I advocate to my customers to have me send out a soil sample when their lawn or garden is not thriving. I am a true believer that it all starts with the soil health because when our soil is enriched, our turf and gardens can thrive. Soil samples are important because it gives us information on what levels of nutrients are in the soil and how to manage it properly, tells us the pH of the soil and if we need to correct it, and lower frustration for the homeowner and professionals because of the increase effectiveness of fertilizers which will give us healthy and strong plants.
I have a customer that I sent out a soil sample for his Eastern Redbuds (Cercis candensis) because they were not thriving. It turned out that the soil had not enough Potash that the Eastern Redbuds needed. I was able to give my customer the correct product that he needed for each plant. Potash is one of the seventeen essential nutrients for a plant to survive. These nutrients are important for plants because the nutrients aids in both vegetative and reproductive functions. However, the levels of these nutrients vary from plant to plant. Soil samples can tell us exactly where our levels are and what levels our plants needs.
However, our plants cannot utilize the nutrients properly if the pH is correct. The pH scale tests if a solution is acidic or basic on a 0.0 (acidic) to 14.0 (alkaline) scale, and 7.0 being neutral. Black coffee has a pH of 5.0, pure water has a pH of 7.0, and ammonia solution has a pH of 9.5 are just some examples. In the world of plants: turf grass likes a pH of 6.2 to 6.8, moss likes acidic soil 5.0 to 5.5, most vegetables likes slightly acidic soil, and asparagus likes a pH between 6.0 to 8.0. When soil pH is correct, plants are able to absorb all the essential plant nutrients. When the pH is too low, less nutrients become available and the beneficial bacteria in the soil cannot thrive. When our pH is too high, plants cannot utilize Phosphorus and other nutrients in the soil. Having our soil tested to know our pH allows us to fix the pH with an application of calcitic lime to raise pH or sulfur to lower the pH. It also gives us an over all plan to get the pH to the right levels in the event the pH is off the chart - such as being guided in a two year plan to get the pH where you need it.
Throughout all the years working at my garden center, I have seen a lot of customers go the route of breaking away from their lawn care program and doing it themselves. Sometimes, this causes frustration in lawn management practices. Picture this, you want to reseed your whole yard and you need 200 pounds of grass seed. After spending over $500.00 on grass seed, because grass seed is not cheap (it costs $137.00 for a fifty pound bag of grass seed at my garden center); you go home to apply the grass seed, put down a seed cover and water it in. You wait for about a month and you are not getting any grass up. You keep watering it and maintaining it but nothing is happening because your soil pH is low and your lawn does not have the correct nutrient levels. You just wasted over $500.00 on seed and seed cover. You wasted time and energy for a lawn that has not grown and took off. All you have is frustration. As awful as it sounds, I see this scenario happen all the time. The conversation always goes into the direction “Have you ever tested your soil?”
Once the soil is tested, I get a profile of the soil and the ability to give along term plan to help your lawn or your garden to get exactly what they need. What’s coming up next are my tips in taking the best soil sample. In the mean time, if you have a soil sample you cannot figure out how to read or what you need to do next, send in your soil sample to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to my contact page to send me questions on your soil! Thank you so much for reading my post! We are starting underground and making our way up to make all life in your back yard sustainable.