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What's Under Your Soil?

Getting a Soil Test

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To improve your soil, you need to understand what you have in order to apply the right soil amendments. The best way to test your soil is to send a sample to a Cooperative Extension Service (CSREES) (usually located at or affiliated with a state university) or commercial soil laboratory (check out the print or online Yellow Pages under “Laboratories—Testing” for commercial soil-testing labs).  The best time to test soil…

Removing Thatch and Weeds

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The first step to lawn restoration is to remove any thatch buildup.  Thatch is un-decomposed stems and roots that accumulate near the soil surface.  Dig up a small, triangular-shaped plug of turf several inches deep.  If the spongy layer above the soil is more than ¾- to 1-inch thick when you compress it, it is time to have your lawn dethatched.  The best time to dethatch is when your lawn…

Testing for insects

Testing for Insects

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In addition to the time-honored method of parting the grass and looking around, the following techniques will expose damaging insects in your lawn. Soap Drench: Use to flush out sod webworms, armyworms, mole crickets, and caterpillars.  Mix 5- to 6-tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in a 2-gallon sprinkling can full of water, and drench 4-square feet of lawn with the solution.  Observe the area for three minutes, counting the number of…