seed and a seedling?
Seeds are seeds (encapsulated embryonic plants) while seedlings are seeds that have just sprouted.
How to decrease soil pH in garden?
Two materials commonly used for lowering the soil pH are aluminum sulfate and sulfur.
How acidic does my soil need to be for my tomato plants?
Healthy tomatoes prefer soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH of around 6 to 6.8
What should be done this fall to prepare a bed of annuals for next spring?
Unlike perennials, annuals do not come back from season to season. Pull them up, roots included, and add them to your compost pile. Remove weeds and debris. These are common places for pests over winter.
How to achieve good soil fertility?
Soil fertility can be improved by incorporating cover crops that add organic matter to the soil.
Benefits of composting?
A few benefits to list for composting are soil enrichment, helps retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers! Composting encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material that helps with your gardens health!
Should I add compost to my fall garden?
Fall is an excellent time to add compost to your garden, since it gives the soil time to settle.
What’s the difference between annuals and perennials?
Annuals complete their cycle in one growing season, whereas perennials live on for three years or longer.
What is aeration?
Practically speaking, aeration is the process of mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn to improve soil aeration.
What’s the best time of year for landscape installation?
The best time to begin landscaping and planting trees, shrubs, and perennials is in the months of April and May.
Should I mulch around my shrubs?
Mulch improves shrubs’ health and can minimize some garden maintenance. Mulch reduces weed growth by blocking sunlight and suppressing germination. So they are among the better materials for shrub mulching.
What is the best time of year for landscaping with biennial trees?
The best time to plant any plant is during the dormant season – in North America, this is usually late fall through early spring.
What is screened topsoil?
Screening topsoil is the process by which larger clods of soil, stones, roots and other matter are removed from the soil and is done according to size.
How much water does my landscaping need over the year?
The amount you water your garden or landscape should be based on your garden’s soil conditions and your plant’s needs. On average, we recommend watering your lawn about an inch a week – a bit more during dry spells and a bit less during the cooler spring and fall.
What fertilizers should I be using for my Landscaping needs?
Most gardeners should use a complete fertilizer with twice as much phosphorus as nitrogen or potassium. An example would be 10-20-10. These fertilizers usually are easy to find. Some soils contain enough potassium for good plant growth and don’t need more.
What exactly is an Evergreen?
An evergreen is a tree or plant that has green leaves or needles throughout the year.