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University of Minnesota Extension

Managing soil and nutrients

How to manage soil and nutrients in home yards and gardens

The nutrients in your soil are what feed your plants and can determine whether you have a healthy lawn, flourishing trees and bumper crop of zucchini.

Before starting any yard or garden project, we recommend having your soil tested by the University of Minnesota Soil Testing Lab. They will let you know if your soil needs added nutrients depending on what you want to plant.

Try the diagnostic tool What's wrong with my plant? for a step-by-step guide through diagnosing a plant problem.

Water wisely — Start in your own backyard with smart watering tips for healthy lawns, gardens, trees and shrubs.

Composting and mulching (2000; PDF) — This guide explains the processes of composting and mulching. It gives instructions for building and maintaining a compost pile and for using compost in yards and gardens.

Soil Test Interpretations and Fertilizer Management (2008; PDF) —  This bulletin presents current fertilizer and lime recommendations for home lawns, vegetable and flower gardens, small fruits, tree fruits and ornamental trees and shrubs.

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