PPLM Soil Sample FAQ Series, Part Four:
Professional Soil Testing Long Term
In Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of PPLM’s Soil Sample FAQ Series, we have learned much about professional soil testing. We’ve explored the proper way to pull a soil sample, where and how to get a soil analysis performed, how to interpret a soil analysis report, and what corrective treatments are and why they’re recommended by a turf management professional to fix the problems revealed by a soil analysis. Professional soil testing is a great way to identify significant deficiencies in soil nutrition that can inhibit the successful development of a healthy lawn, and a professional applicator can use this data to customize a fertilization program with targeted corrective treatments.
In Part One of this series, we learned that having a soil sample taken is like having blood drawn at the doctor’s office. With Part Two, we discussed how a lawn soil analysis report is like the bloodwork results that the doctor uses to identify why a patient feels sick. Part Three further explored how recommended corrective fertilization treatments are like the extra strength medicine a doctor may prescribe in addition to a normal multivitamin already being taken.
A corrective fertilizer treatment targets specific issues revealed by professional soil testing to bring about more accelerated improvement in the soil. One common issue seen on a soil analysis report is a low soil pH which is contributed to by external forces and can be corrected with heavier lime treatments. Every soil analysis will yield different results, so it is very normal to see some nutrient levels at an ideal range while others are still inadequate. When a professional lawn care company recommends corrective treatments, the purpose is to serve as client education and an opportunity for improvement, not as an upsell. If corrective treatments from a professional company are not within a homeowner’s budget, there may be DIY alternatives available as well.
A long term PPLM Lawn that has benefited from corrective treatments.
This installment of the PPLM Soil Sample FAQ Series will explore what professional soil testing can look like across several seasons. After following the prescribed treatments a doctor gives based on bloodwork results, the long term prognosis can vary and show different amounts of change on follow up lab tests. Likewise, a soil analysis performed after a year of corrective treatments and the lawn from which the sample is taken can see varying degrees of improvement based on what the original problem was, how much progress needed to be made, and what other factors are contributing to the insufficient levels.
This installment of the PPLM Soil Sample FAQ Series will take a closer look at what can be done when a lawn soil analysis shows deficiencies in the quality or composition of a yard’s soil. Getting blood drawn and having a doctor interpret bloodwork results lends a patient and their physician knowledge, but the best use of this knowledge is to make recommendations for treatments that will help correct the problems revealed. Likewise, a professional applicator will make recommendations for corrective lawn treatments to address flaws in the soil that are keeping a lawn from achieving its best possible health.
Should I see Improvement in my Professional Soil Testing results each year?
Professional soil testing is a very complex and variable science that is complicated by many uncontrollable forces season to season such as weather, construction, run off, and more. It is very common to see big improvements in the data one year and little to no improvement the next for a variety of reasons. This makes it difficult for a professional to anticipate how much change to expect based on whether or not corrective treatments are performed.
Additionally, measured improvement in professional soil testing results will vary based on the pieces of data being tracked. The progression of a low soil pH to a more desirable level will generally move at a slower rate than some straightforward nutrient levels. This is because mineral soils have a strong buffering capacity, or a resistance to pH changes.
A Lawn that saw great Improvement after a season of Heavy Corrective Treatments and a Successful Aeration and Seeding in the Fall
While overall a professional applicator will expect and hope to see some measurable progress year to year on a soil analysis if corrective treatments have been done, it may not always happen. However, just because little to no data changes have been made doesn’t mean that it’s a bad sign for a lawn. A common cause of insignificant data changes can be the increased population and vigor of turf causing for more rapid absorption of nutrients being put down. This will reduce the amount of improvement seen on a soil analysis, but ends up meaning that the lawn is much healthier. Long term clients of a professional fertilizer company like PPLM will give greater consideration to not just the professional soil testing results but also to the appearance and health of the turf itself to discern if progress is being made under the radar.
I had Corrective Lime treatments done last season after the Professional Soil Testing showed a low pH. Why is this years’s soil analysis showing that the pH hasn’t improved?
