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How To Soil Test Lawn

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How To Submit Samples For Analysis

How To Do a Soil Test On Your Lawn – Soil Savvy Test Kit
  • Download, print and fill out the Lawn & Garden Soil Analysis Request Sheet – use one sheet per sample. Include your email address and we will email you the results. The email will arrive from and may enter your spam folder.
  • Follow the instructions for collecting samples on the second page of the PDF and watch the video, above.
  • The sample size should be about 2-3 cups.
  • Place sample in a tightly sealed container or bag .
  • Enclose a check payable to the University of Minnesota for all services requested. The cost is $17 per sample. Do NOT send cash – we cannot be responsible for cash sent through the mail.
  • Send the soil sample, payment, and request sheet to:Soil Testing Laboratory, University of Minnesota135 Crops Research Building
  • How Do I Collect A Soil Sample For Testing

    To get the most accurate results:

    • Collect your soil sample from the area of the soil where the plant roots will grow. About 6 to 8 inches deep is good for most garden plants.
    • Remove any roots, grass or mulch from the sample for the most accurate test result.
    • On a budget? Collect soil from different areas of the garden and mix together into one soil sample. This will give you an overall idea of your garden soils.
    • Trying to problem solve or fine-tune? Collect soil from individual garden areas and test each area separately. Make sure to name your samples and make a map so you can match the results with your garden!

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    When To Test For Soil Ph

    It is a good idea to test the soil whenever you are planting a new garden bed or when growing a new plant variety that may have unique pH needs. Some experts recommend that gardeners test the soil every few years, especially if you have needed to amend the soil in the past. The materials used to adjust soil pH, such as elemental sulfur , or lime will break down over time, and additonal amendment may be required to keep the pH level at optimal levels.

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    How To Properly Take A Soil Sample

    On the day you take the sample, make sure the soil is not too wet from any previous rain or recent heavy watering. It is best to do the sample when you have not recently fertilized. Start with a clean bucket. If the bucket was used for other outdoor use, make sure it is washed thoroughly and dried before use. If it is not cleaned properly, anything that was in the bucket could register in the test.

    Use a shovel, auger drill or any clean tool to dig a small hole 3 to 6 inches deep. If you are using a shovel, once the hole is dug, take a 1 inch slice along the side of the hole from top to bottom. That 1 inch slice is the sample you will use. After collecting the sample, place it into the bucket. If you are using a corer or auger, collect soil from the entire depth of the hole and place it in the bucket.

    If you are concerned about a specific area of the yard where the soil quality may be quite different from other parts, you can test that area separately. It may cost a little more if you are using a lab, but you will get more accurate results.

    Determine Your Type Of Soil

    Soil PH Meter 3

    Your soils texture can determine what types of turf can thrive in your yard. Figure out your soil type by grabbing a fistful of soil and squeezing. The soil in your hand should fit one of these descriptions:

    • Clay: soils with high clay contents should pack together firmly in your hand. Clay-based soil contains large amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesiumnutrients important to a plants health. Other particles in clay soil are unable to absorb nutrients, sometimes making it necessary to supplement your soil with organic mulch.
    • Loam: this soil sticks together at first, but falls apart if prodded. The ideal soil type, loam-type soil is usually higher in nutrients and boasts good airflow and drainage.
    • Sandy: sandy soil does not stick to itself and will fall apart as soon as you loosen your grip. Oxygen easily penetrates sandy soils, preventing plants from forming strong roots. Wetting agents and organic mulches are your best bets for growing non-hardy plants in sandy soils.

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    Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit 40 Tests

    Lowest Price

    Product Details

    Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit 1601 provides simples methods of testing several soil conditions. 40 tests come with this kit allowing you to perform 10 tests each to measure the levels of pH, potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus.

    Easy to follow instructions. Simple, accurate, tests with fast results. The included chart contains levels for NPK and pH for over 100 plants and has instructions included on adjusting fertilization and soil conditions.

    Soil Test Kit
    Additional Information 6 Per case. Innovative and inexpensive soil test kit features an easy-to-use capsule system and color comparators. Contains tests for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels with 40 tests in total. Also has a chart of pH and NPK levels for more than 100 plants. Simple, fast and accurate results: no experience required to perform tests

    Reviews From Real Customers

    Was buying science stuff for homeschool and noticed this. Our garden last year had some issues and we, being new at it all, could only figure out just a couple reasons .

    Getting these tests helped us fill in the rest of the blanks! Added the correct amounts of various fertilizer and nitrogen for the winter garden and our lettuce and arugula grew like crazy! Having these simple tests and the instructions for how to fix and maintain the soil for the specific plants was a garden lifesaver!.

