Soil tests provide important information about the nutrient status of the soil under your grass. You can use the test results to select and apply the kind of nutrients, and how much, to provide the optimum soil fertility for your particular kind of grass. In fact, without conducting a soil test first, fertilizing a lawn, golf course or sports field could be a waste of time and money, especially if your soil already has adequate nutrients.
If you haven’t tested your soil in the last year or so, now is a particularly good time, before grass growth resumes in spring (i.e., before the plants need nutrients). Conducting your soil test early in the season allows time for the analysis and for any needed lime application. Lime reacts slowly to reduce soil acidity; so, the sooner you apply it, the better.
Soil-test kits are typically available for a nominal cost from your local farmers cooperative or county Extension office. The kits are easy to use and include simple instructions for sampling the soils in your lawn and landscaping areas.
Test results will provide an assessment of the levels of major plant nutrients, soil pH (acidity) and micronutrients in your soil. In addition, the results will include recommendations on how much fertilizer (and what kind) and lime you should apply.
The test results usually take about two weeks to arrive back after you mail off the samples. If you follow the test recommendations, you probably won’t need to test again for two or three years, and in the meantime, you’ll know exactly how to “feed” your grass for its best growth and appearance.