January is a great month to take stock of our lives and set goals for the year.

It’s also a great time to examine your soil’s makeup and take steps to make sure you have a beautiful garden and lawn in 2015!

Whether or not you are a beginner or well-seasoned gardener, follow these steps to find out if your soil needs a boost this year:

Step 1: Do a Visual Inspectiondreamstime_xxl_30351667

You can tell a lot about soil just by looking at it. For example, soil that is supporting healthy vegetation (whether it’s your lawn or a patch of weeds) is probably fairly healthy. On the other hand, if there isn’t much growing in your soil, or if what is growing has shriveling and brown leaves, then it’s going to need some boosting.

Other indicators of your soil’s health include:

  • Earthworms. These critters are vital to your soil’s ecosystem, and are a good sign of soil health.
  • Soil color. Darker soil contains more organic matter, and yellow or gray soil can be a sign of drainage problems.
  • Soil texture. You don’t want your soil to be too sandy or too thick and sticky. A happy medium between the two is ideal.

Step 2: Check Water Drainage

Your garden or lawn needs adequate water drainage to thrive. Check for any areas where water pools after heavy rainfall. To test your soil’s drainage more accurately, follow these instructions from Cornell University’s Dept. of Horticulture:

  1. Dig a hole in the soil about one foot deep and fill it with water
  2. Let it drain and immediately refill it with water again. Measure the depth with a ruler
  3. After 15 minutes, measure the water again
  4. Multiply the difference by 4

The number you come up with is your “drainage per hour.” It should be between 1 and 6 inches per hour to be considered proper drainage.

Step 3: Test Your Soil

Your soil’s pH level and nutrient makeup need to be well balanced for your garden or lawn to thrive. There are two ways you can test your soil: by purchasing a do-it-yourself kit, or by hiring a gardening or lawn professional to do it for you.

You can find a do-it-yourself kit at your local garden center. Of course, you can also contact your local WeedPro specialist for a free lawn analysis in 2015!