Don't Guess, Soil Test
Extension Faculty: Horticulture
UF/IFAS Santa Rosa County Extension
Most of our warm season lawn grasses have now gone dormant for the winter. While your lawn chores will be reduced, there are a few tasks that still need to be done to ensure a healthy lawn in the spring.
Soil collection kits are available at your local Extension Office Photo Credits: Theresa Friday, Santa Rosa County
Having a soil test performed on your lawn is something that can be done now that will certainly pay dividends later. It is advisable to get a soil test done about every three years.
A soil test performed at the University of Florida’s Extension Soil Testing Laboratory will provide you information on nutrient levels as well as the pH of your soil. The cost is $7 per sample. For more information, or to pick up a collection kit, contact your local Extension Office.
The soil pH refers to the relative acidity or alkalinity of the soil and is measured on a scale from 0-14, with 7 being neutral and anything lower being acidic and numbers above 7 indicating alkalinity. Soil pH has a tremendous impact on the availability of soil nutrients and soil microbial activity.
Most of our turf grasses prefer soils that are slightly acidic with a pH range of 6.0-6.5. Centipede is an exception and will perform better in the range of 5.0-5.5. If your soil pH results indicate the need for lime, winter is a great time for an application.
Liming sources take months to alter the pH, so putting lime out now will give you a head start for next spring. The winter rains during these idle months will also help get the lime reacting in the soil.
The health and vigor of your lawn also depends on applying the right type of fertilizer at the appropriate times. Too little or too much fertilizer will cause problems for the growth, appearance, and health of your lawn. A soil test will help you determine the best type of fertilizer for your spring lawn application.
A soil analysis may be just what your lawn needs for greater fertilizer efficiency, thatch control, disease management, and overall turf health.