As is mentioned above, while soil acidity revealed by professional soil testing is a relatively straightforward issue to correct, this can also be a fairly slow process due to the way in which the product used to neutralize soil reacts with the soil’s existing mineral components. This neutralizing product is called lime, which is an inorganic mineral that is calcium based and alkaline, or high in pH. Corrective treatments for low soil pH almost always involve putting down additional or heavier lime applications than those performed as part of a maintenance program.
Soil pH is measured on a logarithmic scale, so even a 0.1 change is very significant for a process that can take several years. If literally no change has been seen, there could be several reasons. Corrective products with a high pH like lime are applied heavily to counteract soil acidity, but lime can be slow to disperse into the soil and may not fully activate by the time your next soil sample is taken if it’s applied in the fall. Additionally, external factors like decaying leaves, tree roots, fertilizer, and run off all contribute to the acidity of your soil, so it is possible that even the corrective treatments have only stabilized that acidic input rather than fully reversing it yet.
A Lawn that has received PPLM treatments and stands out Greatly against its neighboring yards!!!!
No matter the cause, it is very normal for corrective lime treatments as well as other corrective fertilization treatments to take more than one season to fully reverse the diagnosed deficiencies. Again, even a 0.1 change is significant on a pH scale, and the most important thing is seeing progress in how the lawn looks overall. A professional applicator will always evaluate the overall trend of data from progressive soil testing results, look at the big picture, and make the appropriate recommendations season to season.
Even with the Corrective Treatments, my lawn itself hasn’t improves as much as I was Expecting. What happened?
Just like any other geological force, soil composition is a very slow working process where discernible change is concerned. While some fertilizer products like nitrogen and iron kick in quickly and fade out fast, they’re like the hare in the soil nutrition race; the nutrients being more often corrected like calcium, phosphorus, and potassium are more like the tortoise with their slow and steady pace. It’s very normal for the desired progress of the soil to take several seasons, so that slow pace can reflect in the visible improvement of the lawn as well.
In addition to what is tracked with professional soil testing, there are always other factors like a season’s weather that also directly impact a lawn’s condition. While the strong majority of homeowners working with a professional lawn care company should see some amount of progress season to season as a healthy lawn is being built, corrective treatments are only one part of the puzzle if the lawn is being exposed to fungus, grubs, drought, or other stressors.
The head of PPLM’s Fertilizer Division Brandyn compares soil analysis reports from two different years at a property after corrective treatments we applied. The pH improved by 0.4, but heavy rains that year caused a leaching of soil’s potassium due to its low CECs.
The quality of a lawn is oftentimes a matter of perspective. When making an investment that involves a property’s aesthetic, it’s easy for a homeowner to want overnight success in creating an immaculate lawn. While a high quality fertilizer company considers the whole picture in customizing a fertilizer program to bring the greatest success to a lawn, client patience and understanding is truly a necessity where any natural process is concerned.
Are the Corrective Treatments going to renew next year if I do them this year?
Unlike a continual maintenance fertilizer program, corrective treatments generally apply only to the season that follows the most current professional soil testing service. Corrective treatments should not automatically renew year to year because a follow-up soil analysis is necessary to find out A. whether or not the corrective applications are still necessary and B. what changes to the strength of the recommended corrective applications should be made based on the progress seen in the nutrients being improved upon. If a property’s professional soil testing comes back after corrective treatments were done and shows that some work is still needed to reach the ideal levels of deficient nutrients, a client should always have the option to dial back on the corrective treatments if they wish to see what progress a maintenance program will make instead.
A newer PPLM client whose first Professional Soil Testing is being performed this year.
Well folks, we made it! Thus concludes the PPLM Soil Sample FAQ Series. What other questions about soil and lawn health do you have that we can answer? Professional soil testing and well informed corrective treatments are a great asset in achieving a healthy, happy lawn, but there are plenty of other things that a homeowner or a professional applicator can do to create the ideal growing conditions for turfgrass. PPLM is looking forward to the soil analysis reports we will be receiving this season, and we hope all of our readers have a Picture Perfect day!
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Lawn Care Services That PPLM Provides
● – Tailored and Detailed Fertilization Programs
● – Weed Control
● – Aeration and Overseeding
● – Mosquito Control
● – Fungus Control
● – Grub Control
● – Nutsedge Control
● – Plus More…….
lawn with a fresh design that will have your
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