Soil testing talk across the DIY community is picking up traction again here in the fall. Many of you have worked hard all spring and summer to improve your lawn and as we move into the fall time you're looking to get even better heading into the next season and a soil test is your next logical step.
(Here is a FREE Guide on reading and interpreting your soil test)
When Is The Best Time To Soil Test Your Lawn?
You can actually test your soil at anytime during the year. If you can pull cores of soil or dig down and get the soil sitting 3-4" beneath then you can get it tested. It doesn't matter if the soil is 95 degrees when you obtain it or 39 degrees. It can be dry or wet, soft or hard. All that matters is that you can get to it and put it into the test cup. BUT DON'T TEST YET!
The one thing that you need to consider before testing your soil is what and when you applied to your lawn most recently. Fertilizers that have not fully broken down can contaminate your sample and throw off your results.
This is why I DO RECOMMEND that you wait at least 45 days after your previous fertilizer applications before you pull soil and test. Fall is actually a great time for this based on the strategies I teach. Let me break it down for you.
Cool Season Lawns - Soil Testing in Fall
For cool season folks, when you follow my plan that I lay out for you in the app, it's going to recommend you apply 24-0-6 Flagship Fertilizer about every 4-5 weeks until soil temps vall below 55. At that point, the next application you apply will be your winterizer and that is going to be sometime just before the ground freezes.
Essentially, the "winterizer" is an application you apply very very late in the season and it works for you during the coming spring. For the majority of you, I am going to recommend you sample your soil just before the winterizer.
This is probably going to be 45 days or so after your previous app. If you you have my free app, it will tell you when to do this.
If you don't have the app, just do an application of Flagship sometime around the middle of October and then that way you can do your winterizer around Thanksgiving (45 days later). You would want to test your soil right before you apply this final application on Thanksgiving. Make sense?
Warm Season Lawns - Soil Testing in Fall
For us warm season folks, things are a little easier because we don't have to worry about snow coming in and spoiling our plans. For warm season turf, I typically recommend you go away from higher nitrogen and push more potassium from fall into winter. The 7-0-20 Stress Blend is the go-to in fall for Bermuda, Zoysia, St Augustine, centipede and bahia grasses.
So for you, just pick some time between now and December and create a 45 day gap. You can still apply bio-stimulants RGS Root Growth Stimulant and Humic12 anytime you want but lay off the Stress Blend, MicroGreene and Air8 for a 45 day period before you test. (Air8 has an 0-0-5 analysis, FIY)
45 Days Minimum - FREE GUIDE
So that's really all there is to it - fall is a great time to test your soil, just ensure you have not applied fertilizer to the lawn for at least 45 days prior. Going even longer is fine too and remember, there is a completely FREE guide I wrote that talks even more about setting up a strategy for your lawn based on the results of a soil test. you can download that here.