Start spring right with your soil in top shape
Do not be distracted by the snow on the ground. Fact is – spring is upon us! It is time to consider how your garden or lawn should look when there is more sunshine and rain to enjoy. However, before that takes place, your lawn requires proper awakening. So, the first step is to ensure that your soil is ready for spring. This could mean soil testing, the need for fertilizing, and many other spring pick-me-up chores. As you must now know, in the early days of spring, soil testing comes right on top of the list.
Soil testing may pertain to a broad array of soil analysis done for several reasons.
Soil analysis is a critical process in evaluating your soil’s fertilization and quality to support plant life. While this can be conducted any time of the year, the ideal time to test soil is in spring. Soil testing is done best before adding any compost or any other modifications to your soil. These tests can determine the concentration of phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, magnesium, lime, and other organic matter in the soil.
Test results can indicate what you need to add to your soil to achieve the ideal pH level and nutrient composition.
You can perform soil testing through commercial labs and Do-It-Yourself kits. Commercial labs offer a wide range of tests focusing on different classes of compounds and minerals. Because of proximity, soil testing from local labs has the advantage of familiarity with the chemistry in the identified area for sampling. With this, the technicians are able to suggest the most suitable test/s for the purpose or goal.
Lab tests are able to test for plant nutrients in three categories: One is major nutrients such as NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium). Another is secondary nutrients such as sulfur, magnesium, calcium. Lastly, minor nutrients like copper, boron, iron, manganese, chlorine, zinc, molybdenum.
Do-It-Yourself kits commonly test only for the three major nutrients and for the soil’s pH level or acidity.
You can easily find these kits in gardening stores, some hardware stores, private and university labs, and farming cooperatives. While both types are useful, lab tests have relatively higher accuracy. Depending on the type of test and amount of information you need, DIY kits cost anywhere from $6 to $15. In comparison, lab soil testing services can cost much more.
So, keep in mind that even the most expensive Do-It-Yourself kit cannot take the place of a professional testing.
A good way to combine both is to start with a professional soil testing and analysis.
Afterwards, once you have the necessary professional test results, monitor the progress of your soil with a kit. Doing this can help you save money.
How to do your own Soil Testing
As per the manufacturer’s instructions, add the right amount of solution from the kit to the recommended amount of soil. Then, allow the particles to settle by shaking the mixture well. Using the chart that goes with the kit, match the color of the resulting mixture.
Why do we need to soil testing?
Every plant has its own nutrient and soil acidity requirements that are different from others for optimal growth. Soil testing evaluates nutrients, macronutrients, and soil pH available for your plants that are in your lawn or garden. Whether it has too much or too little, you will find the appropriate information on the data to help you address any possible issue.
How often should I have soil testing?
You can perform soil testing any time of the year so long as the ground is not frozen. It is a good idea to test soil in spring before planting, but fall is best especially if soil acidity is a potential problem.
Retesting the soil after one year from the time you made amendments is a good idea.
This will help you assess if the results of soil testing addressed the issue.
Who benefits from soil testing?
Gardeners, Farmers, Planters, homeowners, greenhouse growers, landscapers, etc. all benefit from soil testing. Most importantly, your grass will benefit from early testing in spring. Good soil condition leads to great grass growth throughout the seasons.
What’s included in the Soil Test kit from commercial or university labs?
Generally, a kit contains a soil mailing lab together with a submission form that you need to fill out.
How much does professional soil testing cost?
It varies depending on the test you need or are asking for. A soil nitrate test ranges from $10 to $20. Tests for toxins for farming can be anywhere from $30 – $50 per test.
How do I collect soil samples for professional testing and analysis?
Using a rust-free and clean trowel, dig several holes in your lawn 6 to 8 inches deep. Take samples from several areas of your lawn. From one side of each hole, slice a part of the soil, saving 1 to 2 inches from the center of the slice. Leave out the sides, bottom, and top parts. Combine the samples in a clean and transparent container. Let them dry at room temperature. Do not forget to include the appropriate fee for the lab. Then you are set to send your soil sample to the lab.
The test results will give you information about your soil from which you can decide on what to do next if needed.
How soon can the soil test results be available?
A routine soil test can generally be ready within 5 business days. However, remember to allot 3 to 6 for mail to and from the lab.
What All American Turf Beauty Says About Soil Testing
Lawn experts from All American Turf Beauty encourage early preparation for the coming of spring. This means an overall evaluation of your lawn’s condition. This includes determining what damage winter is leaving your lawn and the current conditions that will determine the actions you’ll need to take. Hence, soil testing is on the list of to-do’s if you want to start spring right. There is nothing only the best lawn care experts in Iowa can give you. Get in touch with All American Turf Beauty to keep you on the right track as it is time to revive your lawn. Call us today and talk to our lawn care experts at 1-800-365-8873 or you may visit us at 311 Desoto Rd, Van Meter, IA.