Soil Testing In Northeast Florida

Why should I do Soil Testing in Northeast Florida?
Soil is a mixture of mostly minerals, organic matter, water, and air. Plants require specific nutrients to thrive. Identifying the soil’s specific composition helps in identifying soil deficiencies and necessary remedies that can aid in avoiding over-fertilization that can result in stormwater run off pollution. Soil testing will also measure pH levels that if too low for instance can cause minerals in the soil not to be available to some plants. Plant varieties prefer varied pH levels and amounts of specific nutrients. Azaleas prefer pH levels below 5.5 whereas pink hydrangeas prefer pH above 6. A soil analysis will provide you with knowledge of your soil composition and help you make decisions that can improve the soil for your lawn and garden.

The golden rule of gardening says, “If you treat your soil well, it will treat your plants well,” according to the United States Department of Agriculture. “Successful gardening depends on good soil. One of the best ways to improve soil fertility is to add organic matter. It helps soil hold important plant nutrients. By adding organic matter to sandy soil, you improve the ability of the soil to retain water. In a clay soil, humus will loosen the soil to make it more crumbly. You can increase the organic matter in your garden by adding compost or applying mulch.”

When should I test my soil?
Soil testing in Northeast Florida can be done anytime of year whereas in northern states it should be done in warm months when the soil is not frozen. By having your soil testing done ahead of the growing season you are better prepared to treat with soil amendments if needed. For example, calcitic lime used to increase pH requires 2-3 months to work completely into the soil. Soil sampling can be done anytime and is often done to identify the cause of problems in the landscape such as plants that aren’t growing properly or dying.

Where can I get my soil analyzed?
The University of Florida Extension Office in Duval County provides free soil pH analysis that takes typically 7-10 business days to get results. Samples should be dry which is best provided to them in paper bag whereas plastic holds moisture. Samples should be gathered from a few different areas of the landscape and dropped off in person at the extension office.
Contact the University of Florida Extension Office in Duval County for more information at (904)255-7450.

​Additionally, there are digital and reagent soil test kits available for purchase online from a variety of sources. The Luster Leaf 1880 Rapitest Electronic 4-Way Soil Analyzer is one inexpensive option that’s widely available. More accurate and sophisticated electronic test kits are available for hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Many of the inexpensive digital and reagent soil test kits although providing a degree of accuracy also provide vague and inaccurate data as a Garden Fundamentals video points out in a comparison of a Rapitest reagent test kit against a laboratory analysis of the same soil sample.

For comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden and landscaping need contact Earth Works of Jacksonville online and at 904-996-0712. Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions.

Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

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