A Good Sample Means Accurate Results
A small trowel and clean pail are the only two tools needed to take a soil sample. A special soil sampler is convenient, but not necessary.
How Many Samples Are Needed
In most cases only one sample is needed for a single lawn, garden, flowerbed, etc. This holds true as long as the soil texture is the same and previous liming and fertilizing practices have been the same. Where this is not the case or if a problem area exists, then separate samples should be taken from these areas.
How To Take A Sample
There are two important requirements for sampling. First, a uniform slice should be taken to the desired depth (see below); second the same depth and volume of soil should be taken from each spot sampled. When sampling with a small trowel dig a hole to the sampling depth, cut a ½ inch thick slice of sod from the face of the hole, and trim both vertical sides of the slice to obtain a strip of soil about one inch wide from top to bottom.
Sample To Proper Depth
Lawns - a sample from the upper 4-6 inches of sod is satisfactory, thatch and other visible plant residue should be removed.
Home Gardens - Soil samples are ordinarily taken to the tillage depth (rototiller or spading under depth). This depth is usually 6 - 10 inches. The tillage depth is important since limestone and certain fertilizers are eventually mixed within the entire tilled layer.
Tree and Fruit Crops - Two samples should be taken: 1) a surface soil sample from the 0 to 8 inch depth, and 2) a sub-soil sample from the 8 to 16 inch depth. These should be placed in separate containers and labeled separately; two samples are more important when establishing new orchards or where problems exist. For routine testing only the surface sample may be necessary.
Ornamental Trees and Shrubs - Follow the same procedure as outlined for Tree and Fruit Crops.
Obtain A Representative Sample
Each sod sample should be a composite consisting of the soil from samples taken randomly at several places across the lawn, garden, etc. This should minimize non-uniformity. Sample about 10 locations over the area to makeup the composite sample (see diagram).
Place each sample into a plastic pail and mix it thoroughly by hand. A quart-size container full of sod is sufficient for testing. Identify each container on the outside, preferably with a marker pen, with a simple code
(e.g. #1.letter A, etc.).
Fill In The Data Form
Please fill in the required data to the best of your knowledge on the reverse side of this form. Bring or mail your sample(s) with the appropriate fee to:
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County,
18 Seward Avenue, Suite 300
Middletown NY 10940-1919
Garden Helpline: 845-343-0664
AREA TO BE SAMPLED
x x x
x x x x
TAKE SAMPLE FROM EACH "x"