Lawn Soil PH Test?

Asked October 4, 2019, 1:34 PM EDT

I am having a problem with brown patches in my lawn. This year is particularly a problem because of drought conditions. The property is high with elevation drops--some sharp, but most reasonably gentle. Most years are manageable because of ample rainfall. However, even in good years I develop areas of brown patches. I treat for grub every year or two, but don't think that is the problem. I feel it is more drainage to the properties below me. I have been seeding in the spring and fall these past few years, with mixed results. Some areas are heavy in grass, while other have the brown patch problem. I am wondering if I am having a soil ph problem. Maybe it is time for me to put down lime. Where can I get an accurate soil analysis? What do I need to do to assure providing the proper amount of test soil from different areas of lawn? Is there someone available to view my property and give an expert analysis?

Howard County Maryland brown spots soil test lawn

1 Response

Unfortunately, we are not able to make site visits. We answer questions via this website and photos submitted to this reply.
Brown spots can crop up for a number of reasons such as disease (possible brown patch), dying grass, fertilizer burn, planting grass seed mixtures with perennial rye or other grass species besides tall fescue can all contribute to causing brown spots.
If you have slopes in full sun, the soils drains well but may not hold the moisture and the grass may die out in the hot periods of summer. It can be a challenge to plant grass in Maryland. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/challenge-growing-lawn-maryland

Let us know what type of grass you are seeding and if there is erosion. Turf type tall fescue grows best in full sun to part shade. Fine Fescue grows best in the shade. Hard fescue is the best choice. Here is information on growing grass in the shade as well as best practices for a lawn https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/growing-grass-shade
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/best-practices-lawn-care

We do not recommend treating for grubs unless they are feeding on your turfgrass roots. You would notice this in late summer to early fall. You can pull up the turf like a carpet, there is an obvious lack of roots, and C-shaped grubs will be present in the soil. Grubs do not typically affect turf type tall fescue lawns. Here is more about grubs https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/grubs-lawns

If you have not had your soil tested in the last several years, it is a good idea. Results will give you ph, liming, and nutrient deficiencies but will not tell you why the grass died. Here is more on soil testing. Test the soil in the front, back, and problem areas.
See the video on how to take a soil sample. Choose any lab on the list, visit their website, download their soil test submission form. You can mail your soil sample in any small plastic bag, along with your submission form and payment. Costs vary between $9-$20 per sample test. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing

Marian