Most people think that the time to get a soil test is in the spring when they start thinking about what they want to grow, and how it is going to look. While a spring test can be important if one hasn’t been done for several years, a fall test can actually help you more.
There are several reasons that a fall test can be easier and more beneficial than a spring one. The ground is usually dryer at this point in the year, so it is easier to get a well-mixed sample for a complete representation of the area you want to know about. The lab is usually less busy at this point in the year, so you receive your results back a little quicker to be able to implement them. Then you have all fall to fertilize and add amendments to the soil, and then those amendments have all winter to be incorporated into the soil structure so that you have a more consistent base for your plants in the spring.
The basics for a soil sample are pretty much the same for any area of your landscape. For smaller areas, you will want 4 to 6 different areas to sample from and a larger area such as your lawn, sample 8 to 12 different places. For a garden, it is recommended that you collect a sample 8 to 12 inches deep. For turf grass, a core sample taken 3 inches deep will be adequate. Make sure that you get even amounts from every layer of the soil. Mix all the samples together and bring 2 cups into the Extension office. When we get the results back, we will give you some recommendations on how to make sure your landscape has what it needs next spring to get the most out of your lawn and garden. If you have any questions on if you should get a soil test, or more information, stop by our office at 1800 12th street, or give us a call at 620-793-1910. We will be happy to help you out!
Alicia Boor is the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-State Research and Extension. You can contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 620-793-1910