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Soil Testing

soil testingA lawn care or tree care program alone with necessary treatments will do a good job maintaining your lawn or landscape. However, every property’s soil is uniquely different and thus the need for soil testing to determine how your lawn or landscape can take full advantage of the treatments you’re already giving it.

We offer Penn State soil analysis to evaluate your soil, and are capable of making any recommended amendments such as Limestone, Sulfur, Phosphorus, Potassium, or other nutrients to make your lawn or landscape look its best.

Lawn Soil Testing

Standing in the grassLawn soil testing as well as that for trees and shrubs in your landscape, specifically targets these deficiencies. When we test soil, we take samples of soil from areas throughout your lawn and then send the samples to the lab at Penn State. They will analyze the soil to look for issues with the items listed below.

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  • pH Levels:  Turfgrasses prefer to grow in a soil with a pH of 6.5-7.0. We often correct low soil pH (acidic) in our area by adding limestone. If soil pH is below optimum levels, lawns will have a decreased availability of plant nutrients and other elements (causing loss of vigor and color), thatch decomposition will decrease, some turfgrass pests and diseases will be more prevalent, and pesticide activity will be diminished. Every variety of tree and shrub that you have in your landscaping also has an ideal soil pH it will grow best in. Many times, soil pH needs to be corrected by adding sulfur to lower the pH around these plants so they can take in nutrients properly.
  • Phosphorus Levels:  Although it is present in small amounts in balanced fertilizers, phosphorus is extremely important for rooting, seedling development, cell division, and the synthesis of various compounds used by plants. When we test the soil, we look for what our normal program will not replace. Phosphorus deficiencies in turf are usually expressed in the early stages of seedling development, appearing as discoloration of leaf blades and as reduced growth and spreading of the young grass plants. In landscape trees and shrubs, this deficiency will promote poor root development and other problems.
  • Potassium Levels:  Potassium is a primary turfgrass nutrient and is usually supplied annually as fertilizer to lawns. When we test the soil, we look for what our normal program will not replace. Potassium activates plant enzymes used in protein, sugar, and starch synthesis. Thus, it has a strong influence on drought tolerance, cold hardiness, and disease resistance of turfgrasses. Deficiencies of potassium in turf may be expressed as increased susceptibility to drought, winter injury, and disease. The same is also true for these deficiencies in your landscape trees and shrubs.

Tree & Shrub Soil Testing

katsura tree - fall colorSoil testing for specific plant nutrition needs are also available, as well as, any recommended amendments to provide nutrients for plants that Penn State may determine necessary. If soil pH or nutrient levels are not at optimum levels, this may cause poor color or vigor in trees and shrubs, and also may negatively contribute to other plant health issues. Testing trees and shrubs is very important, as many plants are imported and not native to our area. Even in the instance of native plants, it is common to have issues that need addressed.

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