Whether you want to have the lush green lawn, vibrant flower and vegetable beds or happy productive fruit trees now, is the time to think about the soil they are growing in and maybe make a plan to increase your success this coming spring.  

Soil testing can tell us so much about the most basic of needs to accomplish these goals and also protect the environment by preventing over-application.

The Oklahoma County OSU Extension Center can help you improve your lawn and garden through its soil sampling program. It is relatively easy to gather a sample if you follow a few simple steps.  Soil sampling will give you accurate results of your pH as well as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels. These are key components that need to be balanced to give your lawn and gardens a sound starting point. 

Nitrogen is fuel for growth like healthy food in a human diet, the kind that comes from eating a well-balanced meal of greens, whole grains, fresh fruit and protein. In the plant world we want our Nitrogen levels high enough to meet the growing needs of the lawn or garden. By testing for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and receiving results on what your own soil currently has available, you will be well armed to find fertilizers that fill in the gap of missing elements for fertile soil. Fertilizers come in all variations and there is not a good practice to add additional fertilizer so testing for what is balanced and not in your own soil will save you time and money.  

The ideal pH level for most plants is 6.5 to 6.8. Higher pH would be high alkaline soil with the low end indicating too much acid for optimal growth. In general, many plants cannot absorb nutrients well if soil pH is very far out of this range.  

The best way to get a good sample is easy and does not take much time. First, dig down to a depth of 6 inches and take several samples in the general area, like a back yard or garden, which you are interested in having tested. You should take 12 to 15 different samples in this collection. Mix these samples together in a clean bucket and bring in about 2 cups of your mix to the OSU Extension Office. If you have any area that is a particular problem, be sure to bring that separately.

Bring your sample to the Oklahoma County Extension Office located at 2500 NE 63 in Oklahoma City. The samples will be sent to OSU for soil testing and you should have results and recommendations for soil amendments within two weeks. The cost for each sample is $10. For more information contact the Oklahoma County Extension Service at 405-713-1125.

Soil testing can be a great place to start before we kick off an always awaited spring growing season.