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What’s in your soil?

Post by Bob Mertens; Horticulture Program Specialist

Before installing plants, starting a garden or planting a lawn, it is important to obtain a soil test.  Many problems can occur when plants are growing in soils with a pH to which they are not adapted.  Some plants need low pH acidic soil while others will tolerate a wide range of pH.  Very few plants grow well in alkaline soil with a high pH.  The best solution to pH problems is to grow only plants that are adapted to your particular type of soil.

The UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County can test soil for pH and soluble salts.  Bring approximately one cup of soil taken from four inches beneath the surface to the Extension office for testing.  Do not include mulch, organic matter, or roots in the sample.  There is a $5.00 charge per sample for testing.

If a more comprehensive analysis is required, the UF/IFAS Soil Laboratory in Gainesville can test for nutrients in addition to pH and lime requirement.  The Extension office has free bags and pre-addressed mailing boxes for you to send your soil samples to the UF/IFAS lab for testing.  There is an additional charge for this service.

Phone: 941-861-9805       Email: rmertens@scgov.net

For further information on soil testing, please see the publication below:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss480

2 Comments on “What’s in your soil?

  1. I’d like to have my tested before I lay sod. The land has been recently cleared of Brazilian pepper trees and I’ve been told that the soil is no longer suitable for any other vegetation.
    Where can I deliver this sample in Sarasota?
    What do you require?
    Thank you,
    Dan Ventura

    • Hello Mr. Ventura,

      Thanks so much for reaching out to UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County with your question about soil testing. It is great to hear that you have had all the invasive Brazilian pepper trees removed from your yard.

      There are a few different ways that you can go about getting your soil tested before planting sod. If you would like to test only for pH and salinity, you can make an appointment to drop off samples at our office in Twin Lakes Park by emailing mgorman@scgov.net. However, since you had some major tree removal recently done, I would recommend also testing for micro- and macro-nutrients. A quick web search on a term like “soil testing lab near me” will show a list of firms that provide analyses (make sure to select a lab that is actively testing soils).

      You can also mail soil samples to the University of Florida soil testing lab, in Gainesville. This is a quick and inexpensive option, if you don’t mind making a trip to the post office (or have the ability to send from home). Here is a link to UF’s soil testing form, including instructions for collecting, preparing and shipping samples: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/SS/SS18700.pdf. (Note: If you choose to use UF’s soil testing lab and need help filling out the form, just let us know and we can help.)

      Best,
      Sarah Bostick
      Sustainable Agriculture Agent
      UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

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