SmartGrow Hair Fiber Mat (10-inch)
"I used it in my potted lemon tree and let me tell you, it accelerated my lemon tree growth - new leaves and fruit" M. Dawood, Layton UT
Which Soil Test is Good for You?
We offer soil test kits that measure different soil conditions. Deciding which test kit to choose depends largely upon what's being grown, the quality desired and whether you are trying to diagnose or solve a problem.
The ability to grow a good lawn depends upon many factors including the condition of the soil, light exposure and the cultural practices (watering, pest control and fertilization). Soils should be tested for phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and soil pH every 3 to 5 years. The Basic Soil Test gives this information and would be the test of choice for routine analysis. For every 2,000 sq. ft., an additional soil sample should be collected and tested to improve the analysis. Choose the Neighborly Soil Test to save 25% off the standard price of three Basic Soil Tests. This is the best way to go when submitting multiple samples
When renovating the lawn with seed, sodding large areas or as problems arise that need diagnosis, the Basic Plus Soil Test can give you helpful information. This test analyses the basic nutrients PLUS evaluates the soil texture (% sand, silt and clay) to classify the soil (i.e. silty loam, clay loam, sandy loam etc) so that you will know how to amend the soil and improve the rooting environment.
Ground cover plants like pachysandra, ivy, euonymous or vinca are durable plants selected for their spreading habit, adaptability to various light conditions and problem-free growth. Essentially, these plants are very low maintenance and less demanding for nutrients. The Basic Soil Test will give adequate information for growing and maintaining ground cover beds.
For testing purposes, you should distinguish between areas planted to annuals and perennials. Perennials gardens are planted with the intent that they will continue to come back each season, provided the plants are hardy in the climate that you live.
The soil test to pick for an annual garden would be the Basic Soil Test. Since annuals are planted each year, there is an opportunity to amend the soil with fertilizers and organic materials every season. At the same time, you can check the soil pH in the spring or fall and adjust it with acidifying or liming materials. Many annuals are "hungry" for fertilizers and with popular flowering types that bloom for long periods, these require more frequent fertilization to maintain good performance. The Basic Soil Test, used every 3 years or so, will keep you on top of any changing conditions.
The perennial garden should be regarded as a little different when it comes to soil testing. Since you intend to plant once and enjoy these plants for many years to come, it pays to find out as much as you can about the soil initially; correct any nutrient deficiencies and amend the soil prior to planting. The test to consider here is the Micronutrient Soil Test. This test measures not only the soil pH and macronutrients like phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium, it also evaluates the secondary and micronutrients like sulfur, iron, manganese, boron, zinc and copper. If this is the first time that perennials are going to be planted or you anticipate putting in hard-to-grow plants, then you might go one step further with the Complete Soil Test. This is everything in the Micronutrient test PLUS soil textural analysis (% sand, silt and clay) to classify your soil and learn what has to be added to increase the soil tilth, porosity, water percolation and air exchange. All these factors can make the difference between moderate and truly productive growth and flowering.
Trees & Shrubs
Getting the soil right prior to planting trees and shrubs is very important, but unfortunately ignored by many. Woody plants are long-term investments - you need the right soil conditions for long-term performance. At the very least, you should run a Basic Soil Test to look at soil pH and the macronutrients like phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Amending the soil prior to planting will pay dividends later on. If you are doing an extensive amount of planting, then move this up to the Basic Plus Soil Test. The textural analysis for % sand, silt and clay will help you determine the overall soil quality. We will tell you what to add in order to make it more ideal for long-term plantings.
For established trees and shrubs, a Basic Soil Test is usually sufficient every 3 to 5 years to understand the soil's nutrient balance and soil pH. Research would suggest that it is not advantageous to stimulate a high degree of growth for established trees and shrubs since it tends to promote a weak-wooded structure and lessen disease and insect resistance.
For needled evergreen trees and acid-soil-loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas and blueberries, you should also consider the Micronutrient Soil Test. This will give you all of the macro, secondary and micronutrients including sulfur, iron, zinc, copper, boron and manganese. Acid-loving plants are most sensitive to the supply of micronutrients and the soil pH that affects the solubility and uptake of micronutrients.
Vegetables & Herbs
Most gardeners are interested not only in growing, but achieving a good level of production from their vegetables and herbs. Resistance to insects and diseases is thought to be a function of the overall plant health. If the soil is deficient in one or more nutrients or is out-of-balance with an overabundance of one or more nutrients that compete with each other for uptake by plant roots, the result could be poor growth and lost yield. The Basic Soil Test provides the base level of information for most vegetable & herb gardeners that continue to plant an established vegetable garden. This test analyses the soil pH, percent organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium levels which are considered the macronutrients - factors most important for crop production. Testing should be repeated every 3 to 5 years in order to continue a balanced program of soil nutrient supply and to adjust the pH. A second soil sample should be collected and tested if the garden area is greater than 2,000 sq. ft. Choose the Neighborly Soil Test to receive 25% off the standard price of three Basic Soil Tests.
If your garden is new, then the test should be upgraded to a Complete Soil Test. This test will give the entire nutrient profile including the macronutrients, secondary and micronutrients like sulfur, iron, zinc, copper, boron and manganese PLUS a soil textural analysis for percent sand, silt and clay to classify your soil and understand what amendments are needed to improve the soil tilth, air and water percolation. It is better to make the investment at the beginning when soil preparation is convenient; than to wait until later when problems arise and you realize that something should have been adjusted or added prior to planting.
For vegetable & herb gardens that are suffering low production or plant dieback, then the Micronutrient Test is the best place to begin understanding what soil factors might contribute to plant stress. Diagnostically, you need to find out what part the soil might play in causing poor plant performance. That does not mean that the soil is the only factor, but it might give some clues and lead to a better solution or help point to a pathogen or insect problem that takes advantage of weakened hosts.
This category takes in both tree fruit like citrus, apples and small fruit including raspberries, grapes, strawberries etc. Since the fertilization practices change with the planting arrangement (rows/blocks or individual plants), and depth/spread of the root system, then the soil sample collection protocols need to reflect this. The soil test of choice for established fruit gardens would be the Micronutrient Test, covering both macro and micronutrients along with soil pH and percent organic matter. Every three years, this test should be repeated. If the fruit garden is just being established for the first time or you are enlarging the fruit garden, consider doing the Complete Soil Test to further understand what amendments to add to increase soil tilth. Since the best time to correct soil structure in a fruit garden is prior to planting instead of after, these tests are considered a good investment towards obtaining higher yields in the long run.
Planting in containers is very popular. Annuals, perennials and tropical plants are combined and placed either outdoors in the summer or retained indoors in sunny places. Fertilization practices change with the soil condition and growth rate which is in turn a function of light levels and shade adaptation. Outdoor plants will take more fertilizer due to higher light levels. The opposite is true of indoor plants. As a common element, most container plants are potted into an organic potting soil containing peat moss, vermiculite, perilite and other materials including sand, charcoal, lime and various soluble or time-release fertilizers. This is not the same soil as you would have outside - it does not contain any mineral rock soil. The tests that need to be run on container potting soils are slightly different, but the results are the same as for plants grown in the ground. The Basic Soil Test is the most helpful test to determine nutrient availability for container plants. But you must identify the soil as a soil potting mix prior to analysis. This information will be critical to the interpretation of test results.