Soil, sunlight, and water are the basic building blocks of your garden. Their partnership in your garden either produces thriving plants or plants that struggle or die. A successful gardener knows the details of her garden’s building blocks so she can make wise plant choices, correct problems, and enhance the garden. If you want to make your garden soil as productive as possible here is the place to start.
Step one is to learn about your soil. The Texas AgriLife Extension Service provides Texans soil analysis for a very reasonable price. A soil analysis will explain your property’s pH level, soil type, nutrient levels, and organic composition. The analysis will tell you want you need to do to improve your soil for the growing conditions you want for your property.
Where to sample
- A soil sample should represent a given area of your lawn or garden that is treated or used similarly (for example, front yard, back yard, planting bed, garden and etc.).
- Sample areas separately if you observe distinct differences in slope, soil texture (for example sandy areas verses clayey) or water drainage.
Collecting a soil sample
- Using a trowel or similar tool, scrape away any non-decomposed plant tissue and materials.
- Next, cut a core or divot 6 inches deep into the soil and place soil in a clean plastic container. Repeat this step 8 to 10 times in the lawn or garden which is being considered for testing.
- Mix all collected soil thoroughly, removing any roots or other visible plant materials and place 2-3 cups of soil in a quart-sized resealable heavy gauge plastic bag. Air-dry soil if sample feels wet to the touch.
A Texas AgriLife Extension Service lab submission form with additional information is available for download.