Soil Testing: What Is It and Why Should You Do It?


“What’s all the hubbub about?,” you think, “Can’t you just get started making my grass grow?” Actually, if a service provider is bent on performing a soil test, it’s a good sign that their services will drastically improve your landscape.

This simple test can make or break the success of your lawn care. In this post we’re shedding light on what soil testing is and why it matters.

What’s Soil Testing?

Don’t guess, soil test.  When it comes down to it, lawn care is a science. And soil testing is a part of any successful formula that creates vibrant grass and landscape plants. To save you from unnecessary details, here’s what it is in jargon-free, layman’s terms: a soil test is an analysis of a sample of dirt from your yard to determine soil health. It’s done by extracting a small plug of soil from areas where plants and grass grow. Then, that sample is tested for pH and nutrient levels, revealing what’s readily available for plant growth and what’s lacking.

How Do I Test My Lawn Soil?

Usually, a full service lawn care company will perform soil testing as the foundation of your program. This is especially true of lawn companies who offer organic lawn care services, because they focus on care that aids the biology of the plant (as opposed to synthetic chemicals), and depend on a nutrient-rich, fertile soil. However, do-it-yourself soil tests are available at places like Penn State and online at Amazon. These tests can be element-specific or comprehensive, grading acidity, nitrogen, phosphorous, and more. We recommend comprehensive tests to get a full understanding of soil health.

Why Soil Testing Matters

We could write a book about this. In fact, we’re sure some already exist. But it shouldn’t take a 500 page manual to convince you that lawn soil testing is crucial. Here are the basic reasons why you should test your soil every few years:

  • Determines the acidity (pH) of soil, giving you the information to correct pH to levels ideal for optimal nutrient availability.
  • Determine if applications of nutrients are necessary (or if you’re overdoing it and causing harm and imbalance to the soil environment)
  • Increase the effectiveness of fertilizers and availability of nutrients to grass.
  • Ability to improve grass growth, as well as resistance against pests and diseases long-term.
  • Rather than increasing fertilizer applications when you see it isn’t working, you save time, money, and frustration by pulling the soil into an acceptable range for growth and dealing with the problem at the source.

Think of a soil test as a guide. It’s the basis for mapping out a plan to create healthy, strong grass growth! Most kits cost less than $20, but it takes about six months to alter the soil environment. If you haven’t tested in a few years, test and make necessary alterations before the ground freezes so that you’ll be ready for beautiful grass come spring!

Talk to a Specialist to get more info!