    You have to be very careful to get as much of the powder into the water as possible for an accurate test.

    Does Water Ph Affect Soil Ph

    Soil can be affected by water depending on its texture. Soil particles that are smaller, like clays and clay loams, are more influenced than coarse, sandy soils. Fine-textured soils have a higher number of very small particles called colloids. These colloids are sites where positively charged ions are retained. The ability of soil to retain these ions is called its cation exchange capacity. Ions in the soil solution are exchanged with ions on the colloidal particles. Negative ions in the soil solution have less influence on soil pH. In short, yes, soil can be affected by water pH but it depends on the type and even on how deep the water has managed to penetrate.

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    Faq About Testing Soil For Ph

    Do DIY Soil Test Kits Work?

    DIY soil test kits work, but theyre not always accurate. According to the University of New Hampshire, the most accurate soil tests are from a lab. Here are a few reasons why:Home tests vary in accuracy.Although we homeowners try our best, were not trained scientists, and some inaccuracy can be due to human error.Unlike lab testing, home tests dont typically come with next step recommendations for your lawn.However, lab testing may not be an option for everyone. If that case, you can:Skip the test for now and use a previous years soil recommendation.If this is your first time testing soil, use a home kit, but do some research about soil in your area. If your results are wildly different, you may want to consider retesting or using a different soil test kit.If youre using a home kit, you can use these fact sheets to help guide you:

    Burford holly

    What Will I Find Out From My Soil Sample

    Lawn Soil Test – Fixing and Prepping Spring Soils

    Home Lawn and Garden Soil Test Mailer results will determine your soil type, pH, level of organic matter and provide you with a reading for nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The results will also provide a recommendation for nitrogen and will determine how much lime should be applied based upon the type of plant you specify.

    Soil probe used for taking soil samples. Photo credit: Rebecca Finneran, MSUE

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    When Should I Sample

    Submit samples for planting and gardening projects several weeks before you plan to plant. This will allow plenty of time for you to get the results back and amend the soil before planting.

    Soil samples can be submitted for testing any time of the year. Results are usually ready within a few weeks and are posted online. Winter and spring are the labs busiest seasons. Samples submitted during these times may take longer to process. Check current processing times.

    How To Test The Soil Ph

    At-home test kits vary hugely, so its absolutely critical to follow your chosen tests instructions. The test kits can be as simple as a pH test you used in high school all the way to multiple tests with various chemicals. Be sure to pick up some distilled water because most soil test kits require it.

    Here is how to test your soils pH using a La Motte soil test kit:

    • Collect your sample: Collect a soil sample as explained in the previous section or according to the test kit instructions.
    • Read instructions: Read the instructions carefully and wear protective gloves and eyewear as some chemicals can cause irritation.
    • Fill: Fill a test tube to the fourth line with the pH indicator solution and add in 1.5 grams of soil.
    • Shake: Put the cap on the tube and shake gently for one minute.
    • Settle: Let the solution settle for 12 minutes.
    • Results: Compare the color of the solution to the pH color card to determine your soils pH. Although this test doesnt use a pH tester, there are several that do.
    • Other data: If you want to learn more about your soil, follow the instructions to find out more data, such as the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

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    Soil Testing: Kit Versus Lab

    A soil test kit will let you know if the soil has a low or high pH, or if it suffers from a nutritional deficiency.

    Can you use a store-bought test kit to test your soil? Those kits can tell you the difference between a normal to adequate nutrient supply and a very deficient supply, Friedericks explains, but they are not precise enough to make a specific recommendation to fix the problems.

    Its best to use a soil testing laboratory that follows uniform methods that are directly related to university research and the recommendations that come from that research.

    A soil pH meter from a garden center or a pH test strip could also be misleading with its result. Numbers matter when it comes to the pH of your soil, and even a slight difference on the pH scale can mean a big change to your lawns acidity.

    The best thing to do is to send a sample for testing by a qualified laboratory, which will give you accurate readings of pH levels and nutrients.

    Nearly all Cooperative Extension Service offices offer low-cost soil testing services. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Office for details on how to take a soil sample and where to send it for a pH test. They can help you find a testing service that is familiar with your particular locale or send it for testing through their office.

    Be sure to compare the recommended fertilizer with your city regulations. Not all cities allow all fertilizers.

    Submitting Samples To The Mu Soil And Plant Testing Labs


    Samples can be submitted through the County Extension Centers or directly to the lab.

