Symptoms of Sick Soil: As Indicated by the Lawn

Bare Patches – it is really serious if nothing will grow

Shallow Root System – anything less than 6 inches.

Compacted Soil – soil probe penetration less than 6 inches.

Puddling – water quickly runs off or pools in low areas rather than soaking into the soil.

Disease Prone – annual out-breaks of diseases either the same disease during the same time period each year or different diseases through the season. Also related to problems with thatch accumulation.
Insect Infestations – like diseases, insect problems are often related to thatch, but can also indicate low availability of secondary nutrients in the soil.
Thatch – dead grass stems, blades and roots that are not being reduced (decomposed) into organic matter, but accumulating on top of the soil and creating conditions that favor disease and insect problems, as well as restricting moisture from getting into the soil.

Weeds – particularly if there is a wide variety of weed types.

Symptoms of Sick Soil: As Indicated by Trees & Shrubs

All symptoms indicated by the lawn - except those dealing with weeds and thatch.
Poor Color - Chlorosis and other nutrient deficiencies are easy to spot.
Small leaf size.
Seeds, Fruit and Blossoms - may be few in number, small in size, blossom colors may be faded and fruit may be lacking in taste.
Decline - overall health, vigor and size.

Learn how to test your soil: Turf | Non-Turf

It is also important to know that all soil tests are not the same. A more complete soil test produces additional information that can assist in solving problems with turf, produce and flowering plants.

Learn more about the difference between various types of soil testing.