Soil testing can be a great way to determine what sorts of nutrients your soil lacks and what kinds of fertilizers you might need. A standard test will include a pH reading of your soil along with the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium found in your lawn.
One of the best soil testing resources that we have here in Texas is A&M’s AgriLife Extension Service. AgriLife conducts soil tests for only $10 and will give you a more in-depth analysis than a do-it-yourself soil test you can find in stores. Simply collect a soil sample and send it to the Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory in College Station along with a check and an online form. In a few weeks’ time you should receive a full analysis of your lawn’s soil along with recommendations for fertilizers.
To receive an accurate reading the AgriLife website suggests that you take four or five soil samples from around your yard. Using a spade, remove soil to a depth of three to four inches below the surface. Then combine the samples together in a plastic bucket and pick out all rocks and other debris. Mix the samples around and then put a final, one pint sample into the bag that you’ll send to the lab in College Station. You can either pick up a sample bag at your local county’s Agrlife Extension office, or use a pint-sized plastic bag.
The report you receive back will include a full nutrient, acidity and alkalinity analysis. It will also give a recommended number of pounds of each nutrient to apply per 1,000 square feet of lawn. You’ll have to do the math yourself to determine how many pounds of fertilizer you’ll need to buy to fully cover your yard.