Help: I Can't Get Soil Probe Into Ground!

Learn how improving your soil can lead to a better looking lawn
Post Reply
cjac9chris
Posts: 13
Joined: December 27th, 2020, 12:46 am
Location: North Central San Antonio, TX
Grass Type: St. Augustine
Lawn Size: 1000-3000
Level: Some Experience

Help: I Can't Get Soil Probe Into Ground!

Post by cjac9chris » January 4th, 2021, 12:20 pm

Hi,
I was excited to kick this year off with my first ever soil test.

I ordered this soil probe, got out my measuring tape and a sterilized plastic container plus some latex gloves.

I was able to pull one decent sample after about 6-7 attempts.

The soil is still a little damp from some rains on New Year's Eve and is all sticking together. I tried stomping on the probe and hammering it in but it's barely budging. When I did manage get it in, it seemed to stop after about 4 inches. Not sure what I'm hitting.

Then the soil is so sticky I can't get the damn sample out of it without prying it with a stick at which point it crumbles and mixes with parts outside of the 3-4" sample range.

Is this normal? What am I doing wrong?

Thanks in advance!

Chris
San Antonio, TX

User avatar
andy10917
Posts: 29162
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 10:48 pm
Location: NY (Lower Hudson Valley)
Grass Type: Emblem KBG (Front); Blueberry KBG Monostand (Back)
Lawn Size: 1 acre-2 acre
Level: Advanced

Re: Help: I Can't Get Soil Probe Into Ground!

Post by andy10917 » January 4th, 2021, 9:55 pm

I'm reasonably sold on the fact that you're overthinking this, Chris - and that's leading to overcomplicating the effort...

What's the sterilized container and latex gloves all about? We're dealing in dirt. Much of the fun about lawn and garden work is getting your hands into the dirt. While I have no problem with buying nice soil sampler tools, they will deliver the same results as a $4 transplanter or flower planter. Actually, the transplanter or planter might be better - you could use it to find out what you're hitting at 4" depth.

Image
Image

I've had mine for more than ten years - works fine.

Also, don't worry if you're half an inch too deep or too shallow - it is highly likely nothing will be changed.

Here's what I'd do if I hit the issues you've had - I'd dump some water on the spot I want to use for a sample, wait an hour and then take the sample. Repeat until you have enough samples. Dry it out on some newspaper in the sun and send it to Logan. Done!

User avatar
MorpheusPA
Posts: 16597
Joined: March 5th, 2009, 7:32 pm
Location: Zone 6 (Eastern PA)
Grass Type: Elite KBG
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Advanced

Re: Help: I Can't Get Soil Probe Into Ground!

Post by MorpheusPA » January 4th, 2021, 11:11 pm

Ditto. Except my hand shovel has a lot of rust on it and the handle is wrapped in duct tape from many years of use and breakage.

I guess I should buy a new one. Fortunately, my tetanus shots are up to date.

cjac9chris
Posts: 13
Joined: December 27th, 2020, 12:46 am
Location: North Central San Antonio, TX
Grass Type: St. Augustine
Lawn Size: 1000-3000
Level: Some Experience

Re: Help: I Can't Get Soil Probe Into Ground!

Post by cjac9chris » January 5th, 2021, 12:13 am

If I had a dollar for every time someone called me out on overcomplicating things...

Transplanter it is!

cjac9chris
Posts: 13
Joined: December 27th, 2020, 12:46 am
Location: North Central San Antonio, TX
Grass Type: St. Augustine
Lawn Size: 1000-3000
Level: Some Experience

Re: Help: I Can't Get Soil Probe Into Ground!

Post by cjac9chris » January 6th, 2021, 9:43 pm

Sharpshooter + transplanter worked great! Interesting findings:

The struggling, existing St. Augustine that has received synthetic ferts and pre-emergents was a ghost town. I only saw one earthworm in the process.

The really bad trouble spot that's almost bare had a grub wriggling around in the first inch of soil. Maybe one earthworm there too.

The former bare spot that I put down annual ryegrass, compost, molasses and have only used organic ferts on... teeming with life!!! So many earthworms. And that soil is softer and easier to work too. Something to the organics.


User avatar
MorpheusPA
Posts: 16597
Joined: March 5th, 2009, 7:32 pm
Location: Zone 6 (Eastern PA)
Grass Type: Elite KBG
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Advanced

Re: Help: I Can't Get Soil Probe Into Ground!

Post by MorpheusPA » January 7th, 2021, 1:49 pm

Pre-emergents aren't necessarily a death knell to soils; I use them myself. At the end of the day, they're bacteria food, like anything else. Synthetics, used judiciously, same.

One grub isn't anything to concern yourself with, but kill it.

And yes, "There's something to the organics," he said, chuckling, reflecting on the year he dropped 1,300 pounds per thousand square feet.

If that's a consistent difference over years, you might have wanted to do two separate tests but... If it was just a recent thing, doing one test wasn't at all a problem.

cjac9chris
Posts: 13
Joined: December 27th, 2020, 12:46 am
Location: North Central San Antonio, TX
Grass Type: St. Augustine
Lawn Size: 1000-3000
Level: Some Experience

Re: Help: I Can't Get Soil Probe Into Ground!

Post by cjac9chris » January 10th, 2021, 12:25 am

MorpheusPA wrote:
January 7th, 2021, 1:49 pm
Pre-emergents aren't necessarily a death knell to soils; I use them myself. At the end of the day, they're bacteria food, like anything else. Synthetics, used judiciously, same.
Thanks, Morpheus. That makes sense. I think I'd like to try not using them since it'll be my first year even doing good basic mowing and irrigation practices. And because I'm blown away by the organics (literally 1/8" of compost, 1.5 apps of Milo and a little molasses created an earthworm farm.)

I'll see how I fare and if I'm kicking myself, I'll add in Pre-M's for 2021.
MorpheusPA wrote:
January 7th, 2021, 1:49 pm
One grub isn't anything to concern yourself with, but kill it.

And yes, "There's something to the organics," he said, chuckling, reflecting on the year he dropped 1,300 pounds per thousand square feet.

If that's a consistent difference over years, you might have wanted to do two separate tests but... If it was just a recent thing, doing one test wasn't at all a problem.
I chucked the grub over the fence! He can live out his days eating the grass in the alley.

It's all very recent. In a perfect world the two sections would've been tested separately but I know myself and I'm going to treat the area as "the backyard" during the season. Right now it's the rye section and the St. Augustine section but by this Summer I will have sodded it all with one type of grass (I'm still on the fence between Zoysia and St. Augustine.)

User avatar
MorpheusPA
Posts: 16597
Joined: March 5th, 2009, 7:32 pm
Location: Zone 6 (Eastern PA)
Grass Type: Elite KBG
Lawn Size: 10000-20000
Level: Advanced

Re: Help: I Can't Get Soil Probe Into Ground!

Post by MorpheusPA » January 10th, 2021, 10:22 pm

Don't tie one hand behind your back. If you have a weed problem, by all means, use the pre-emergents! They've taken my P. annua and P. trivialis problems from bad to no big deal. Simple good management has handled everything else, but those two are vicious plants that can attack any lawn.

Re: Zoysia and St. Aug. Well, you're asking the wrong person, but if you do ask me? Zoysia just for general looks, most of the time. Except when not in absolutely full sunlight, where most Zoysia cultivars simply don't flourish....

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest