Soil Samples

Taking a Soil Sample

NOTE: Time-sensitive submissions such as plant problem samples, nematode samples, manure samples, compost samples, leaf analyses should be dropped off during office hours.

  • If payment is made by check, soil samples can be dropped anytime into the dropbox and must include the check.  The fee is $6/sample bag.

  • If payment is made by credit card, you must make prior arrangements by calling the office before the drop.
  • Cash, credit card, or check is accepted when dropping off samples during office hours.

Growing plants successfully requires proper soil nutrition. So you will need to know what your soil’s nutrient levels are and its pH (acidity/alkalinity). pH is an important part of plant nutrition because it determines the plant’s ability to use other available plant nutrients to produce photosynthesis. So before you feed your plants try to determine the PH and nutrient level of your soil. You can determine PH using a soil test kit or meter or do a complete soil test. Some soil test kits will also test for basic soil nutrients such as nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus. Applying fertilizer and other chemicals when not needed can actually make things worse and injure plants. So don’t guess–do a soil sample.

How to do a soil sample:

  • Use a clean garden trowel or shovel to collect the samples. It is important to use clean sampling tools. If you have recently fertilized or applied Pesticides wait a few weeks to take the sample as this will impact the results. Try to gather soil from the surface to a depth of about 6 inches(2 to 3 inches in a lawn area) from several spots in the area to be tested 10-12 is ideal. Keep track of which area of your property you are testing (front lawn, north border, vegetable garden, etc.). It’s also best to sample specific areas separately such as vegetable garden, lawn, etc. as they have different needs.
  • Mix the samples in a clean container. The sample should not be wet if so wait for a drier period to take it. Place at least two cups of the mixed soil in a plastic Ziploc bag. Write on the bag when the sample was taken, were taken and what is being grown(vegetables, lawn, etc.)
  • Take your sample to the Aiken County extension office (803-649-6297), 1555 Richland Ave. East, Suite 500 Aiken, South Carolina 29801. There is a fee of $6.00 per standard soil sample.
  • The results will be emailed to you and a copy sent to the extension office in a couple of weeks with detailed nutrient levels and recommendations on adding soil amendments.