Soil Samples are an important aspect of turf health as it helps manage the nutritional values in the foundation of your lawn. These tests determine quantities of lime and fertilizer needed in lawns and gardens.

Sorensen Outdoor Services can complete a soil sample for you, or they are available through the VA extension office. When completing a soil test, it is essential to pull 3-5” plugs from various places in the lawn. Pack your soil sample in the provided packaging and send it to the lab that will test for pH level, organic matter, clay, and nutrients. These levels are essential in your lawn care program as it will alert you to any actors that may be hindering your lawn from flourishing.

One of the main reasons to sample your soil is to test for the pH. The pH of the soil is the determining factor in how easily the roots can absorb the nutrients that keep the plant healthy, green, and weed free. A lawn with the proper pH will also be less susceptible disease and pests. If the pH is below 6.2 or above 7.2, the fertilizer you apply may not be effective as the plant does not have the ability to absorb the nutrients.

How do I correct my soil if it is too acidic?

A soil sample will provide a recommendation for the amount of lime to apply in bringing your soil pH to the appropriate level. This is done in 50lb per thousand square foot increments every 4-6 weeks until the pH is raised to the appropriate level. Several soil samples may be needed if the pH is very low to determine how much the lime has corrected the soil.

How do I correct my soil if it is too alkaline?

While uncommon in Virginia, the most common method of lowering the pH of the soil is to apply sulfur. Follow the application directions to successfully lower the pH of your lawn.

Two other categories tested in the lab are the amount of organic matter and the amount of clay in the soil. Many lawns in Virginia are primarily clay with very little organic matter. Unfortunately, this inhibits the ability for air and nutrients to penetrate to the roots of your turf. Providing the turf grass with the appropriate amount of organic matter will reduce the amount of irrigation and disease controls that are applied from year to year.

Whether your lawn is in the best or worst shape ever, a soil test each year is beneficial to determine any necessary corrections to the soil. Remember, the health of your lawn is dependent on the part that we cannot see. Healthy soil is essential for a healthy plant.

If you have any questions or would like to request a soil sample, give us a call at 540-845-6203.