    To get information on submitting samples duly filled to the MU Soil and Plant Testing lab, visit the lab’s website at or email or call 573-882-0623. Samples submitted directly to the lab should be accompanied by a duly filled sample submission form and check written in favor of “MU Soil Testing” for the amount due.

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    How To Perform A Soil Test

    When our plants or trees are in trouble, our first instinct is to reach for a hose to hydrate them or lay down fertilizer and hope for new growth.

    But problems with plants arent always about whats going on above groundsometimes we have to dig deeper. When the soil isnt in good shape, it can really affect the plants health. In fact, its estimated that a whopping 80% of problems with plants can be traced back to unhealthy soil!

    Thats why its so important to test your yards soil. A soil test gives you all sorts of valuable information about the best way to care for your plants. Below, find how, and why, to do a soil test.

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    How To Test Your Soil

    First, take a minute to appreciate garden soil. It is not dirt, which is what you sweep off your floor. Garden soil is made up of minerals, organic matter, air and water in a matrix that provides the ideal conditions for plant roots to provide fuel for plants to grow and thrive.

    You can test your own soil using a basic soil test kit from The Home Depot. Inexpensive, easy and accurate, soil tests provide a wealth of knowledge about whats going on under your feet, including the levels of pH, calcium, lime, gypsum and potassium. For a fee, your local County Extension Service will test your soil as well.

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    Soil Testing For Home Lawns And Gardens

    • Joseph Heckman, Extension Specialist in Soil Fertility

    Soil testing can provide information about how to enhance the beauty and productivity of a lawn, landscape planting, or vegetable garden. Whether your goal is a plush, green lawn or a large harvest of vegetables, soil fertility testing is the place to start. It helps by determining a soils need for lime and fertilizer. Regular soil tests are also a part of a sound environmental management plan for your home and garden. Proper soil and fertility management will reduce the potential for water contamination from fertilizers. By knowing the plant nutrition needs of your lawn and gardens, you can prevent the overapplication of fertilizers, which may result in excess nutrients reaching streams or groundwater.

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    How Much Does Garden Soil Testing Cost

    How to Test Lawn Soil and the Soil Test Results

    The overall cost of soil testing depends on the labs prices, how many samples you submit, and what kind of soil analyses are requested.

    A basic garden soil test at college soil lab will often test nutrients, pH, and lead for a fee of about $10-$20 per sample. These labs are generally associated with the local agricultural school or horticultural department of a university. Additional testing and more detailed testing from the school lab will incur additional costs. These tests often take about a month to get results.

    Soil testing is generally most expensive at private soil laboratories. A detailed particle size analysis or a nutrient analysis at a private soil lab can be as much as $100 for a single sample. Check prices and confirm availability prior to choosing the lab and taking soil samples.

    Soil testing for small and medium-sized community gardens, where the site has no unusual features and no past uses of concern, should cost approximately $200 to $500. If there are many issues of concern, there is a chance the cost of your soil test will increase, so be sure to discuss this with the lab.

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    Your Ultimate Goal: Healthy Loamy Soil

    It could take time and repeated soil amendments, but over time you will get the soil under your lawn where it needs to be. It will have a balance of air, organic material, minerals, and micronutrients that help the grass grow.

    Give yourself, and the lawn, time. Plan to test the pH of soil for alkalinity or acidity, make amendments, and level and grade soil before seeding or sodding. The ideal soil is considered to be a loam, which is a mix of sand, silt, and clay, according to the Northeast Beginning Farmers Project.

    Loams take advantage of the balance of water holding and nutrient availability between the three.

    How Does The Lab Test My Garden Soil

    Soil testing laboratories test soil in a number of different ways. Many soil analyses involve weighing the sample, looking at it, and/or mixing the soil with a particular chemical solution to see what happens. Labs typically purchase equipment and get certifications for the tests which are in demand in their area. All labs dont do all kinds of soil tests.

    Most agricultural and horticultural labs estimate soil texture by manual inspection instead of running the sample through a detailed particle size distribution test. Particle size distributions are generally reserved for construction applications, and are not commonly used for horticultural soils. Manual inspection by an experienced lab technician is generally adequate to classify the soil by texture.

    Texture analysis can be estimated using a finger test . As a rule of thumb, a soil must comprise at least 45 percent sand to have a sandy character, at least 40 percent silt to have a silty character, or at least 20 percent clay to have a clayey texture.

    Elemental nutrients are generally tested by mixing the soil with a reactive chemical solution, although there are many methods.

    Many chemical solutions have been proposed to extract potential forms of P in soils.

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