Testing soil in North Texas is an integral part of any commercial building project, lawn consultant service, or reputable lawn treatment service for property owners. That said, in the computer & IT world, there is a saying, "garbage in, garbage out." The same goes for a lawn soil testing service or even if you are using a DIY soil test kit from Home Depot. The test will only be as accurate as the quality of the soil cores you pull and the sample size used, and then only as accurate as the quality of the equipment used for the testing.
At DFW Turfgrass Science, we don't just claim to be disease and soil experts, as our director has a degree in Turfgrass Science & Golf Course Management. Separate from professional soil testing services, we also offer HOA & MDU commercial landscape consultant services to solve all kinds of disease, nutrient deficiency, landscape drainage, and shade or irrigation coverage problems you might be experiencing at your property. Remember: grass cannot die from old age; it dies for a reason (usually several reasons). We can help you find the reason(s), then create a structured, 12 to 24-month lawn treatment plan to cure it.
Why Testing Soil is Critical for North Texas Lawns - Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia
Lawn soil testing is a crucial process for maintaining healthy Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Zoysia grass in North Texas. A soil test provides valuable information about the nutrient levels, pH levels, and other characteristics of the soil. This information is essential for determining the appropriate fertilizer and other treatments required for the lawn.
- Determines nutrient deficiencies:
Soil testing helps determine the nutrient levels in the soil. Nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are essential for the growth and development of a healthy lawn. A soil test can identify nutrient deficiencies, enabling you to apply the appropriate fertilizers to correct the imbalance and stop the spread of several awful lawn fungus diseases in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas.
- Determines pH levels:
Soil pH is another important factor that affects the growth of the lawn. A soil test can help determine the soil's pH level, allowing you to adjust it if necessary. Most lawn grass's optimal soil pH range is between 6.0 and 7.0, and most of our black clay in North Texas has a PH from 7.5 to 8.1. High PH also leads to fertilizer “lock up” and exponentially worse disease spread.
- Prevents over-fertilization:
Applying too much fertilizer can harm your lawn. It can lead to an imbalance of nutrients, which can cause the grass to grow too quickly, become weak, or develop diseases. Soil testing helps prevent over-fertilization, ensuring the right amount of fertilizer is used.
- Improves soil health:
A soil test can provide information about the soil's texture, structure, and organic matter content. This information is essential for determining the right treatments to improve the soil's health, which can lead to a healthy and lush lawn.
In conclusion, soil testing is critical for maintaining healthy lawns. It is good for the environment and provides valuable information about the soil's nutrient levels, pH levels, and other characteristics. Soil testing helps to prevent over-fertilization, saves money, and improves soil health. Therefore, it is essential to conduct soil tests regularly to ensure that your lawn remains healthy and lush.
How to Test Soil PH - How to Test Soil Nutrients, Acidity, Nitrogen
We have put together a YouTube video to show you how to test soil PH and how to test soil acidity, nutrients, and nitrogen:
Otherwise, here are the professional steps we follow:
- Using a bleach-sanitized, stainless steel soil probe, pull soil cores to a depth of 6-12 inches.
- Depending on the sqft of the area being tested, pull 8-20 soil cores. Note: if you have large lawn areas or commercial projects, you must repeat this process for each area being tested.
- Throw out the grass and top chaff from the top of each soil core.
- Put all the cores in a sanitized, 5-gallon bucket. Chop the cores up with a shovel and mix them together.
- Note: you must repeat this process for each separate area being tested.
- Put one pint of soil into a zip lock bag per sample area. Fill out the soil laboratory form with all details about your recent fertilizer service, fungicide applications, organic material applications, etc. Then, mail it to your local soil water and forage testing laboratory.
We do not sell DIY soil test kits. We offer lawn soil testing and disease testing services in North Texas as part of our overall turfgrass consulting packages. Please click here to learn more: https://turfgrassscience.com/texas-landscape-consultants-near-dallas-lawn-consultant-horticulture/.
Soil Test Kit Home Depot vs Professional Soil Testing Service
Are you trying to compare a soil test kit from Home Depot vs a professional soil testing service? Homeowners and businesses typically pay a vendor for a service for three reasons: they don't have the free time to do it, they don't have the expertise to do it, and they don't have the tools to do it.
A professional soil testing service will have the proper tools to pull uniform cores. Here is the stainless-steel core tool we use:
However, it is not that simple for homeowners looking to use a Home Depot soil test kit. Why? Because the little .50 cent spade they give you in the kit can't go nearly deep enough. And a real soil core tool will cost $75-300 (Amazon has some unsharpened junk core tools for $25, made for loose garden-type soil or pure sand that usually breaks when hammering it into our tight clay lawns in north Texas). Therefore, unless you buy a coring tool, you will be left to get out a real shovel and dig 12-30 holes (depending on sqft) in your lawn.
I had a customer ask once, "Why is all of that necessary? There is some dirt right there in that dead spot; pick some up and put it in the bag." Going back to computer jargon and a little math, your soil test results can only be as accurate as your data sample. If your lawn is 3000 sqft and your roots grow to a minimum depth of 12+ inches, then you have a minimum of 111 cubic yards of soil for your grass roots to grow in. Soil can weigh anywhere from 1200-3000 pounds per cubic yard, but our clay soils in North Texas average around 2000 pounds per cubic yard, which = 222,000 pounds of topsoil in an average homeowner's lawn.
If you are planning on sending in a pint of soil to the soil testing lab, which is going to weigh around a pound, how on earth are you going to get accurate test results for all your nutrient levels when your "data sample" is not even a minuscule 1/100th of 1 %? Answer: unless you have the proper coring tool and follow the proper testing procedure, you are wasting your time and money; people lie about data, but data does not lie.
Whether you are going to use a Lowes or Home Depot test kit or you are going to hire a professional soil test service, make sure the person doing the sampling knows how to use a soil core tool.
Where to Take Soil Samples for Testing in Dallas Ft. Worth
You can get a soil test kit at Home Depot. Then, follow their instructions to mail it off to their facility. But if you are looking for where to take soil samples for testing near Collin County, Denton County, Dallas County, Grayson County, or Tarrant County, you first have to determine what type of soil testing you are trying to get done. Do you think all the soil testing labs are the same? They are not! Here are a few of the lab testing options that are available:
- Disease fungus testing (which people mistakenly think is part of soil testing).
- PH testing.
- Major nutrient testing: Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium.
- Micro-nutrient testing.
- Salinity testing.
- Texture analysis.
- Organic matter analysis.
- Compaction testing.
- Contamination testing.
- Water analysis.
- Percolation testing.
- And the list goes on and on.
In our opinion, the three best labs in the midwest/southwest for traditional turfgrass and soil testing are located at the three universities most focused on agriculture: Texas A&M, in College Station, TX; Kansas State University, in Manhattan, KS; and Oklahoma State University, in Stillwater, OK.
If your lawn is not in trouble, and you are not looking for a grass consultant like DFW Turfgrass Science LLC, and you just need a basic soil test then this post should answer your question about where to take soil samples for testing in Dallas and North Texas.