Best Home Soil Tests Available
According to recent research only a very small percentage of homeowners have carried out a soil / plant test. The main reason is that people feel they know what grows well in their garden, and therefore there is no need to spend time and money on testing their soil. However, there are many people that use guess-work, true sometimes is works, other times it doesnt, but we have all been in a situation where we are wondering why our neighbours plants and grass look so amazing and we simply do not have the same results. Sometimes we wish the fence was higher and we were not able to compare our results, that simply shows that we are not at the same level as them! Well not anymore
There are 2 simple ways of testing your soil. Firstly, you can purchase HOME TESTING DIY KITS or you can send your soil to a LABORATORY for more detailed analysis.
Home Testing Kits are cheap and readily available from places like Amazon. There are kits that vary slightly but in general they will measure the pH value of your soil, moisture, sunlight and temperature. Below I have included the most popular and highly rated kit from Amazon. The operation is very easy, you simply insert the provided sensor probe into your soil about 5 to 10 centimetres deep, wait for a few minutes and then will see the reading on the scale dial. This is a very easy and fast way of testing your soil and understanding what is going on underneath, and what nutrients are needed to achieve best lawn results.
How Do I Test My Lawn For Soil
How to Test Your Soil Thoroughly clean the tools youre using to collect the soil sample. In the planting area, dig five holes 6 to 8 inches deep. Take a 1/2-inch slice along the side of a hole and place it in the bucket. Collect samples from different areas thatll be growing similar plants. Mix the soil in the bucket.
Excessive Weeds Is A Sign Your Lawn Needs Lime
Every single person on the planet that has a lawn or enjoys gardening will experience weeds growing in their pride and joy that they have to remove.
Weeds growing in your lawn is completely normal but if weeds start to grow more than you would normally expect them to grow, especially if they start to take over certain areas of your lawn this could be a sign that you need to add lime to your lawn to raise the pH level.
Not all weeds will grow if your lawn has a low pH level, weeds that will thrive in a lawn with low pH include:
If you have these specific weeds growing in your lawn that is a good sign that the pH level is in fact too low.
You basically have two options in these circumstances, you can continue to rip out and battle the weeds or you can address the root of the problem which is the fact your lawn has soil with a low pH level.
If you add lime to your lawn in these circumstances it will raise the Ph level and make the soil ideal for grass to grow and it should make the soil less ideal for weeds to grow.
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Lawn Not Responding To Fertilizer Is A Sign It Needs Lime
So your lawn is looking unhealthy and you have added fertilizer to it and normally after this process you see a burst of healthy growth.
But this time you have added fertilizer and the lush green grass that normally grows after this procedure isnt happening or at least not as much as usual, this could be a good sign you need to add lime to your lawn.
Lawn fertilizer works best when the soil is at a neutral pH level, this is because most fertilizers are designed to release the nutrients that are already in the soil.
If the pH of your soil is at the wrong level for your fertilizer it wont be able to release the healthy nutrients that are basically locked and dormant in soil that has a pH level that is too low.
You may still see some benefit of the fertilizer but nowhere near the full extent you expect to see.
The problem with this sign that youre lawn needs lime is you need to be using a fertilizer that you regularly use as if you use a new type of fertilizer you wont know how much growth to expect from its application.
Finding The Best Test Kit For Your Lawn
There are a few test kits available in your home and garden stores, but its important to find a reliable test kit. Doing your research and ordering one may be your best bet. If youre looking for a local lab, then youll have to check your local institutions. See if any nearby universities offer tests and make sure they do testing for turfgrass.
If you want to keep the process local, contact your county extension office. They can guide you through the process.
Different institutions can be found online and may require tests to be mailed in. These offer great accessibility for people trying to find reliable labs.
As I mentioned, is what I use, and recommend. It is an online kit that gives you accurate readings with ease. Their interface provides test results in easy-to-read and understandable terms with fertilizer recommendations.
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Abcs Of Ph: Why How And When To Soil
. How do you grow and manage a healthy lawn? Well, a lot of the dirty work lies beneath.
Any healthy lawn begins with a well-balanced soil at its base. But before you start adding fertilizer, lime or other soil amendments, dig in and send a soil sample for a pH soil test.
