August 13, 2014

SoilWhy conduct a soil test?

Lawn and garden plants require 18 nutrients for healthy growth and productivity. The soil is a reservoir of these nutrients. Plants utilize these nutrients but they need to be replenished from time to time. By having your soil tested you can learn which nutrients are present and which ones need to be added depending on the plant(s) you are trying to grow. You can also avoid over-application of fertilizers which can waste money, reduce plant quality and pollute streams, lakes and groundwater. Below is information and the process on obtaining a soil test.  Then, based on your soil test results, you will receive a custom fertilization program to meet the needs of your plants and safeguard the environment.

    1. Obtain an MSUE Home Lawn and Garden Soil Test Mailer – there is an office located right on Zeeb Rd, north of I-94 at the MSU Extension office.  The cost is only $25.
    2. Decide which one lawn or garden area you would like to test. Use a spade or a trowel and a clean plastic pail.
    3. Collect 10 random soil samples from this lawn or garden area. Each of these samples should be about 1/2 cup.
    4. To do so, remove a slice of soil (extending to the bottom of the plant roots 3 inches deep for lawn; 7 inches deep for all other plants).
    5. Do not include roots, thatch or other plant materials in the sample.
    6. Mix the 10 sub-samples together. If the soil is wet, spread it on paper and allow to air dry overnight before filling the sample bag. Do not use artificial heat (i.e. radiator, oven, microwave, hair dryer, etc.) to force-dry the sample.
    7. Place roughly 1 cup of the well-mixed soil inside the resealable plastic bag that is included in the Soil Test Mailer and seal carefully.
    8. Do not overfill the plastic bag. Do not pour extra loose soil inside the white postage-paid envelope.
    9. The Home Lawn and Vegetable Soil Test Mailer can be used to process any type of home soil sample (lawn, vegetable garden, tree, shrub, flower, and tree/small fruit).
    10. Soil tests are then mailed to the local state extension office, and are then sent to Lansing for analysis.  Test results usually take 2-3 weeks from collection.

At Twin Oaks, our goal is to provide a sustainable solution for you by giving you the opportunity to get the best value out of your landscape.  If you are interested in having us collect the soils for you, please let us know, and we can offer you a quote for the services.