Knowing Your Lawn: Soil
posted on April 6th, 2010 by Steve Schug
Keeping your lawn maintained and looking great starts with knowing what is underneath it: soil. You might think “dirt is dirt”, but in fact, soil can have quite the range. Being knowledgeable of what kind of soil you have in your yard will help you make the right choices for your lawn.
There are a few things you should be considering when thinking about soil and lawn care maintenance.
Test Your Soil
First, you should test your soil. Knowing what kind of soil you’ve got will help you know what nutrients you need. You can test your soil using a pH meter or a soil test kit.
Your pH meter will tell you the pH of your soil, which will range from 3 to 10 on the pH scale (see below). A 7 on the scale marks neutrality; any soil above that is considered basic or alkaline, while anything below is considered acidic. Most good soils will range from 5-7.
Discover Your Soil Type
After finding out the pH of your soil, you should grab a handful of your soil to discover the texture and type. If your handful of soil holds shape, it is clay-like. If it doesn’t it will be more sandy.
Clay like soil has a few advantages. It holds moisture and nutrients well, which means less time watering and less money spent on fertilizers. Despite this, there are a few disadvantages.
Clay like soil has poor drainage, allowing it to become oversaturated and deprive plants from the oxygen it needs. It can also warm slowly in spring, shortening the planting season. When it does dry, it can crust or crack, causing plant roots to tear.
Sandy soil has advantages. It drains easily and quickly, allowing for oxygen. It also is easily worked, and warms quickly in spring, allowing for quick planting. Despite these things, it also tends to have a low capacity for holding both moisture, needing more water and fertilizer. It is also subject to erosion.
An ideal soil is something in between sandy and clay like. To read more about soil types, click here.
If you’ve got clay like or sandy soil, there are a few things you can do to alter it to your needs. Add a generous amount of organic matter, like compost, manure, or peat moss. Spread a layer, between 3 or 4 inches thick, over your existing soil. Then thoroughly incorporate it into your existing soil. Be sure to do this, because just adding a layer on top won’t help.
Remember, do add organic matter in moderation. Too much can be harmful and toxic to your lawn.
Your Soil and Zoysia Plugs
Luckily, zoysia can grow in a variety of soils. But it is always best to alter your soil before planting plugs. It will help encourage your zoysia lawn establish and grow hearty and lush.