The Importance Of Performing A Soil Test & How It Is Done

When plants are in trouble, the first instinct people have is to hydrate them and add fertilizer. What most people fail to understand is that the lack of water and fertilizer are not the only reasons why plants get in trouble. The health of the soil has a big part to play. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that 80% of plant problems are related to unhealthy soil. This is why testing the soil is very important in tree care. A soil test will give you information on the best way to care for the plants.

How Do You Perform A Soil Test?

Performing a soil test is not as complicated as you might think. You just need a soil testing kit, a bucket, and a garden trowel. You then have to follow these four steps.

  • Select A Spot

    Select a spot in your garden to get started. Dip the trowel about 6 to 10 inches and pull the chunk of soil and put it in the bucket.

  • Repeat

    Repeat this 10 to 15 times zigzagging across your garden in order to get random samples on your garden.

  • Rigorously Mix

    Rigorously mix the collected samples.

  • Soil Testing

    Scoop about 2 cups of the soil and set aside for testing.

What Does Soil Tests Look For?

Soil tests are meant to check two things: the pH of the soil and the nutrients that are in the soil. Knowing this information can help you a lot. The best thing is that it takes about 10 minutes to collect soil samples.
When the pH levels are too high or too low, plants will be unable to take in the nutrients that are provided to them. The soil test will help you know what needs to be done to balance out the pH. The test eliminates the guesswork that often makes things worse.
On the other hand, when the nutrients in the soil are identified, you will be able to know what is lacking. This information will help pick the best fertilizer to fill the gaps. Knowing what nutrients are lacking will save you a lot of time and money by only purchasing and using the fertilizer that your plants need. The test will also let you know how much fertilizer is needed.

Best Time To Check The Soil Around Your Trees

The best time to perform a soil test is weeks prior to planting. You can test in early fall to know the state of your soil before you start planting in late fall or early spring.

Where To Get Free Soil Testing

There are county extension offices that perform soil testing for free. You just get a kit from them, collect the soil sample, drop it off at their facility and they will do the testing for you. You get the results within a couple of weeks. Even if your county doesn’t offer free testing, soil testing is cheap. It costs about $10 to $15.
You can also use DIY soil test kits in the garden stores. The problem is that you will not be able to tell if the results are accurate. Working with professionals is the best way to go for detailed, expert information.  

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