How to Do a Soil Test via Hardware Store Kit
For the average property owner, there’s always something new to learn about taking care of a lawn. Doing an independent soil test with a hardware store kit is one way to get intimate with your lawn by improving its ability to grow plants and maintain a clean appearance for your lawn.
A do-it-yourself soil test can also help you see which nutrients are lacking in your garden. Nutrients like nitrogen and potassium are highly important to ensuring the growth of grass and other plants around your property. Doing a soil test can help you see what your lawn is missing and guide you on ways you can tackle the problem.
Importance of pH
One of the most important lessons you’ll get out of doing a soil test is how important pH is to a healthy soil. pH, which is used to measure levels of acid and alkaline in soil, is highly important to plant growth, especially in grass. If the soil pH is too low, grass won’t grow; too high, and it could cripple the lawn’s ability to maintain a sustainable, long-term health.
Much of the availability of nutrients in soil also has to do with pH. Calcium, for example, requires a pH of at least 6.5 in order to be available to plants. Other nutrients are usually only available at higher or lower pH levels. The “big three” nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – are only available at neutral pH levels of 6.0-7.0.
You’re also helping the environment by knowing and adding just enough fertilizer needed for the plants. In adding too much, it can wash out into groundwater systems, streams, and lakes, causing problems for your lawn later on. A soil test that indicates pH is a great starting point in getting your lawn back on to a healthier track.
How to Use Soil-Testing Kits
Easy-to-use home kits from the garden center or hardware store are available to test the soil on your own. They generally test for pH and the presence of big-three components (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium).
To use an independent soil-testing kit, you’ll need to do separate tests for different areas of the lawn and garden. This includes the front yard, backyard, any vegetable and flower gardens.
Next, use a shovel to dig up samples from each area and put them in separate containers. Once they’ve been collected, use the reaction powder that comes with the kit and test for the contents of the soil. Combine water and shake. The soil should change colors, to which you’ll have to compare to a key given with the test kit in order to see the pH of the soil.
From here, you can make the adjustments needed to bring your lawn to neutral pH levels and get grass growing healthy again. You may need to purchase fertilizer that contains certain amounts of the big-three elements so that the soil is getting everything it needs. For an expert opinion, consider reaching out to a professional lawn care service for assistance.