Having your lawn and garden soils tested for pH and nutrient values is the best way to create a plan for correcting nutrient levels in the soil. The easiest way to correct the nutrient level in a lawn is by making alterations prior to seeding. Create a long-term maintenance plan that includes having the soil tested every two to three years to make adjustments based on the current nutrient changes being implemented.
Contact your county university extension office for a soil test kit. The soil test will give detailed information on the soil nutrient deficiencies and recommended alterations.
Collect soil samples and submit the test kit and paperwork to the testing facility. Submit separate sample kits for each area of the yard. A lawn should be tested separately from a garden bed. Provide separate test kits for a front and back lawn because the nutrient values might differ.
Review the soil test results and create a plan to make alterations to the nutrient values in the soil.
Apply limestone to soil that has an acidic pH of less than 6.0. Lime will burn grass, so take caution when adding it directly to a seeded area. Apply ground rock sulfur to soil that has an alkaline pH of more than 7.5. Water the soil well after application to increase the absorption rate. Wait two weeks to plant after application of limestone or sulfur.
Apply fertilizer to the soil based on the test results. The test results will list whether the soil is low in phosphorus or potassium, which requires applying a fertilizer high in these nutrients. Water the soil well after applying fertilizer to increase the absorption rate.
Work organic compost into a soil that tests as being low in organic matter. Sandy or clay soil can be altered for better growing when organic compost is worked into the soil at a depth of 12 inches or more with a tiller.