From raking leaves to fertilizing your grass, there is plenty to do in the spring regarding lawn care in Rhode Island. Many of us can’t wait to get out there and start planning our gardens and landscapes. But before you make a trip to the nursery, and invest in lawn care services, make sure you know what kind of soil you have in your yard. Most homeowners take their soil for granted, not knowing that a lot of environmental factors in the soil can affect how your plants grow. Read on to find out why testing your soil is valuable and important.
Getting a soil test can help you better plan this year’s lawn care services so your plants and ornamentals can perform at their best. Soil pH is measured on a scale from 0-14. The soil in your yard should ideally fall between 6.2 and 7.2. When pH levels fall below 7.0, the soil is considered acidic. Soils in Rhode Island are generally more acidic due to our heavier-than-average rainfall and coupled with deposited minerals and underlying bedrock. As acidity levels rise in our soil, it makes it difficult for nutrients such as potassium and phosphorus to be absorbed by plants.
How To Correct Acidic Soil
Acidic soils reduce the effectiveness of fertilizers and create an ideal environment for weeds and diseases. However, acidic soils can be corrected with the application of lime. Lime helps to increase microbial activity in the soil, increases the efficiency of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, and Improves the effectiveness of fertilizers and herbicides.
On the other hand, there are alkaline soils. If soil pH rises higher than 7.0, soil is considered alkaline. These types of soils have excess amounts of sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Alkaline soil makes it harder for plants to draw up nutrients they need, resulting in stunted growth.
Correcting Alkaline Soil as Part of This Year’s Lawn Maintenance Routine
Alkaline soils are usually found in desert or arid regions, but our soils in Rhode Island can become too alkaline if we add too much lime. One of the easiest ways to correct alkaline soil and increase soil acidity is to add sulfur. Most garden centers and nurseries in Rhode Island sell garden sulfur next to the compost or fertilizers. Another way to correct alkaline soil is to add peat moss. Peat moss is for increasing drainage, but it also increases soil acidity.
The Best Time To Test Your Soil in Rhode Island
Soil tests can be performed any time the ground is not frozen. The best time to get your soil tested is in the spring, so you can fix any issues before you start planting. The soil in your yard should be tested every 3-4 years, and vegetable gardens should be tested every 2-3 years.
Come Up With A Plan
The first thing you want to consider before doing a soil test is to decide where you want to plant. Soils in your front yard can be different from your back, and soils under certain trees will differ from soils under other trees. So you want to take soil samples from several different regions of your yard. Samples should be taken from shady areas, sunny areas, and areas that are wet or dry.
Gather Your Samples
Now the fun can begin. First, clear away any debris that could potentially contaminate your samples. Use a small garden trowel and stick it into the soil about 3 inches deep. Pull out a core sample at least that long and put them in separate containers. Finally, it’s time to mail the soil samples to a local soil testing facility to get them tested.
Invest in Professional Lawn Care Services With 4everGreen
Our six-step lawn care program includes fertilization, weed control, and grub control to ensure your yard looks its best all year. The lawn care programs can be designed to meet the needs of you and your lawn. We also offer 100% organic programs as well.
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