February 13, 2016

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How to Sample- Homeowners (lawn/garden)

Soil tests can be no better than the sample. Therefore, proper collection of the soil sample is extremely important. To obtain a good soil sample, follow the directions below.


Soil samples may be taken at any time during the year when soil conditions permit. It usually takes the Laboratory three to five days to process your samples.


If the area is fairly level and the soil appears to be uniform, collect a composite (mixed) sample.

If your lawn or garden has large areas which differ in fertility, take one sample from each area. For example, you may want to sample the front lawn and the back lawn separately (see diagram below).

Do not include soil from the lawn area and a garden in the same composite sample. Sample separately or avoid trouble spots or small areas such as borders, low spots, near trees or buildings, etc.


Use a garden trowel, spade, sampling tube, or soil auger. Scrape away or discard any surface mat of grass or litter. Sample the lawn or garden area to the sampling depth indicated below.

  1. existing grass – sample 0-3″
  2. new grass – sample 0-6″
  3. gardens – sample 0-6″
  4. trees/shrubs – sample 0-12″
  5. lead test – sample only surface 3/4″

Place the soil sample in a clean bucket or pan. Repeat sampling in five (5) scattered spots within the chosen area. Mix soil well to make a composite sample and send in about a pint of the sample to the Laboratory. Any clean and spill-proof container may be used.

Label the sample container with your name, address, and YOUR sample identification (FOUR digits). Keep a record for yourself of the area represented by the sample.


How to Submit:

Download/Print the Soil Sample Information Sheet

Fill out the information sheet as completely as possible so that accurate recommendations can be given. Keep a copy for your records. Place the sample in a tightly sealed container or bag (e.g. a clean disposable food container or bag). If you have trouble printing the form, send us an email to request a printed form.  See “About Us” for contact information.


For the regular test (which includes P, K, pH and organic matter);

$17 per sample for lawn and garden samples

Prices for testing are also listed on the Information Sheets. Enclose a check payable to the University of Minnesota for all services requested. Do not send cash. The University of Minnesota will not be responsible for cash sent through the mail. The sender pays the postage.

Sending Soil Samples


  • Mailing

Enclose the information sheet along with a check made out to the University of Minnesota and mail to:

Soil Testing Laboratory
University of Minnsota
1902 Dudley Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108

  • Delivery

The sample can also be brought to the laboratory. Fill out the information sheet along with a check made out to the University of Minnesota and bring to:

Room 135 Crops Research Building
University of Minnesota
St. Paul Campus

(See About Us page for directions)

See also: