How to Test the Soil in Your Yard

Your lawn can only be as good as the earth in which it grows. If you grass is not looking as healthy as it could, maybe it is time to test the soil. Basic tests are available to see whether the soil is too acidic or too alkaline, to detect levels of soluble salt that can come from lawn water or fertilizers, and to measure important lawn nutrients like phosphorus and potassium.

  1. Mark five or six unique areas in your lawn for sampling.
  2. Use a shovel or garden spade to make a groove at each location, slicing down four to six inches in depth and widening the cut.
  3. Remove a sample from the center of the groove using a trowel.
  4. Place the soil in a clean plastic bucket. Use the same process to take samples from the other five locations and combine all the samples in the same bucket.
  5. Remove any grass, roots, litter, rocks, or other debris from the soil in the bucket.
  6. Have the sample tested by your local agricultural research and extension center (usually at no cost) or purchase a soil test kit from your home improvement store. Fill in your name, address, and other required details, and place the soil sample in the pouch provided.
  7. Seal it and drop the pouch in the mail. The testing lab will complete the test within three days of receiving the sample.
  8. View the results on an email link they will send you. If any of the values are too high or too low, the soil test report will tell you what to do about it.