Your lawn is the gateway to your home. It’s the icing on the cake, if you will. It’s what people see as they first approach your Northern Virginia home.
Your lawn, after all, is your escape after a long day of work and where you hang out with your dog or your kids. It’s a cozy oasis where you get to unwind.
That’s why it sucks when you’re doing all this work to make your lawn great, and it still doesn’t seem to be looking good or performing very well. This can certainly be frustrating when you can’t figure out what’s happening or why.
Well, usually this means you have to look a little deeper to find the problem. And by deeper we mean underneath. A healthy soil is at the heart of your lawn’s success or failure.
While soil challenges can be fixed, it can be more involved than you think. And you want to make sure your lawn care professional is looking at soil as a potential issue, too, and not just ignoring what could be your core problem.
It’s time to fix bad lawn soil with a solid approach. You don’t want your lawn problems to keep happening because you’re neglecting the root of the problem.
Let’s talk about how to improve your lawn soil and lawn soil health in Northern Virginia so you can tackle this common lawn problem.
Why You Should Care About Lawn Soil Health in Northern Virginia
You keep hearing us say healthy soil makes a healthy lawn, but you might be wondering what that really means. And since you really only care about how the part you see – the thick, green part – performs, we understand why this topic can seem confusing.
Soil is really a key part of making your lawn thrive. A healthy soil helps your grass take in nutrients. Good soil will hold moisture but also drain well when you water your lawn. It also allows air flow – and oxygen is important for your lawn, too.
Ideal lawn soil health is also one that is ripe with beneficial microorganisms that help create optimal growing conditions for your lawn.
1. How Do I Know if My Lawn Soil Health is Good? Try a Soil Test.
The best way to find out the current state of your lawn soil health is to conduct a soil test.
This isn’t something you’ll find that every lawn care company in Northern Virginia offers, but it is a part of some local programs, including all of Turf’s Up lawn care programs.
In order to get a lawn care program that targets exactly what your lawn needs, we believe a soil test is necessary. By knowing what’s going on, we don’t have to guess. And the soil in every neighborhood is certainly not the same – even for homes located next door to each other.
Soil can change as well. During construction, for instance, the digging and backfilling can change the soil composition.
2. What Will a Soil Test Show You And How Can it Fix Bad Lawn Soil?
It starts with pH. Your soil should be in a specific pH range to grow healthy grass. The pH is defined as the level of alkalinity or acidity your soil possesses. Higher pH levels are more alkaline, while lower pH levels are more acidic. Northern Virginia soils are naturally more acidic, so it’s common for pH values to be low – maybe between 5 or 6. The ideal pH level for growing a greener, thicker lawn is between 6 and 7.
What’s more, when your soil pH is outside of the ideal range, any efforts you make to help your lawn can fall short. Your soil won’t be able to take in or absorb the fertilizer you apply.
A soil test will tell you exactly what’s going on in your lawn. It’ll show you your current pH level, and then you can take that information and create a plan to improve your soil and get it to the right pH range.
Usually, correcting an acidic soil, for instance, will require lime applications to get your soil to the proper pH. Once you’re there, your lawn will more easily take in fertilizer and nutrients and become healthier.
Additionally, you can get soil amendments to address any other nutrients that show as low in your soil test results, such as phosphorus or potassium. The data is what drives the best decisions for improving soil quality for your lawn.
Adding micronutrients in the form of bionutritional products can also be an option. Turf’s Up provides bionutritional products annually depending on weather conditions.
3. How Lawn Soil Health Impacts Fertilization
In Northern Virginia suburban environments, there’s a tendency for the soil to be lacking in nutrients. It’s certainly not like the forest floor, which is full of rich organic matter from decomposing leaves.
Usually this means your lawn needs some nutrients to thrive since they aren’t getting it from the soil. This is typically done through about five fertilization applications each year.
How to improve lawn soil? A great lawn care company will customize fertilization to your soil test results to address what your soil is lacking.
In Northern Virginia, fertilization applications begin in spring and continue at regular intervals throughout the growing season and into fall. Spring fertilization helps your lawn develop topgrowth, while fall fertilization helps your lawn roots grow.
This consistent nutrition is important to continue to improve your soil and ensure your lawn gets the nutrients it needs.
4. How to Improve Lawn Soil That’s Compacted
Northern Virginia has heavy clay soil. This means it can more easily become compacted.
Why is compacted soil a problem for lawn soil in Northern Virginia? Compacted soil doesn’t let a lot of water, air flow or nutrients penetrate through to lawn roots. This can naturally cause the health of your lawn to decline.
To combat and fix compacted soil, you want to try these essential steps each year.
- Core Aeration. Core aeration is a great service to improve soil quality for your lawn. The process involves using an aerator to pull small ½-inch-diameter soil cores that are roughly 2 to 3 inches in length from your lawn to break up that soil and allow it to breathe. By doing this, you’re allowing oxygen, water, and fertilizer to get down to your lawn roots by reducing soil compaction. Core aeration also helps break up lawn thatch, which occurs as dead organic material builds up on top of the soil. This is good for your lawn health, since thatch can draw insects and other troubles.
- Overseeding. When you have aeration done on your lawn, overseeding at that same time is ideal for lawn soil health. Why? Because the seeds fall into the holes created by aeration, it optimizes seed-to-soil contact, which is best for germination. Overseeding also helps fill in bare spots in your lawn, thickening it up, which helps improve its overall look and helps prevent weeds from sneaking through.
- Topdressing. Not many lawn care providers also offer topdressing with their aeration and overseeding, and it’s a huge lawn soil health improver. To topdress a lawn, we spread compost across it over those aeration holes. This builds a healthy balance in your soil and increases healthy soil microorganisms and improves soil structure. Incoropating organic matter right into your lawn soil can really irmpvoe your soil’s top layer, and you should see its influence in future fertilizer treatments and overall in lawn health.
5. Hire a Lawn Care Service Provider That Cares About Lawn Soil Health
Another way to improve lawn soil health is to hire a lawn care professional that focuses on soil quality as part of its services.
As they help you improve your soil, better looking, thicker, greener grass will result, and you’ll be plagued by fewer issues like weeds and diseases or insects.
To find this kind of partner for your home lawn, make sure the company you hire does soil testing.
We Can Help You Take Care of Your Lawn And Your Soil
Maybe you’ve had a hard time maintaining your lawn and don’t know what’s wrong.
We completely understand. Fixing bad lawn soil and getting a lawn you love can feel like a part-time job – only you don't get paid for.
Let Turf’s Up take on your lawn care needs and give you that greener, lusher backyard experience you want, as well as a healthier soil that makes keeping your lawn healthy even easier. We know Northern Virginia lawns and would love to bring our expertise to your yard.
Ready to learn why Turf’s Up could be your totally awesome choice for lawn care services in Northern Virginia? We’re stoked to learn more about you and help you have the best lawn on the block. Get started today with a free quote. Together, we can prepare a customized plan that is perfect for you and your lawn.