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Soil Testing Your Turf

Soil Testing Your Turf

Soil testing is a great way to confirm whether or not you have an imbalance in your soil nutrient base and pH.   The most important nutrients are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK). However, other minerals like Calcium and Magnesium are also important for turf and soil health and can be easily adjusted using lime and dolomite.

Checking pH is critical since a low pH creates a very acidic environment which can lead to moss growth, and contributes to reduced nutrient uptake (see the nutrient uptake brochure). 

Getting a soil test from a lab is the most accurate way of measuring your pH, and available nutrients. Lab reports will tell you how much lime or dolomite you will need to raise your pH to the optimum 6.5 to 6.7 range.  You can also find charts online that will give you how much prilled lime you need based on soil type (sand, loam or clay) to raise pH 1 point per so many square feet. 

King County Conservation District offers free soil testing, so if you live in King County just go to for their instructions on how to take samples and forms for sending in soil samples.  

If you live outside King County you might want to contact your local conservation district to see if they provide free soil testing. If not then just follow the simple instructions provided on the site for taking and combining samples, and send them in yourself.  A&L Western Laboratories in Portland, OR does the tests for the King County Conservation District program. They service the agricultural industry, and offer a number of soil tests to choose from at very reasonable prices.

We often use Wallace Labs, who provide instructions for taking samples and offer organic solutions to soil imbalances and include an overview writeup with their reports. 

Regardless of which lab you use, these affordable tests can make a big difference with your soil and turf health. 

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