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Why Test Your Soil?

Soil testing can tell you so much about your soil!

Here in Texas, we have to deal with heavy and compacted clay soil. It’s hard, sticky and difficult to work in without regularly amending it with organic matter. Blackland Prairie soil is high in nutrients; but those nutrients are often bound up in the soil so that plants can’t absorb them. In order to encourage the release of key nutrients, specific amendments or feeds may be needed along with beneficial microbes.

Sometimes, you can have an excess of certain nutrients in the soil. You may be unknowingly over-fertilizing your lawn and landscape with too much of one nutrient that you just don’t need. Certain disease and pest issues can be brought on by nutrient deficiencies or excesses. If you don’t know exactly what’s going on in your soil, it can be tough to solve the problem long term. This is where soil testing comes in handy. Often when we evaluate a yard that is having overall health issues, we recommend doing a basic soil test so that we can fine tune your treatment program.

How do you know if your soil needs testing?

If you feel that you’re watering, feeding and maintaining your lawn properly, but just aren’t seeing the results you expect, poor soil health is probably the culprit. Healthy soil is key to healthy plants and the best way to find what your soil may be lacking is to get a soil test.

What is tested in the soil?

When you join our Soil Building Program we may recommend an additional soil test before we get started. We make sure your soil is tested by an accurate and reputable third-party soil analysis provider. They’ll test your soil's pH level and ability to hold and exchange nutrients. They’ll also measure the active humus (organic matter) content in the soil and levels of important nutrients like Calcium and Magnesium. The soil test will also tell you how much of the major nutrients, such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are present in your soil. You may not have enough; but you may also have too much.

  • pH: We are more concerned about the nutrient quantity in our soil than the pH. Too much or too little of specific nutrients affect the soil. Balance your nutrients and you’ll balance the pH!
  • Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen is a part of chlorophyll, which is the green pigment in the plant that is responsible for photosynthesis. Nitrogen is needed for all green leafy growth.
  • Phosphorus (P): Phosphorus is  important in cell division and development of new tissue. It is key for the development of new flower buds, fruits and roots.
  • Calcium(Ca): Too much Calcium in the soil can prevent the efficient uptake of other nutrients. Calcium is also needed to feed the microorganisms and affects the permeability of plant cell walls and the thickness of stems.
  • Magnesium (Mg): Magnesium is important for photosynthesis and acts as the glue in soil. But, too much Mg in soil causes compaction and tightness.
  • Potassium (K): Potassium is the most critical factor in a lawn's ability to withstand wear and tear. In trees, potassium helps provide stalk strength. In our drought conditions, Potassium is important because it helps plants survive low-water conditions.
  • Sodium (Na): Normally, sodium is not a concern. Some neighborhoods, however, have salt problems caused by incorrect watering and fertilization, which causes the salt to accumulate. We recommend one inch of water a week without causing excessive runoff. This schedule will flush the harmful salts out of the root zone.

Soils tests can also be used to detect unwanted pollutants in your soil. If you’re concerned your soil may be contaminated in some way, there are special soil tests to look for things such as heavy metals.

More details on what is tested in your soil here. Ready to get tested? Contact us.

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Soils Alive is an active member of the Agronomy Society of America (ASA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and Crop Science Society of America (CSSA).

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Soils Alive, Inc. has been a member and accredited business with the Better Business Bureau since 2004. You can find our listing here. We are presently an A+ rated business.

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Soils Alive is a member of the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association(TNLA). TNLA is Texas' largest and most prominent green industry advocacy and governance group, and was set up to promote the landscape, nursery and horticulture industry in Texas. 

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We earned the 2014 Super Service Award from Angie's List. The award reflects consistent high levels of customer service. Check our reviews atAngie's List. We won the 2013 Super Service Award as well.

1821 Wall Street
Garland, TX 75041
Ph: 972.272.9211

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