Get your soil tested, don’t P in the lake.

There are 200 lawn soil sample coupons available. For just $5, any lawn owner in the Grand Lake St. Marys or Wabash River Watersheds can have their lawn soil tested. This is a $10 savings from the typical $15+ fee. Testing of the soils is funded by Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance, Lake Improvement Association and Helena Agronomic Center, Coldwater.

Collecting a soil sample prior to applying lawn fertilizer will determine the actual fertilizer needs of your lawn. The amount of Phosporous (P) in fertilizer is designated by the middle number of a fertilizer. Proper lawn fertilization techniques play an important role in preventing polluted surface runoff from entering nearby streams, Grand Lake St. Marys and the Wabash River.

If you are interested in learning more about the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed, keep your eyes open for the “Grand Again” campaign. This will focus on several different topics starting with lawn care. The campaign will continue through 2012. For more information contact the Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance.

Equipment needed to take a soil sample: clean plastic bucket, soil probe and quart-sized plastic or paper bag Follow these steps to properly collect a lawn soil sample (recommended method):
Step 1: Label bags appropriately.
Step 2: Walking in a zig-zag pattern, use the soil probe to take ten sub-samples and place them in the plastic bucket.
Step 3: Samples should be taken 3-4 inches deep. Remove any foreign material on the surface prior to using the soil probe.
Step 4: Mix sub-samples thoroughly and place the correct amount of soil (according to your laboratory) into the bags.
Step 5: Take labeled bags and other required materials to your laboratory.

Fertilizers have a series of three numbers on the label. These numbers represent the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. There is currently no soil test available for nitrogen, but it is the most important ingredient for keeping your lawn green.
Interpreting soil test results:
Acceptable levels:
pH … 6.3 to 7.0
Phosphorus (P) lb/acre… 50 to 75
Potassium (K) lb/acre… 200 to 250
Calcium (Ca) lb/acre…. 800 to 16,000
Magnesium (Mg) lb/acre… 150 to 2,000
*If level is below the range, correction is needed.
*If level is between or above the range, no correction is needed.
Tip: To convert parts per million (ppm) to lb/acre, multiply ppm by 2