How to take your soil sample

General Sample Taking Information


Specific directions for collecting soil samples are given on the individual Soil Test Information Forms. In general samples should be collected as follows:

  • The soil sample should be representative of the area for which you want recommendations.
  • Avoid areas that have an obvious difference in soil type, drainage, or plant growth.
  • Take samples from 6-8 spots in each garden or lawn area you want tested. Mix these 6-8 spots together to create a representative sample of the area.
  • Each sample should be taken from a depth of 6" for gardens, 6"- 8" for trees and shrubs, and 3-4" for lawns.
  • The sample can be taken with a spade, shovel, trowel, soil probe or auger.
  • Air dry, remove stones and other debris.
  • Submit ONLY 1 cup of dry soil in a clean zip-lock bag, labeled with a name unique to that sample. (e.g., Front lawn, Vegetable garden.)
  • Make sure you include the sample name(s) and the crop to be grown on the form.
  • Mail or drop off the soil, the completed form and a check payable to UNHCE.


If requesting texture class, send 2 cups of soil.

Below are suggestions from the lab that will help us to process the soil more efficiently.

  • A good sample is dry, and does not contain leaves, grass, roots, moss, rocks or worms.
  • The form and check should NOT be put directly in the bag with wet soil.
  • There is no need to staple the check to the form. We will not lose it and pulling all these staples is time consuming. It is ok to staple all pages of the form together.
  • There is no need to cut apart & staple each sample description page to the bag that has that soil. If everything is labeled clearly, we can figure this out. Use a sharpie to write the sample name on the outside of the bag.
  • There is no need to use tape anytime, any place or anywhere. Plastic bags, checks and paperwork all tear when the tape is pulled away - this is especially true when duct tape is used.