How to Check Lawn Soil


Soil testing analyzes a prepared soil sample of your yard or garden. The test results give homeowners vital information on nutrient requirements, pH level and soil composition to properly maintain the garden or lawn. The test will prevent overapplying fertilizer and determine best type of fertilizer to meet the soil requirements. Take soil samples in the late summer or early fall before fertilizer is applied.

Step 1

Contact your local county university extension office to obtain the paperwork and submission information for the soil sample.

Step 2

Assemble the tools needed for soil collection. The tools include a garden trowel and clean plastic bucket that has not been washed with dish soap.

Step 3

Take 10 samples from the area of lawn or garden that needs testing by walking in a zig-zag pattern through out the area.

Step 4

Dig the samples by scraping away a section of the top layer of turf approximately the size of your hand. Dig a hole 3 inches deep and cut a section of soil from the side. Place the scoop in the bucket. Newly seeded lawns should take a sample from a 6-inch-deep hole.

Step 5

Remove rocks, grass clippings and other organic material from the soil samples.

Step 6

Mix the 10 samples together in the bucket and place 2 cups in the sample bag provided with the testing paperwork.

Step 7

Fill out the accompanying paperwork for the soil test. Include notes on the type of growing area the samples were taken from, the watering schedule for the area, and if organic matter was removed.

Step 8

Bring the sample and paperwork to the county university extension office or mail it to the testing location as noted on the soil sample paperwork.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not take samples underneath trees or areas where additional fertilizer is applied. Do not take samples from areas where the soil is wet.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test paperwork
  • Garden trowel
  • Clean plastic bucket


  • Know Your Soil
  • Lawn Soil Testing
Keywords: soil test procedure, soil requirements, lawn soil test

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.