How to Take a Soil Sample

Background

The UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County office provides basic soil pH testing.

Other tests are available through the UF/IFAS Extension Soil Testing Lab in Gainesville. Please contact our office if you have questions about soil tests or are unsure about which test(s) you need.

Soil pH is a measure of the soil’s acidity or alkalinity. pH is important because it governs how available nutrients are to plants.

Homeowners can use this information to:

  • determine if existing plants are suited to a location
  • choose new plant material best suited to the site
  • apply fertilizer and soil amendments properly
How to Take a Soil Sample
  1. Test areas separately for different uses such as vegetable garden, lawn areas, azaleas, etc.
  2. For each area to be tested, use a trowel or shovel to take soil from 10 – 15 locations and mix them together in a bucket.
  3. When testing a soil for lawn, take soil from the upper 2 – 4 inches. When sampling for a vegetable garden or landscape plants, take soil from the upper 6 inches.
  4. From this mixture, take out about 1 cup of soil. This is the representative sample that you’ll submit.
  5. Allow the soil to dry on newspaper or in an open container.
  6. Put the dry soil in a plastic bag, zip top bag, or other clean container.
  7. Label each sample with your name, phone number, and identifying information about where the sample was taken (example: front yard, vegetables, back yard).
  8. Fill out the soil test form and specify what kind of plant(s) you are testing the soil for. Lawn samples should specify what kind of grass is planted or to be planted.
  9. Samples for pH only may be brought to the County Extension office Monday – Friday, 8 AM – 5 PM, except holidays. Testing is usually done on Friday mornings and results are mailed or e-mailed as soon as possible. The cost for each sample is $3.00. Make checks payable to University of Florida. Link to our soil pH test form.
  10. Mail samples for University of Florida tests to the UF/IFAS Extension Soil Testing Laboratory in Gainesville.
Resources

For general pH ranges of common landscape plants, consult the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design available at this link: http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/publications/files/FFL_Plant_Selection_Guide.pdf

Hillsborough County Extension Service pH test measures acidity or alkalinity; $3.00 per sample

UF/IFAS pH test & lime requirement (if needed) measures acidity or alkalinity and performs lime requirement test if needed; $3.00 per sample

UF/IFAS pH & soil fertility test measures soil pH, lime requirement (if needed), P, K, Ca, Mg; $7.00 per sample

UF/IFAS pH, soil fertility test + micronutrients measures pH, lime requirement (if needed), P, K, Ca, Mg, + Cu, Mn, Zn); $12.00 per sample