Why Is Soil Testing So Important and What Does It Tell Us?

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“Why Is Soil Testing So Important and What Does It Tell Us?’

We get this question a lot, why should I get a soil test performed on my lawn? The answer is simple. A vast variety of knowledge is gained to insure you have the correct chemistry present but most importantly, correct pH in the soil to achieve maximum results from the soils complex echo system. Let’s take a step back into history and discuss for a minute where the term pH originated.
The word pH is a scientific term “pH” which is an abbreviation for “protentional of hydrogen,” which is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of any solution. The term started to be used by a German Chemist around 1909. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. The further the test results deviates from the left and right of seven will determine how acidic or basic your soil chemistry is.
The pH plays an important part of the solubility of nutrients or minerals in the soil. Did you know that 14 out of the 17 plant needed nutrients are more readily available in the soil at the correct pH? In the world of Turf Grass Science, we prefer the we have a slightly acidic soil pH. Usually in the range of 6.6-6.8 for our area and grass types utilized. When your soil pH is in this range, you will have unlocked the potential for your soil chemistry to work at the highest level. Also, it will allow our balanced fertilizer nutrient inputs to be utilized to their highest ability giving you the most value out of your seasonal scheduled feedings.
It is important to pull a soil test every couple of years. If you have not performed one yet, we highly recommend that you start with a soil test. The soil pH will change over time from rain events that leach away basic ions such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Also, root respiration will have an effect over time too on the soil pH on your property.

The process of taking a soil sample is simple but most be done correctly to receive the correct results. The process will start with your lawn care company pulling various plugs throughout your property. It is important to take samples throughout the entire property at roughly a six-inch soil depth to get a general reading of what is occurring in your soil. Your soil can have slightly different chemistries from one location then other. Any reputable lawn care company will follow this practice and by doing so, will a lot the correct results from the soil testing lab. If you notice this practice is not being followed, it can be a warning sign that your current lawn care provider does not have the correct understanding on how to pull soil samples and potentially interrupt the results correctly to give you the correct analysis.
To summarize our discussion, for the small cost of soil test, its provides a wealth of knowledge to get your outdoor living space optimized to its highest potential for you and your family to enjoy. Since you are already making a yearly investment in your lawn care, why not have it firing on all cylinders available in your complex soil ecosystem!

Luke Zimmerman
General Manager / Senior Agronomist