What Is a Soil Test & Why Does Your Sykesville Area Lawn Need One?

picture of grass with a house in the background

When was the last time you had your soil tested? Did you know that if you apply or have fertilizer professionally applied that contains any trace of phosphorous to your Maryland property, you must have your soil tested every three years? Called Maryland’s Fertilizer Law, anyone applying fertilizer containing phosphorous must be certified by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. One single fertilizer application may not exceed 0.9 pounds total nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. This cannot include more than .07 rounds of soluble nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

Is all of this making your head spin? Never fear! Your friends at American Lawn and Tree Specialists understand the different requirements we have in our state and are Department of Agriculture certified. Today, we will try and break the information down into simpler terms and explain what a soil test is, why they are important and how you can go about scheduling yours.

What Is a Soil Test?

A soil analysis is a detailed report of your soil’s composition. While you can buy inexpensive soil test kits at most home goods and garden stores, a licensed professional such as American Lawn and Tree Specialists will come out and take 10-15 small samples from various parts of your yard. We will then combine the results and deliver you a report. Things your report can tell you include:

  • Which nutrients your lawn lacks or has in abundance
  • Which nutrients are low
  • The pH level of your soil
  • The presence of any pollutants or contaminants

Why Is Having a Soil Test So Beneficial to Your Sykesville Area Lawn?

Provide Nutrients Without Over Fertilizing

A sample of your yard’s soil will allow your lawn care professionals to know if supplemental phosphorous, potassium, or limestone is needed. Phosphorous helps with cell development, potassium helps with root development and stress recovery, and limestone raises the soil’s pH level. This way, we can make sure to provide your grass with the appropriate amount of each without under or overdoing it. Over-fertilizing can lead to burned-out roots, uneven growth, and brown patches. Avoiding over-fertilizing also helps keep excess nitrogen and phosphorous out of Maryland’s groundwater and surface waters.

Know Your Soil’s pH Level

When your soil’s pH level is out of balance, it won’t receive the nutrients your fertilizer provides anyway. What is the pH level? It is the measurement of how acidic or alkaline your soil is. Why is this important? Because when your soil’s pH levels are below 5.5, your lawn won’t grow well. Soil pH balance is measured on a scale from one to 14, with seven considered neutral. Measurements below seven are considered acidic or “sour,” while any number above seven is alkaline or” sweet.” Most plants, including both the cool and warm-season grasses we use here in Sykesville, prefer neutral soil with a pH balance between 6.2 and 7.2. If a soil test indicates that your soil is overly acidic, we can apply a lime treatment to help raise the pH level.


Lastly, having a soil test done will alert you to any contaminants that should not be there. If something harmful or unwelcome is lurking on your property, you and your lawn care professional can discuss having it removed.

Why Is Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law in Place?

Maryland’s Fertilizer Law took effect in October of 2013 as a collaborative effort to protect the Chesapeake Bay and other local waterways from receiving excess runoff. Because the primary nutrients in fertilizer, nitrogen and phosphorous, are the key ingredients in lawn fertilizer, it washes up onto nearby storm drains and streams that run into the bay. Once in the waterways, studies show it contributes to the growth of algae blooms. Having the fertilizer law in place helps ensure the amounts of phosphorous that end up in the bay and our waterways.

Get a FREE Quote

Contact Info
By submitting this form, you are agreeing to the privacy policy.