If you want a lawn that is lush and green, and are willing to put some effort in, then you just might be rewarded for your work in the end. However, you can not achieve your green paradise without soil that is healthy. You need the proper levels of minerals and various organic matter in the soil, along with an appropriate pH level as well. The health of your soil directly impacts anything growing in it, or even anything trying to grow in it, like your dream green lawn. In Colorado, soil testing is available through the Colorado State University (CSU) soil testing laboratory. Click HERE for more information about CSO soil testing.

Soil Testing: Determining What’s In Your Soil

The soil testing request form will often include a section on what you intend to plant, and when you intend to plant it. For instance, you might be looking for healthy fall trees or a green summer lawn. That helps the service or lab in giving you specific suggestions and recommendations in terms of pH adjustments and nutrients that should be added, all based on the actual test results. Soil test reports typically give the specific amounts of potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen present in the soil, including minor nutrients such as aluminum, boron, iron, magnesium, and sulfur.

You’ll often encounter the N-P-K three-digit numbering system that fertilizers use when looking over the recommendations provided to you. The first number, N, is the nitrogen percentage. The second, P, is phosphorous, whereas the third, K, is potassium, based off its atomic symbol on the periodic table. Don’t worry if the numbers don’t total 100 percent; the remainder is usually micronutrients and some filler.

Sample Soils Carefully

The specific lab or kit using should also¬†have recommendations and suggestions on when and how to sample your soil. Many different containers and tools might contaminate the sample, yielding inaccurate results. One example is an unwashed bucket or container that previously carried enriched soils or fertilizers. A number of labs might have preferences for steel or even plastic tools, and other prefer soil that isn’t very wet.

They’ll also offer a bit of insight into just how many samples you ought to take, as well as where you should get them from specifically. Generally, you’ll want to group your tests in regards to what the testing area actually looks like. If there’s an area of your yard that’s well-shaded, lush, and green, then group those samples together for one test. Another yard area that is more rocky and sandy would comprise a second test. Any lab or kit is going to request multiple samples for every test, so don’t mix any samples together if you have more than one area. These tests have to be independent if you want the various areas of your garden or lawn to improve. You might discover that you have multiple areas needing help.

Measuring Soil Acidity or PH Level

Another critical component of soil testing includes reading soil acidity. A number of plants simply grow better in soil that is more acidic, whereas others do better in neutral pH terrain. Sulfur, peat, and lime are often used to adjust pH of soil, and that’s why it’s critical to list the kind of plants you hope to grow for your test lab so they can know if you’re just looking for a green lawn or hoping for thriving blueberry bushes.

The whole subject of nurturing a green lawn and soil testing overall is a bit more complex than just one article can hope to cover. Much like training a dog good habits and behavior, you’ll shape your lawn in a few great ways, but you may also make a few mistakes along the way. The whole idea is to just start dabbling in the processes of testing and nurturing – and learning. You’ll create a better and longer-lasting positive impact on your lawn as you get better at it.

Knowing the health of your soil through soil testing is a critical component of a great lawn or garden. And, thanks to CSU’s soil testing program, it’s easy and inexpensive to determine the health of your soil.

(c) Can Stock Photo / stevanovicigor

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