Soil Sample Now to Have a Great Lawn or Garden in 2019

Posted On November 27, 2018— Written By and last updated by

Many homeowners had multiple problems with their lawns and gardens this past year. Some of the most frequent included poor plant growth, poor fruit set, weed infestations and disease. Any or all of these problems could be directly related to a soil problem; either a nutrient deficiency, nutrient overload, or pH imbalance. To determine if you have any of these soil issues, you should collect a soil sample and submit it to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) for analysis. Soil tests are free to NC residents between April 1 and November 29 — samples should reach their facility by November 29. There is a $4 per sample fee between December 1 and March 31.

The first step to determine if you have a soil problem is to collect a good sample. The sample must represent the entire unique area (flower bed, vegetable garden, or lawn) or the results will have little or no value. Use a soil probe, spade, garden trowel or shovel to collect 10 to 12 soil cores from each individual area. Soil cores are slices of soil from the surface to the desired sample depth. Lawns should be sampled to a depth of 4 inches, gardens and flower beds should be sampled to a depth of 6 inches, and fruit trees and vines should be sampled between 6 -12 inches deep. Do not use brass, bronze or galvanized tools or buckets that can contaminate samples with copper and or zinc. Mix soil cores thoroughly in a clean plastic bucket and use the soil mixture to fill a soil sample box to the fill line on the side of the sample box. Repeat for each unique area that needs sampling.

The N.C. Cooperative Extension of Sampson County service offers free soil sampling kits to residents of Sampson County. You can pick up your free soil sampling kit at the office located at 55 Agriculture Place, Clinton NC.

Secondly, fill out the soil sample information form and label the box completely. Once the forms are complete, bring the sample and forms to the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Sampson County office and we will deliver it to Raleigh free of charge. Completed reports are posted online within 4-8 weeks.

By sampling, you can potentially save money that might otherwise be spent on unneeded lime and fertilizer. You can also potentially avert problems stemming from pH imbalance, nutrient overload, or nutrient deficiencies. You can also save time and labor while having a better-looking lawn or more productive vegetable garden or small fruits.

If you need assistance with interpreting soil analysis reports, ask one of your local extension agents for assistance.