Soil testing can help to determine whether your lawn has the correct nutrients for it to grow. If your lawn is looking a little bit dull, it might be because of the soil. Having the right soil is crucial for your lawn to perform at its best so it’s important to know how to analyse it.
Here are some tips on how to test your soil and make improvements for the best results.
When is the right time to test?
The best time to soil test your lawn or garden is before you start planting. You should also conduct a test if your lawn is performing poorly and foliage is showing signs of yellowing. If you’ve recently added lime, fertaliser or organic matter to your soil, you’ll need to wait at least three months before obtaining an accurate reading
Test for phosphorus, potassium and pH
Maintaining the correct pH level is important for your lawn to be nutrient efficient so it can grow. Ideally garden soil pH levels should fall between 5.5 and 7.0. A pH level below 6.0 is acidic and will limit the availability of nutrients such as calcium and magnesium. If soils are too acidic, lime can be applied to adjust the solution. A pH level above 7.0 is alkaline which will limit the availability of micronutrients such as iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc. If alkaline levels are too high, sulphur can be applied. Maintaining small levels of phosphorus is also necessary to help build healthy root systems and support flowering. Potassium is essential to developing disease resistance within plants and can strengthen a lawn’s endurance and tolerance for stress.
Apply organic matter
To improve the ground’s ability to withhold water and nutrients, a higher percentage of soil organic matter is necessary. Organic matter is made up of decomposing plants and animals and when applied, a garden may be able to stand more heat and drought stress. You can add compost or mulch to the ground if your lawn needs more organic matter.
Take multiple samples from around your garden
It’s best to take multiple samples from your lawn or garden as pH levels can vary in different places. Take samples from the corners and sides, then mix them together to create a single sample for testing purposes. The main goal is to create a comprehensive view of nutrients within the entire area.
Do not include surface vegetation samples
To get a sample from your garden, dig a small hole about a foot deep. Once the hole has been dug a spade can be used to peel a slice off the edge, collecting only the top 6-10 inches of the soil profile.
To evaluate how gardening and lawn practices are impacting the health of your soil, a baseline soil test should be conducted, followed by routine tests every five years.