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San Diego

Should I Get My Soil Tested?

Posted by San Diego Landscaper on Tuesday, 5 September , 2023

One of the easiest and best ways to find out all the information you need about the health of your soil is to have it tested by a local authority.  With a soil test, you will learn about your soil’s average pH, salt levels, textural makeup, and level of nutrients to support plants.  If you are going to grow anything in your soil, you need to know this essential information.  A soil test can help you determine the best plants for your yard as well as learn why certain plants may not be thriving in your area.

What Happens During A Soil Test?

A soil test is actually very easy to do.  The lab you choose will send you a kit with instructions; you simply take samples of your soil and send it off for testing.  What may be a bit more difficult is deciding where on your property to test.  You want to test any area where you are interested in growing grass, shrubs, or other plants, but you may want to test several areas since soil can change drastically from one location to another.  A good rule of thumb is to test general areas where groups or types of plants are to be grown:  flower beds, lawns, and arbors of trees are good examples of grouping.  If your lab suggests mixing these samples, you can take core samples from each area and mix them equally, then prepare your overall sample from the mixture.  Otherwise, you may want each sample tested separately.

Once the samples have been collected, dried, and packaged, they are sent to an agricultural testing lab or a Cooperative Extension office for testing.  Most labs will not test for nitrogen, since it does not remain in the soil for extended periods of time.  However, they can test for many other factors, including:

  • pH level. The pH level of your soil indicates whether it is acidic or alkaline.  This can have a big impact on the types of plants that will thrive in your particular soil.  Fortunately, pH level is also one of the easiest things to amend; simply adding acids or soda to your soil will quickly change the pH.
  • The salt level in your soil will also have a large impact on your plants, particularly when it comes to water uptake.  If you live in an ocean environment, it is very important to consider this when choosing plants, as many will not thrive in salty atmospheres.
  • Soil texture. Soil is made up of three basic components: sand, silt, and clay.  Your soil will have some percentage of each of these components, and testing it will give you an idea of which one is most prevalent.  If your soil is very sandy, drainage will not be a problem but plants might require more frequent watering.  On the other hand, if your soil has a high percentage of clay, less frequent watering may be necessary to avoid holding too much water at the roots.
  • Nutrient levels. A good soil test can give you a great deal of information about the nutritional profile of your soil and help you know what to add in order to support strong plant growth.

If you are interested in learning more about soil testing, contact Juniper Landscape Company today.  We are happy to help our clients learn more about their soil and choose plants that will thrive in any conditions!

Juniper Landscape Company is a provider of professional landscaping services in San Diego, we strive to make San Diego a beautiful place by doing business with integrity and creativity.


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