Know your soil

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A healthy lawn starts with healthy soil. The type of soil you have will affect the rate at which it absorbs water, and therefore will help determine how long to run your sprinkler. Plants grow best in a well-draining soil with high water holding capacity.

What soil texture do you have?

  • SANDY SOIL Gritty, doesn't easily stick together when wet. Drains quickly.
  • CLAY SOIL Smooth and sticky. Drains slowly.

Heavy soils, like clay, can be loosened with organic matter (like compost and kitchen scraps) or topsoil. This increases your soil's pore space and water-holding capacity. Using an aerator decreases compaction and can help increase air and water flow. To dig in and learn more about your soil check out the Improving Soil Quality Leaflet.

Incorporate organic matter

Adding organic matter effectively improves soil quality. It can be incorporated into the soil or spread on the soil surface. Organic matter supplies plant nutrients, improves soil structure and aeration and increases water and nutrient holding capacity, as well as decomposition. Types of organic matter include:

  • Leaves
  • Lawn clippings
  • Vegetable food scraps
  • Straw
  • Twigs and chipped branches

You can also use these organic materials to start your own compost bin. Click here to learn more about composting. 

Test your soil

OSU Soil Testing Laboratory can help you determine your soil's nutrient levels and offer recommendations on how to increase its health. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Office can provide you with further information.

2500 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
Phone405-713-1125
Fax: 405-947-1199

Protect your soil surface

Add mulch to flower beds and over bare soil around trees to protect the soil and prevent erosion.  Mulch provides the following benefits:

  • Prevents soil splash
  • Regulates soil temperature
  • Prevents weeds from germinating
  • Provides a home for beneficial organisms 
  • Increases soil tilth (suitability to support plant growth) as it decomposes
  • Reduces soil moisture loss so you can water less