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  • Writer's pictureMatt Weber

Soil Testing for Effective Lawn Fertilization

(guest post by Valerie Smith)


If you want a great lawn, you’ve got to have great soil. Working from the ground up by soil testing is the best way to make sure your yard is growing in the best environment as this directly influences how well the grass itself grows. Don’t be one of the many homeowners that skip the step of soil testing. This oversight leads to spending on unnecessary fertilizers, contributing to ineffective nutrient application and potential environmental harm due to runoff into water systems.


Testing your soil is as easy as it is important for a healthy lawn as it tells you exactly what your soil needs. This way, you can buy the right additives for your lawn, and nothing more, making it healthier and saving you money.


The Importance of Soil Testing

The makeup of the soil can differ from one part of the yard to another, so it’s important to test more than one area of the lawn. Testing the soil is a key step if you want to know what nutrients it’s made of, how acidic or alkaline it is and other important details that affect the health of your lawn.


Cost-Effective and Eco-Friendly Applications

Soil testing enables a cost-effective and eco-friendly approach to lawn fertilization by precisely identifying what nutrients the soil lacks, thereby eliminating guesswork. This allows homeowners to invest in targeted nutrients, ensuring the lawn receives exactly what it needs for optimal health without overspending on unnecessary fertilizers. Such precise application not only saves money by avoiding the waste associated with over-fertilization but also prevents nutrient runoff and environmental pollution. This contributes to a more sustainable lawn care routine, ensuring the lawn remains an eco-friendly aspect of the home landscape while receiving the proper nourishment to thrive. 


Interpreting Soil Test Results

Interpreting a soil test might seem a little daunting at first, but it’s quite straightforward once you understand the basics. The results from a soil test provide valuable information about the nutrients present in your soil, its pH level and other important characteristics that affect plant growth.


Sod Solutions offers a soil test kit that simplifies the results. Simply submit a soil sample and, without homeowners needing to decipher the ratings themselves, it recommends which products are needed based on the test results.


Soil pH

The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Numbers below 7 indicate acidic soil, while numbers above 7 mean the soil is alkaline. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH (around 6.0 to 7.0). If your soil’s pH is outside your plants' preferred range, you’ll need to make adjustments.


Nutrient Levels

The three main nutrients listed are macronutrients that plants usually need in larger amounts—nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These are the primary nutrients that plants need to grow, and they’re often listed as N-P-K on fertilizer packages.

In addition to these essential macronutrients, the soil test comprehensively checks for pH, Buffer pH, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Boron, Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) and organic matter.


Recommendations

Lastly, look at the recommendations section of the soil test report. This part is particularly helpful because it translates the test results into actionable advice. It might suggest specific types of fertilizer, how much to apply and when to apply them. It could also offer advice on adjusting the pH level or improving soil structure and organic matter content.


Unlike other soil tests that may only provide general recommendations, The Sod Solutions soil test kit offers tailored advice based on the specific needs of your lawn and garden. The recommendations section of the report translates the test results into actionable steps, suggesting the exact products, quantities, and application timing to optimize your soil for successful plant growth.


Developing a Tailored Fertilizer Plan

Once you’ve received the results of your soil test, using it is a lot like using a map to arrive at a healthy lawn. With its customized recommendations, the soil test demonstrates what your soil currently lacks or has in excess. This allows you to choose or mix a fertilizer that meets the exact requirements of your yard. Instead of guessing or using a one-size-fits-all approach, you can target specific deficiencies to make sure your yard gets the right balance of nutrients. This not only promotes healthier, more vibrant growth but also prevents was and environmental damage from over fertilization.


With this approach, your garden care becomes more efficient, effective and eco-friendly, leading to a healthier, thriving lawn.


Want to learn more about achieving a great lawn? Check out more Sod University tips here and subscribe to the weekly newsletter.




Author bio: Valerie Smith is Sod Solutions content strategist. To view this article on Sod Solutions website, click here. Sod Solutions is celebrating 30 years of successfully developing and releasing turfgrasses with over 20 market-leading varieties like Palmetto® St. Augustine, Celebration® Bermudagrass, EMPIRE® Zoysia and more.

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