Lawn and Garden Soil Sampling

Soil test kit self mailerSoil testing is a recommended practice to avoid over fertilization. Applying the correct amount of fertilizer can save money and protect Michigan’s water resources. This kit comes complete with everything you’ll need to submit a soil sample for testing by the MSU Soils Laboratory. Simply follow the instructions, put the completed form and soil sample in the postage-paid envelope and you will receive an email when your results are available at the MSU Soil Test website. NOTE: For best service, customers should provide an email address. Those without an email address will receive their printed results in the mail.

The Soil Test Kit Self-Mailer (E3154) is available the MSU Extension Bookstore.       

Don’t Guess - Soil Test!

Sampling Instructions

  • MSU recommends a minimum of 1 sample per 20 acres, more if known differences exist in soil type or management history.
  • Using a soil probe, spade or trowel, and a clean plastic pail, sample in a zigzag fashion throughout a uniform area.
  • Take a representative sampling of the soil in the area you are testing, 15-20 subsamples are recommended for a 20-acre field, and at least 6-8 for a small plot.
  • Sampling depths are the following:
    • Field soils – 8 inches
    • Garden soils – 6 to 8 inches
    • Lawn – 3 inches below turf
  • Combine all samples into the plastic pail and mix thoroughly.  Fill a soil sample box with the sample, or package about a pint of soil.  If soil is wet, spread it on paper and allow to air dry overnight.  Do not heat the soil.
  • Fill out an information form and send it with the soil sample to the soil testing lab.

Home Gardener Samples

The NEW Home Yard and Garden Soil Test Mailer can be used to process any type of home soil sample (lawn, vegetable garden, tree, shrub, flower and tree/small fruit) and will be available at the MSU Extension Office OR through the MSUE Bookstore www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu.  Search for the mailer using SKU# E3154.  Cost is $25 each.

Commercial Samples (i.e. farmers, wildlife plots, septage)

Pick up a soil box and information form from the MSU Extension Office.  Client is responsible for mailing sample to the soil testing lab at Michigan State University.

When will I receive the results?

Depending on the work load at the Soil Testing Lab, it will generally take 10 days to two weeks to receive your results, after it is received at the MSU Soil Nutrient and Plant Lab.  If you submit your sample without an e-mail address, it may take slightly longer for you to receive your results in the mail.

For more information about soil testing, visit the MSU Soil Test Website.  

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