When Matt’s technicians suspect there are performance issues with your lawn, just adding fertilizer is not our first action. The reason being if soil deficiencies exist, fertilization is ineffective.
Just as you would expect a doctor to test a patient prior to beginning care, in order to improve the quality of your turf, we take soil samples and send them to A&L Great Lakes lab for analysis, in order to guide our plan for turf improvement.
Healthy grass plants require strong root systems. Grass plants also require healthy soil and conditions which provide them the opportunity to absorb water, oxygen and nutrients from the soil. It is important to remember that deep vigorous root systems are the key to healthy turf. In the make up of good soils, material and organic matter comprise about 50% of normal volume. The remaining 50% of the volume is open pore space. Ideally, about half of the pore space is filed with air and the other half with water.
With these factors in mind, the results of the test report provide the following important information:
Soil pH – This is an easy way to express concentration of the acid (hydrogen ions) in your soil. A pH range of 6.0 to 7.0 seems to promote the most ready availability of plant nutrients. At levels below 6.0 the soil is considered acidic and at levels above 7.0 the soil is considered alkaline.
In soils with pH levels below 6.0, the grass plants cannot make effective use of the nutrients in the ground or those supplied by fertilization. As a result the grass plants do not achieve the strong, full look of health turf. The action necessary is to lime the soil in order to move pH into the acceptable range.
Mg – The % base saturation of Mg is an indicator of soil compaction. When turf soil is compacted, there is reduced soil pore space (the spaces between soil particles); decreased movement of water and air into and within the soil; decreased soil water storage; and increased surface accumulation and erosion. The grass plants do not have the proper conditions for growth.
Core aeration is the removal of quarter sized plugs of soil the reach 2-3 inches deep. This allows 50% more air, water and nutrients to reach deeper down to the root zone. In heavy clay soils aeration may be necessary every year. The action necessary is to aerate the soil.
This is how we use soil testing to guide our turf care program.