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With all the effort you put into your garden, have you noticed that your plants are looking less than their best? Maybe you’ve changed your watering routine or added fertilizer, but nothing seems to be working. The solution may be found in a simple soil test.
A soil test can tell you what the ground may need for your plants to truly thrive. Most times, this is overlooked by new homeowners. However, it’s the best way to better understand the soil your working with and what plants will bloom best. If you’ve lost your green thumb recently, here’s why you should consider soil testing and what methods work best.
To learn the most about the soil, you’ll want an expert opinion. Contact a landscaping pro for up to four quotes from contractors in your area for free.
Why Test Your Soil
If you’re an avid gardener or investing in your landscaping, soil testing is not a step you’ll want to miss. There are many types of soil testing you can do to determine what’s in your ground. Even larger projects such as an inground pool installation or a home addition, a soil test can determine if there are any contaminates that can impact your new installation.
Soil Testing Costs
The costs of soil testing can vary greatly if you decide to make this a DIY project or if you contact a pro. While DIY tests are easy and save money, you may not find out all you’d like to know about what’s in your ground. The average cost to test soil is $1,142 with most homeowners spending between $947 and $1,550.
Types Of Soil Tests
Not all soil tests are the same. There are simple tests that can help you determine how acidic your soil is which impacts plants of all kinds, or other more in-depth tests that can give you more information about what minerals are in your soil. While some tests you can do yourself, others should always be done by a contractor. Here are a few common soil tests:
Soil Density Test
If you’re looking to add an addition to your home or build a foundation, you’ll want to understand your soil’s density. This means you’ll know how your soil changes with or without moisture.
Test Soil pH
The pH levels of soil can highly impact the success of a plant to grow. Plants will often include certain guidelines of what pH level they can take in the soil. A pH level below 5.0 is toxic for plants and greens. If you notice your plants dying in your yard, test for this and know that you can change the levels with the right care.
If you’d like to know more about what plants will thrive in your soil, a soil fertility test might be the best choice. This will give you the most information about what minerals, chemicals and nutrients are found in your soil. Then, you can determine what fertilizers may need to be added to improve your soil quality.
Soil Test Pro
To understand the complete chemical makeup of your soil and seek professional advice, it’s a good idea to contact a soil testing contractor who can help you understand what’s actually in the ground. It’s a good idea to contact a professional when you’re starting new construction, adding a pool or installing a new landscaping project. They can identify all the elements in your ground as well as provide with solutions you need to improve your soil. This is the best way to find out all there is to know so you can successfully complete your outdoor project.
Soil Testing Kit
For those looking to test their soil themselves, many local home and garden stores sell soil testing kits. While these kits are not as extensive as most, you can find out the basic things you need to know about your soil to determine if there are any issues. Soil testing kits range from $5 on the low end to $60 for a more extensive test. Some include all the materials you need to test your soil on the spot for pH levels, nitrogen, phosphorus and more by mixing your soil with as simple solution and measuring the color with a reader. Others require you to send your results to a lab, where they will return your data to you within a few weeks.
For simple gardening, a DIY soil test kit could be all you need to tell if your soil is healthy enough to grow fruits, vegetable or flowers. For new homeowners, this is a great place to start to get to know your new backyard a little better.
Simple Soil Test
For those who truly want to DIY, there are a few ways to test soil with ingredients you have at home. While they may not always give you the accuracy you desire for the solutions needed, you can get an idea of the pH levels in your soil. Because everything is all natural, it’s also a fun project you can do with your children as a fun science lesson!
You’ll need baking soda, vinegar, distilled water and soil samples in two cups. To start, add vinegar to one of the cups of soil. If the reaction is fizzy, that means the soil is mostly alkaline. Next, add the distilled water to the other soil sample with and a few spoonfuls of baking soda. If the soil reacts, your soil is mostly acidic. If neither sample reacts, your soil is neutral. From there, you can choose what plants will thrive on the type of soil you have.
Soil testing is extremely important for various landscaping projects or even simple gardening. For new homeowners or if you’ve been in you’re home a long time, get your soil tested before you start planting for the season to have the most successful chance for beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs!
Looking for more ways to grow the best garden on the block? Read The Guide To Garden Maintenance & Improvement.