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.
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.
- existing grass – sample 0-3″
- new grass – sample 0-6″
- gardens – sample 0-6″
- trees/shrubs – sample 0-12″
- 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 own 4-character sample identification (4 characters - numbers or letters). Keep a record for yourself of the area represented by the sample.