Test Your Soil for a Green Healthy Lawn

— Written By and last updated by

You can have a beautiful lawn without spending an extreme amount of money and protect our water quality at the same time.

Start by testing your soil. You need to know what your starting point is and have a baseline reading before you go out and apply lime or fertilizer. If you don’t, you may not apply enough to be sufficient or you may apply too much, in both cases wasting your money and with too much fertilizer applied, excesses can be carried into our streams and rivers.

Soil sampling kits from NC Cooperative Extension are available for pick up at the Union County Ag Center and at all Union County Libraries.

The cost for analysis is free from April 1 – Thanksgiving and $4.00 between December 1 – March 20. Directions for collecting a proper soil sample are included in the packet. You must fill in a code for the crop you are growing, so for lawns you have two choices Centipede or Not Centipede. The turn-around time for receiving your soil analysis is about two weeks. Your analysis report will include lime and fertilizer recommendations as needed for your site. If you don’t understand your report or have questions about it, you can call me at the Extension Office at 704-283-3729 for help.

Another important step in fertilizer application at the proper time. For cool season lawns such as tall fescue, the ideal time for fertilizing is in the fall. Fall fertilization encourages root growth, developing a strong root system that is deeper and more resistant to injury from diseases, insects, winter cold, and summer drought. If you are growing a warm season lawn, then spring is the proper time to fertilize.

Sampling your soil and applying proper amounts of fertilizer and lime at the appropriate time will get you on your way to having a healthy, beautiful lawn. Healthy turf is more resistant to damage from disease and insects and makes it hard for weeds to compete and become established.

To learn more about growing and maintaining healthy turf, visit the NCSU Turffiles website: http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/. For local advice on growing and maintaining your turf, you can contact the Union County Extension Master Volunteers via their Growline at 704-283-3822.