2nd property soil test results

nick-etApril 29, 2014


Here are my soil test results for the second property where I seeded Bermuda instead of St. Augustine Sod. I want to see what all I need to do in this lawn since I haven't done anything since my parents bought it and its the worse lawn in the neighborhood. There no grass growing and a lot of moss has started to grow around trees. This lawn is around 3200 sq ft.

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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

Hi nick. I'm not an expert at all, but if it was me I'd just look at the "level" columns. Things that are "VL" (very low) or "L" (low) need addressing. You could just follow their recommendations to the letter, or you could ask your nursery for cheapest, most organic, etc. ways to achieve the same thing.

Generally though these soils look "low" in primary nutrients.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:18AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

I don't have anything to add to what's already on those recommendations. pH is low, Ca is low, so limestone is the right remedy. N and K are low, but not P, so the recommendations for fertilizers with no P sound good.

One thing though, you didn't get an organic matter test. If the soil is not rich and black already, it could benefit from compost. If you're going to till it up and plant a lawn, add 1-2" compost along with the other amendments and till it all in. If you aren't tilling you can still add compost as a top dressing.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:57PM
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Soil pH is very low for most all plants, 5.5 instead of the optimal 6.2 to 6.8 pH most all plants like for growing. Your county extension agent should have put on that report how much, and which type, of lime you need to add.

Missing here too is organic matter. Phosphorus (P) is high while Potash (K) is very low and micro nutrients are listed as high. Organic matter often will help even those numbers.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 7:15AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

The report did suggest 20 lb of limestone per 1000 sq ft. I noticed upon re-checking that Mg is very low, so dolomitic limestone might be a good idea (it has Mg carbonate as well as Ca carbonate).

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:24AM
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Thanks everyone for the replies. I've added limestone as recommended on the test results. I have a local company that makes organic fertilizer in the following types 3-2-3, 6-2-6, 10-2-3 which should I buy. Should I till the lawn or should I wait since I seeded about 2 weeks ago? I had my soil tested in my local university "SFASU" but dint get an organic matter test, should I go back and get one too?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:05PM
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These simple soil tests can be of some help,
1) Soil test for organic matter. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. For example, a good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drainsâ too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.

Organic "fertilizers" rely on the Soil Food Web to feed the plants that are trying to grow in that soil so applying a "fertilizer" to soils low in organic matter can be a waste of time, energy, and money.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:12AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

As I mentioned in your other thread, no need to till up a recently planted lawn just to add organic matter. There are other ways to do that.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:00PM
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The only change I might make is replacing the 2 lbs of urea with 5 to 6 lbs of calcium nitrate for the first application. Urea is acidifying, while calcium nitrate eventually raises soil pH.

Later in the season, once the limestone has had time to work and raise the pH to reasonable levels, I would return to using urea when nitrogen is needed.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:39PM
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Well I went out today and got the organic matter analysis done. Here are the results. Total N%: 0.019 Total C%: 0.342 C/N Ratio: 17.60 %Organic Matter: 0.684 I guess the organic matter is really LOW, how much compost should I be adding here.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:48PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

I would evenly spread 1/2-1" of compost in the spring. That's not too much for grass to grow through, especially Bermuda!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 5:19PM
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You want between 6 to 8 percent organic matter in the soil so you could apply compost over the existing grass as long as it is not too deep so it smothers that grass. Most of us would recommend applying compost, no thicker than about 1/4 inch at a time, every month during the growing season. There is no real good reason to limit application of compost to spring.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:42AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

I guess that's true, it's just that a lot of homeowners don't have time to do repeat applications. I should have said spring or anytime during the growing season. Late fall or winter is probably not the best since some of the nutrients can leach away while the lawn is dormant.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:05PM
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I concur that compost can be laid on top of bermuda anytime, and the sooner the better, and as thick as you want (until the point it interferes with the mower blades).

Bermuda wll simply take over the compost. It's a "weed" to some people, known as "devil's grass", because it takes over cropland, causing starvation throughout the world. However, it is but one of only two grasses (st. augustine being the other) that make a practical lawn in many hot summer locales in the U.S.

After mowing, it makes for a good looking yard. I am trying to eliminate as much lawn as possible here in Texas with drought tolerant shrubs, plants and small trees, but other than native grasses, which do not stand up to foot-traffic well, it's the most drought/heat tolerant lawn grass available.

It is superior in full sun compared to st. augustine, which is a better choice in yards with partly shaded areas. Contrary to what many people advise, professionals as well as homeowners, I mow it at a very high setting after temperatures regularly exceed 90 F.

Avoid at all times ever cutting more than a fouth or a third of it's height, as you'll have to water it right away, becuase it will burn the turf, and you'll have to water more than would be otherwise necessary. Water deeply, and infrequently after it is established, which will encourage drought tolerance and deep roots.

I encourage you to grow winter rye this fall as a cover crop, which will give you a green lawn throughout the winter, then cut it real low in the spring, in order to hasten the takeover of your bermuda as temperatures warm up. It' a very handsome winter grass with deep roots.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:32PM
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When first getting a lawn into shape here in Texas, I top-layer the yard with compost, again, when planting rye grass for the winter. It's warm enough here that the soil life stays active pretty much throughout winter, so, that is why I say, any time of the year is a good time to add compost (in Texas). Repeat as many times as you like or can afford, to a height that doesn' bog down the mower. M

This post was edited by Mackel-in-DFW on Tue, May 6, 14 at 13:43

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:38PM
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I really appreciate all the help I have received with my questions. This is my moms house and the front lawn is the worse around. Hopefully the bermuda I seeded 3 weeks ago will take off if not I guess sod will be our option next year. I will include a picture I got from google maps that's a year old. I will be adding compost little by little every month so that the organic matter changes over time. Is there something I should look for when going to order compost?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:03PM
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That yard will do much better with St. Augustine, due to shade. Sorry, OP. M

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:11PM
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I was of afraid that the bermuda won't take off because of all the shade. I dint know that until I started reading around this forum and after I had already seeded, the good thing is now I'm learning how to correctly do my lawn and that there's great people here to help me overcome my ignorance.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:47PM
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Back at it. I found a local place that sells Palmetto and Raleigh St. Augustine sod but know nothing about either one. What would be some recommendations to amend my soil before laying down sod, should I till the lawn? Out of the two kinds of sod which would be better for my shaded areas. I really want to do thing right before going out and buying sod.

This post was edited by nick-et on Sun, May 11, 14 at 18:35

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 6:24PM
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Here is a link that might be useful: My Trusted Advisor's POV

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:06PM
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