Canadian County OSU Extension Service

Soil Testing

Testing, Testing… 1,2,3…

Everyday people call with questions about their landscape. What is wrong with my grass; why isn’t it green? Why are my shrubs and flowers not blooming? How can I get a better vegetable crop? Often the first step to answering these questions and many others is to have a soil test done and now it the best time to do one. 

To have a beautiful lawn and productive garden, it is necessary to add fertilizer on a timely basis. When lawns and gardens do not receive the nutrients they need, they do not achieve the quality or productivity we anticipate. When too much fertilizer is applied, nutrients are wasted and pose a threat to the environment. In addition, you may be wasting money on fertilizer that you do not need.  By testing your soil now prior to the growing season and prior to adding fertilizer, you will be able to see what nutrients are already existing in your soil.   

All plants, including turfgrass and garden plants, need 16 essential nutrients to grow, most of them come from the soil. However, some of these nutrients may not be at high enough levels for the plants or depending on the soil pH, some of the elements may not be available to the plants. A soil test identifies the necessary fertilizer and lime requirements.

It is a simple procedure that is provided by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.  Each sample that is brought into our office is sent to OSU-Stillwater for analysis.  A report is then sent back to the county extension office where specific recommendations are made and sent to the owner.

These recommendations include the following information.

·         Which fertilizer is best for your lawn or garden.

·         How much of that fertilizer should be applied for each application.

·         When during the year each application should be made.

·         Whether your soil pH is in the proper range, if not how much lime or sulfur is needed to adjust it to the desired range.

In order to get a good analysis, you will want to take a representation from the whole area. Therefore, for lawn or gardens we suggest taking samples to a depth of 6 inches from 15 different locations. You should mix these samples together in a clean bucket and remove any plant debris or rocks. You can then bring in a quart size bag full of this soil for testing. 

It is recommended to test your lawn and garden separately.

The cost of soil tests begin at $10 for the basic test which will inform you about your nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and pH levels. Samples can be brought to the Canadian County Extension Office at 218 N. Country Club Road in El Reno.

If you have not recently done a soil test, now is a good time to conduct one before applying fertilizer. It may help to save the environment as well as your time and money, all while ensuring that you are providing your plants with the appropriate nutrients.   

Until next time - STOP, LOOK, and ENJOY!

~ Casey

Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments cooperating. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability or status as a veteran and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  The information given herein is for educational purposes only.  References made to commercial products or trade names are with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.

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