It’s a great time of the year to be a landscaper. The temperatures are finally getting warmer, the leaves are ready to come out and suddenly our lawns are beginning to show a greenish tint!
Last week we tuned up our hand tools and power equipment, raked and fertilized our lawns and finally did that soil test that I have been bugging you about. Your muscle soreness should be subsiding as the chore of raking reminded us that maybe we should start actually using our gym memberships. It’s still a week or so early for us to starting thinking about mulch so I am going to take it easy on you this week.. We are going to try a quick an easy soil test that only takes 15-20 minutes and the results are instant. I borrowed this from my friend, Phil Nauta, who is the most knowledgeable person I have ever met when it comes to soil and growing vegetables. Here goes…
Using that freshly sharpened spade, pick a random spot in the yard and dig a hole 1 foot long, 1 foot wide and 1 foot deep. Take the following observations…
Was it easy to dig the hole or would you compare the chore to digging through concrete?
Hopefully the chore was easy and you uncovered dark, rich soil brimming with organic matter and full of life. Ideally we want our soil to be dark brown, easily form into a ball, then break apart with a gentle squeezing of the hand.
Take a good sniff!
We want our dirt to have the smell of the forest floor which means that our soil is draining well. Should you experience any foul odor similar to rotten eggs, it’s a sure sign that you have drainage problems.
How much life do you see?
Healthy soil will have at least 10 earth worms moving around and several other life forms. Lack of insects means lack of organic matter and nutrients.
How deep are the roots???
Grass roots should extend at least an inch into the soil. Shallow roots mean compacted soil and lack of organic matter.
A gorgeous lawn, healthy shrubs and succulent vegetables have one thing in common. HEALTHY SOIL full of organic material. A common thread in all of my articles is the term “Compost Pile”. I highly recommend having a compost pile where you can recycle everything from egg shells to leaves. Composting is an all natural process that breaks down organic material back into a rich, fluffy, topsoil like material that you can add to your lawn and garden to enrich your existing soil. Fresh compost will correct most, if not all, of the soil deficiencies listed above. If you don’t have access to a compost pile, you can buy compost in any garden center, nursery or hardware store. Much, much more on compost in later articles.
If you have any questions or comments, please post them in the comment section below. I answer questions as quickly as possible.
That’s it for this week! If you need me to come to your property and analyze your soil, professionally mow your lawn or completely make over your existing property, contact me in any of the following ways…