Soil testing provides information about the soil that is necessary to manage the soil for good plant growth, says Jim Friedericks, Director of Outreach and Education at AgSource Laboratories. Its like the sensor code reader used by a car mechanic. The warning light may or may not be flashing, but if you plug in the sensor code reader you will find out what is going on with the car and can plan to fix it.
Why Should You Get Your Soil Tested
Only by way of performing soil test services by a qualified lawn expert can you genuinely determine if certain problems with the soil are preventing your lawn from reaching healthy and sustainable growth. Soil testing services for lawns can indicate what steps need to be taken in order to help lawns grow and thrive. The soil test service results develop future lawn care treatments, the right composition of fertilizer to use, and more. Even for lawns that seem to be growing well, lawn soil testing services can often predict when future problems may crop up. In this sense, a soil testing service for lawns can act as a prevention tool and not just as a way to diagnose current problems.
When Should You Test
It is a good idea to sample a lawn or turf area in the spring or early fall, says Friedericks. This will allow time to make the fertilizer and lime applications either in the spring as needed or to use the results from the fall sample to plan for the year ahead.
- Chill out. Follow the recommendations from the soil pH testing report, but be patient. It could take a year or more to see the results of a lime application, for instance.
- Split the application. Spread the recommended application into two or three applications over a couple of months. Water the lime into the soil.
- Season accordingly. Also split nitrogen applications over the spring and summer to avoid leaching loss and to keep the grass healthy. Apply phosphorus in the spring to help establish a strong well-rooted plant. Applying some of the potassium in the fall can also help the grass create a good store of energy in the roots to improve overwintering.
- Its a do-over. Keep on top of any problems after the initial test. Experts recommend that you take a soil sample and test soil pH every three to four years.
- Dont soak the samples. Dig your soil samples when it is neither too wet nor too dry, so you get a representative sample.
How Do I Collect A Soil Sample For Testing
To get the most accurate results:
- Collect your soil sample from the area of the soil where the plant roots will grow. About 6 to 8 inches deep is good for most garden plants.
- Remove any roots, grass or mulch from the sample for the most accurate test result.
- On a budget? Collect soil from different areas of the garden and mix together into one soil sample. This will give you an overall idea of your garden soils.
- Trying to problem solve or fine-tune? Collect soil from individual garden areas and test each area separately. Make sure to name your samples and make a map so you can match the results with your garden!
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Is Red Cabbage Better Than Litmus Paper Or A Digital Meter
Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Litmus paper is paper treated with a mix of dyes derived from lichens, which change colors depending on the pH.
While litmus paper has little color variety , red cabbage has a much wider range of colors, which can help better estimate the pH in the soil.
Also, the red cabbage soil test is believed to be even more accurate than digital meters as it has some clear advantages:
- Unlike a meter, the cabbage test allows the soil to soak in the juice and release elements that after interacting with the anthocyanin in the cabbage juice will lead to a more accurate result
- Cabbage doesnt require calibration after each soil sample even some of the most expensive digital meters need to be calibrated before each test, as a result, you can test as many soil samples as you wish at the same time
- It is cheaper .
How To Take A Soil Sample
The Rutgers Soils Laboratory uses state-of-the-art instruments and methods of soil analysis. The soil test, however, can only be as good as the soil sample collected, so it is very important to use proper sampling techniques. The objective of sampling is to collect a random sample that will best represent the average fertility of the sample area. Depending on the size of the area to be sampled, collect about 10 to 15 cores or slices of soil while walking in a random pattern over the area to be tested.
Break up any clumps of soil that were collected and thoroughly mix the soil. Place 2 cups or about ½ pint of soil in the plastic bag that comes with the kit. Fill out the soil sample questionnaire, making sure to note any special situations or problems in your lawn or garden. Keep your own record of the areas sampled and date mailed to the laboratory.
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When Should I Test My Lawn Soil
When Should You Test? It is a good idea to sample a lawn or turf area in the spring or early fall, says Friedericks. This will allow time to make the fertilizer and lime applications either in the spring as needed or to use the results from the fall sample to plan for the year ahead.Jul 22, 2019.
What Is Soil Ph
Soil pH is a way to measure the amount of acidity or alkalinity in your lawn, garden soil or anything else. It is measured in pH units on a scale from 0 to 14. Extreme acidity is at the low end of the scale, extreme alkalinity is at the top end. Soil at the midpoint, number 7, is neutral soil, neither acidic nor alkaline.
The p in pH stands for potential. The H is for hydrogen. While the science of pH gets complicated, everyone is familiar with things that are more or less acidic. Pure water is a neutral 7. Materials such as baking soda are alkaline. Alkalines have less hydrogen ion concentration than pure water, and much less than acidic items such as orange juice.
So pH can be defined as the level of hydrogen ion activity in a substance, including soil.
You may have naturally acidic or alkaline soil. There are many localized exceptions, but as a general rule, soils in the Eastern and Southern United States tend to be acidic. The Midwest tends to be more neutral, while soils in the Southwest and West tend toward alkalinity. The level of acidity originates from three main sources: rain, microbial activity, and nitrogen fertilizers.
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Super Easy Ways To Test Your Own Soil
It starts with a simple soil test and it ends with a gorgeous lawn Chances are, youre reading this…
It starts with a simple soil test and it ends with a gorgeous lawn
Chances are, youre reading this because you have a house, and youve probably heard that every house needs a good looking garden, and what makes a good looking garden: great soil. Like TV husbands in the 50s, good soil makes for sturdy, handsome lawns that will pretty much stick by you so long as theyre well fed. But heres the thing: soil tend to require a little more work than you first realise. The secret: learning about one another.
By learning as much as you can about your soil, youll be in a seriously good position to make decisions on what needs to be done in order to make it the perfect place for your lawn and plants to grow healthy and thick. Of course, there is a fair bit to wrap your head around, from the texture to the composition, the drainage to the acidity, and lets not forget ye olde mineral density. But learn this stuff and youll avoid soil-slash-lawn-based disappointment further down the line.
And in that spirit, here are four ways to test your soil:
Test No.1: Your Main Squeeze
To start with the basics, lets look at soils most basic characteristic: composition. To break it down for you, there are 3 main types of soil. There are clay soils, sandy soils and loamy soils, and heres a quick synopsis to help you tell the difference:
Why You Should Use Soil Test Kits
You need to understand why soil tests are carried out so we can pick the best soil kit for our garden. So, what is a soil test?
A soil test is a way of measuring the chemical and physical properties of your soil. The results will indicate what type of soils you have, where nutrients are deficient or excesses exist, and how to amend your planting medium for maximum plant growth. Its like having a garden consult without ever leaving home!
Soil tests are available commercially in the form of kits. There is usually an upfront cost for these types of kits, but they come with instructions and everything you need to perform your test. Some brands even allow you to send them back and receive free refills or new testing solutions!
What can soil tests tell you?
Soil samples can be tested in several different ways, depending on the type of soil. Results will indicate when your garden/soil needs amendments to provide nutrients for plant growth and health. It will also measure pH levels so that you know what kinds of plants are best suited to your area.
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Select The Proper Test
Several different soil tests are available at the Extension Soil, Water, and Forage Testing Laboratory. These include tests for routine nutrients, micronutrients, boron, detailed salinity, lime requirement, texture and organic matter. After taking the soil sample, select the appropriate test to obtain the desired information.
The routine test determines the soil pH, salinity, nitrates , and levels of the primary nutrients available to plants. The routine test will provide the basic N-P-K fertilizer recommendation for selected crops. This test meets most application needs.
The micronutrient test estimates the levels of zinc , iron , manganese and copper in the soil that are available to plants. Conduct this test for specialty crops, in soils with high pH on which corn or sorghum is being grown, or to provide general guidelines for troubleshooting deficiencies.
The boron test determines the level of water extractable boron in the soil. Conduct the test where clover, alfalfa or other legumes are grown on sandy soils or when soils are being irrigated and water quality is of concern.
The lime requirement determines the amount of lime needed to raise the soil pH to a desired level. This determination is needed on very acidic or acidic soils where alfalfa or other legumes are grown.
Are There Different Types Of Soil Testers
There are several different types of soil testers out there and they will give different combinations of measurements. When you just want to test the pH, you should not have a hard time finding an affordable meter. You can also get meters that will measure moistures levels as well as light. When you are measuring conductivity and pH, you will find lots of options that will combine these results. You can also find testers that will measure EC and TDS.
A high quality kit will give you the right amount of equipment to perform several tasks with just the one device. It should be a durable kit that comes with instructions on how to perform all the tests. If you cant find a tester that measures what you want, you can contact a professional to see what kits will work for you needs.
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