soil testing(follow up to question 287321)

Asked November 2, 2015, 9:48 AM EST

Hello again. You helpfully suggested soil testing in answer to my question number 287321. Thanks very much. I'll plant the grass seed this coming spring; do you advise that I wait until early spring to have the soil tested? Or may I go ahead and submit a sample now so that I'm all ready when spring arrives? I'd like to get the soil tested now if I can but would appreciate your advice. Thanks very much!

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

Get it tested now. You may need to apply lime. Lime takes many months to change soil pH, and will need to work down into the soil naturally (by precipitation and soil organisms) if you are not planning to rototill the area. Even so, the lime will not penetrate more than a few inches on its own. Lime can be applied any time the soil is not frozen.

The fertilizer can be applied up to November 15th. No fertilizer application is allowed in Maryland between Nov. 15 and March 1st (because of the danger of run-off into waterways).

Please read over our fertilizer recommendations for lawns in our website fact sheet, Lawn Establishment, Renovation and Overseeding:


HI, again. Now that spring is almost here, I want to be sure I'm on track for some lawn rehab. I had my soil tested by U Delaware, plus I visited Turf Center (Southern States dealer in Spencerville) to get a game plan. U Delaware said wait until this fall (2016) to apply limestone plus turf type fertilizer with no P. Southern States mentioned planting tall fescue in the spring (2016). I"d like to get started by I want to do this right not overperform/overfertilize/overcorrect. Do you advise wait until fall 2016 for lime + fertilizer + tall fescue? Seems like fall is a better planting time but if it was possible, I'd get started now.

In addition, kindly see the two attached pictures. The first is of existing grass that I think is reseeding itself. True? Magnify the image and look at 8 o'clock/lower left of red berry for possible seeds. Second picture is of a weed that seems very happy in the bare spots(quarter included for scale). I can keep pulling them out if herbicide would basically kill any grass seed germination attempts. Happy to get your advice as I start to implement my lawn rehab plans! I can send you the U Del analysis if that would help.

Hopefully, you have read the publication referred to last fall (HG102). There is also a 'calendar of lawn events' available on our website:
You will note that it is quite acceptable to seed bare spots in March, but you should be prepared to perform your major renovation in early September.
Also, if you wish, you can apply limestone now, but, limit your application to no more than 40 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. If more is needed, apply subsequent applications in the fall.