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University of Minnesota Extension

Lawn & Garden Step-by-step Soil Sampling Guide

Why should we test our soil?

Let's take a deeper look into and provide more information about soil sampling. We will cover why you should consider, how to collect, how to submit, and how to interpret a soil sample submission.


Collecting a Soil Sample

For information on how to take a proper soil sample, view the infographic below. A similar process can be used with a shovel and trowel. Using a shovel, dig a hole at least 6 inches deep. With the trowel, take a slice of soil from the side of the hole and collect subsamples in a bucket. For an accurate soil sample, aim to take the same amount of soil from each sampling location.

collecting a soil sample

Submitting a soil sample

In order to properly submit a soil sample, view the graphic below before sending samples to the soil testing laboratory. The required submission forms have been shared below, but they can be found in a printable format on the website. More information about properly submitting soil samples and the submission forms can be found on the Soil Testing Laboratory website, which can be found here: https://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu/

lawn and garden form

Understanding lawn and garden soil sample

A yard and garden result can be viewed in a similar manner to a farm and field, but recommendations are given in terms of lbs./1000 sq foot instead of lbs./acre. Review the previous posts regarding the importance of soil qualities, including organic matter, texture, pH, phosphorus, and potassium. If you have any questions related to the interpretation of a yard and garden soil sample, reach out to your extension educator via the Horticulture Phone Line at (218) 733-2870 and press 2 to leave a message.


Calculating NPK

Calculating N-P-K applications can be completed using your Lawn and Garden Soil Sample result. View the following graphic to help complete these calculations. Remember that nutrient content in fertilizer is given in the form of percentages in the mixture, so calculations must be completed to apply the desired lbs/1000 sq ft. Reach out to your local extension office for assistance in determining the amount of fertilizer needed for your yard or garden.

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