Tag Archives: soil samples

How to Sample Soil

Why We Take Soil Samples (And You Should Too)

When it comes to landscape installation or building gardens, we always take a soil sample. Plants have varying needs and will respond differently to particular types of soil. Soil sampling is important to determine soil texture, pH level, and the soil nutrients in order to grow the proper trees, shrubs, and turf.

A soil test can provide information on the proper amount of lime and fertilizer to apply to your lawn, garden and other areas of your landscape. When gardeners apply the amount of fertilizer that is necessary (and at the appropriate time) nutrient runoff into surface and ground water is minimal, therefore money is saved while plant health is optimized. It’s a win-win!

If you want the most successful plant growth in your garden or landscape, we suggest you take a soil sample, or have a licensed landscaper take it for you. Always take the sample at approximately the same time of the year, but collect samples 3-6 months before planting.

The reliability of the soil test is no better than the sample you submit. For results you can
depend on, it is vitally important that you take samples correctly.

Here are the steps to properly take a soil sample:

1. Source the Equipment: It is important to have the proper tools for soil sampling. Wear gloves to protect your hands, then grab a soil knife or soil probe, and a clean bucket to gather up the soil.

2. Decide on Location: Determine where in your lawn would give the best general understanding of your soil profile. For example, don’t take soil samples under rain spouts or gutters. You may have a property that requires several soil samples, as soil may vary in depth, texture, and quality, even from one location to another. For example, a soil brought to a building site for grading and backfilling around a structure will differ from the native soil. Decide carefully if you may have varying soil types, and be prepared to test multiple areas.

3. Determine Depth of Soil Sample: For trees and shrubs, you’ll want to sample 4 to 6″ deep. In turf areas, sample 4″ deep. The depth of sampling should be from 6 to 8″ in all soil except sandy soil, where cores should be 10-12″ deep. Take a 1-2 pint composite sample from the cores. Next you will mix and package…

4. Mix Soil: Stop here! If you are using a home test kit, read their specific instructions first before mixing or packaging soil. If you are shipping off to a lab, you would mix all of your soil samples into a bucket so that you can get a general understanding of the soil profile. Remove any organic matter, such as  leaves and sticks from the sample.

5. Send Soil to The Lab or Test At Home: Here’s a list of 10 Best Soil Test Kits. Companies like SS Delta will test soil for you, if you prefer to ship soil into a lab. Visit their website to learn more.

Once you receive the results, you’ll be able to determine lime requirements for addressing pH issues, as well as fertilizer and irrigation needs, which will help you successfully grow trees, shrubs, and other plants on your lawn. Good luck and get sampling!