How to have your soil tested

  • To determine the exact components of your soil, you can do any of the following three things:

    You can purchase a soil test kit at many retail garden centers and do the testing yourself
    Soil test kits range in cost from $10 to $50 for multiple tests.  A Technology & Product Report from the American Society of Horticultural Science assessed the accuracy of commercially available soil test kits, as compared to test results from an analytical laboratory:
           #1. La Motte Soil Test Kit (La Motte Co., Chesteron, MD)   94%
           #2. Rapidtest® (Luster Leaf Products, Woodstock, IL)    92%
           #3. Quick Soiltest (Hanna, Woonsocket, RI)      64%

    Source: HortTechnology 17:358-362 (2007) 

    Or you can send a soil sample to a testing laboratory
    Testing laboratories charge for soil analysis.  We suggest that you call the selected laboratory prior to submitting samples. Quite often samples must be taken, packaged, and sent in a particular manner in order to obtain the best possible diagnosis.  Soil testing laboratories in Southern California are:
    1. Associated Labs, Orange (714-771-6900)
    2. Soil and Plant Laboratory, Inc., Orange (714-282-8777)
    3. Wallace Laboratories, El Segundo (800-473-3699)
    4. The PACE Turfgrass Research facility in Oceanside (760-272-9897) maintains a list of soil analytical laboratories.

    Or you can visit Orange County Farm Supply in Orange and drop off a sample; be sure to call them at (714) 978-6500 first to find out how to take a sample. 

    Click here for an introduction to amending soils from Colorado State University.