Why test your soil?
Soil testing is a service of Penn State University that measures the levels of several essential plant nutrients and recommends proper amounts of lime and fertilizer. This test does not check for pesticide residue, gas, oil or other pollutants. The test will measure soil pH, the levels of phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium and make a nitrogen recommendation.
Proper fertility is the foundation for plant health. Turfgrass, woody landscape plants, fruit, vegetables and annual flowers all have specific nutrition requirements. Soil pH and nutrient levels vary greatly from site to site. Guesses about nutritional needs often miss the mark. A $9.00 investment in a Penn State Soil Test will ensure you are applying the proper amounts of fertilizer. Soil tests often save you money by revealing that adequate quantities of soil nutrients are present.
Obtaining a good sample
Define the area to be tested; a flower bed, a vegetable garden, small orchard, athletic field, etc. Criss cross your way throughout the area and sample 12-15 locations. Sample 3-4 inches deep for turf and pasture, 6-8 inches deep for other plants. Throw out any stones, sod and thatch. Put the samples together in a clean container. A paper bag or plastic bucket works well. Make sure to dry the soil before mailing - you don’t want to pay postage for water weight! Do not heat the sample.
Complete the questionnaire that comes with the soil test kit and mail it to the address on the included bag.
Results will come back in about 7-10 days. You will receive an analysis of the soil with recommendations for improvements if needed.
If you have questions, our Horticulture Hotline is available to help you.
Purchase soil test kits from the Montgomery County Extension
Soil test kits are $9.00 if you pick them up in the Montgomery County Extension office or $10.50 if you would like a kit mailed to you.
Simply send a check payable to Montgomery County Cooperative Extension for $10.50 to:
Montgomery County Extension
1015 Bridge Rd., Suite H
Collegeville, PA 19426
Don't forget to tell us where to send it! Please indicate Soil Test Kit on your envelope.