Why Testing Your Garden Soil is Important

Between the mulching, mowing, fertilizing and planting, there are a handful of items that contribute to a successful yard and garden. However, before you break ground, it's important to test your garden soil to make sure it's healthy and ready for work.  Doing so will not only indicate which nutrients your soil contains or is lacking, but testing your garden's soil readiness will impact how well plants can grow in the coming seasons.

Here are ways you can check the quality and readiness of your garden soil and give your yard and plants the nutrients they need.

  • Take a handful of soil and pack it together. If the ball of soil breaks apart easily when you drop it, it's ready for gardening. If it's too difficult to break or it plops when you drop it, the soil is still too wet.
  • Test your soil pH levels annually to determine which supplements it needs. You can purchase an at-home soil testing kit or you can test the quality of your soil at a professional soil testing lab. This test will measure your soil's pH, nutrient levels and, if requested, organic matter.
  • Take note of any weeds in your yard.  They can serve as pH indicators for your soil. For example, dandelions prefer a pH level of 7.5 and signal low calcium levels, while English daisies and hawkweeds thrive in low pH. Medic, trefoil and clover all indicate low nitrogen levels.
  • If you maintain an organic compost, add it to your soil to help improve soil structure, water storage, microorganism life and soil richness.


The Dirt from Troy-Bilt®, January/February 2014