Phosphorus – Soil Testing

Q: Our garden center is no longer carrying any basic fertilizer with phosphorus. They have 10-0-10 etc. Their explanation is that it’s more friendly to the environment. What is your take on this?

A: I think the phosphorus pollution in Florida waters has affected fertilizer manufacturers in the Southeast. Our neighbor to the south has naturally high phosphorus levels in the soil. In addition, Florida has plenty of cattle operations, agricultural lands and lawn owners applying fertilizer indiscriminately.

The result is lots of phosphorus in streams and lakes. There, this plant nutrient makes algae grow rapidly, which degrades the waterways.

Phosphorus levels are generally in the medium to high range in metro Atlanta soils, so adding more doesn’t do much for plants. If your lawn has the proper pH of 6.0 – 6.5, grass plants can extract all of the phosphorus they need.

The only way to know your soil pH level is to get a soil test done. Details at


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