Soil Quality Restoration

Mike Terukina is passionate about Soil Quality Restoration (SQR). As Quality Care’s branch manager, he has seen brown, patchy, lifeless lawns restored to green, healthy, and lush turf thanks to this program. “It’s one of the most beneficial things you can do for your lawn,” he says. And the added bonus is that it’s great for the environment. So great, in fact, that many Iowa municipalities will help homeowners pay for it.


Healthy grass plants must have sunlight, water and food, and nutritive soil to sink their roots into. SQR is the process that ensures the soil is of the highest quality. In the early spring or late fall, Quality Care’s lawn health care professionals will perform a two-step process:

step 1

First, the team will aerate the yard with a deeper-than-usual aeration. “Deep-tine aeration goes down into the ground four inches,” Mike says. Any time you aerate your lawn, you’re making it healthier. It loosens up the compacted clay soil and creates open channels for hydration and nutrients to flow. The deep-tine aeration of SQR however goes even deeper to prepare for the second SQR step.

step 2

Step two is a top-dressing of 100-percent organic compost. “It’s deep, dark, and rich,” Mike says. The slightly stinky mixture, which is sourced from an Iowa compost company, is spread liberally across your lawn, and over the next week or two it sinks into the aeration holes to amend and improve the soil underneath.

“It’s not going to be pretty for a couple of weeks, but as it breaks down, that’s when the magic happens,” Mike says. “And you’ll see the benefits for several years. We have some customers who get a treatment every other year. They’re very passionate about it.

“For people who have junk soil, there’s no way to change it unless you dig several feet into the ground and start again,” Mike says. “SQR is a way to help from the top.”


Many homeowners, particularly in newer developments where the topsoil has been stripped from the land during the construction process, have low-quality soil. Your grass may look okay initially, but it gradually turns brown and patchy, gets boggy and won’t drain after a rain, or seems to be endlessly thirsty. This is because the clay-heavy soil left behind isn’t supportive of grass plants. “Roots are trying to grow deeper so the grass plants can establish themselves, but they just can’t penetrate the dense clay,” Mike says. “There’s no way water can penetrate either.” If you have puddles that form in your yard after a rain, that’s a sign of clay soil. It can hinder growth in older residential lawns and commercial properties as well.

Municipalities love SQR because it means stormwater won’t run off into the city storm sewers. Instead, rain stays in naturally draining, receptive lawns. “It’s a mutual benefit with homeowners getting healthier lawns and cities getting help with storm water retention,” he says.

Michael Terukina headshot

“To handle the curve balls Mother Nature is throwing at us, you can’t just focus on plants,” Mike says. “You have to have good soil.”


Quality Care has been amending soil since the company started 40 years ago. “We’ve always done aeration and top-dressing,” Mike says. The state of Iowa realized how helpful residential and commercial SQR could be to its overall water conservation and stormwater maintenance efforts, and now it allows municipalities across the state to provide grants. They can differ slightly from community to community, but often the grant will cover half the cost of a soil quality restoration service up to $2,000.

As a registered vendor with public works departments in Eastern Iowa, such as Iowa City, Quality Care’s lawn health care team can meet with you to make an assessment, then connect you with the cost-share program in your area.

For an average size yard, the cost is between $1,000 and $2,000. “I want to be transparent, it’s not one of the cheapest services you can do to your lawn, but it’s one of the best,” Mike says. “Considering what you get back form the city, it makes it that much better.”


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