Soil Sampling

By: Bradley Wilson

Soil testing, What is it??

The analysis of a soil sample to determine nutrient and contaminated content, composition, and other characteristics such as the acidity or pH level

Why should we perform soil test as a homeowner?

Encourages plant growth by providing the best lime and fertilizer recommendations.

Information soil testing gives you...

When growers guess about the need for lime or fertilizers, too little or too much is likely to be applied. By using a soil test report, the grower does not need to guess.

Steps in performing a soil test in your yard.

  1. Use a core device, auger, trowel, spade or other tool to collect core samples from 4-6 inches in depth Samples should be uniform in diameter.
  2. Take 5-10 random core samples from the test area. See illustration.
  3. Combine and mix the samples thoroughly in a clean container, removing any stones, grass or roots. Allow to air dry. If the lawn or garden has areas with distinctly different soil conditions, collect samples from each area, keeping each sample separate.
  4. Take 1-2 cups of the soil sample mixture to your local county extension center in an airtight, resealable plastic bag.

Avoid taking samples from..

  • Areas which appear abnormal, such as back fill ditches, along fence lines, or under trees and shrubs which may have been given extra fertilizer
  • Spots where grass, vegetable plants or flowers have suddenly died or change color
  • wet soil

Unusual spots in yard and what to do.

Avoid unusual areas unless you want to get a sample of the unusual area only so that it can be treated.

Where to send soil samples.

Place soil samples in box, send box and information to Agronomic Division Soil Test Lab in Raleigh.


Most of the year (generally April through November), routine NCDA&CS soil tests are provided at "no direct cost" to N.C. residents because of funding derived from a statewide fee on commercial fertilizer.

From December through March, however, a peak-season fee of $4 is charged for the processing of all soil samples.

How long will it take for results?????

It takes approximately two to four weeks to have the results mailed to your address depending on the time of year.