How To Do A Soil Test On Your Lawn

A perfect lawn needs perfect soil.

And the only way to make your yards soil perfect is to know what is currently available in the soil – nutrients and micronutrients as well as the pH level of the soil.

To find out that information you will need to do a soil test.

You can buy a home soil test kit anywhere – but we recommend the one linked below from Soil Savvy.

Check out the instructions and video below to get started.

How To Do a Soil Test on Your Lawn:

  1. Inside the test kit box you have an instruction card. You also have a customer card you keep and a laboratory card you send in to the lab with your lawns soil sample. Then you have a measuring cup to know how much soil to send in as well as a sealable container (that has a small amount of water inside) with a bar code to send the soil to the lab in.
  2. To get the sample you will need a soil probe. They are affordable on Amazon ($25). Push the soil probe into your lawn and when you pull it out a 6 inch or so cylindrical sample of your lawn soil will come up. If you don’t have a soil probe you can use a small shovel or trowel.
  3. Take multiple samples (at least 5 but closer to 10 is best) across your lawn and mix the soil together in a bag. This will insure you get a full picture of what is available in the soil in terms of nutrients.
  4. With all your samples mixed in a bag or bucket you can now scoop out your sample to send off to the lab. Using the measuring cup provided with the home soil test kit put the soil into the sealable container that has some water inside. Seal up the container tight so it won’t leak in transit to the lab.
  5. Put sealed container into supplied envelope and mail off.

Buy Soil Test Kit Here

Buy Soil Probe Here

Can I test the soil myself?

Yes, there are soil test kits you don’t have to mail off.

They look like this and are only $15:

Home soil test kit

They allow you to measure soil pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Check it out here in more detail

They’ll allow you to get an instant idea what is going on inside your soil.

What is soil pH?

In case you don’t remember high school chemistry let’s have a quick look at what pH is.

  • pH is a number from 0 to 14 which tells whether your soil is acidic or alkaline.
  • The lower the number the more acidic your lawn soil.
  • Below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline.
  • Almost all veggies and grasses will thrive in slightly acidic soil of 6 – 7 pH.

Where can I get my soil tested for free?

We are not aware of anywhere you can get your soil tested for free.

Your local Cooperative Extension Service is your best bet but they will charge a small fee.

The home test kits are only $15 and so it is probably more affordable to do that.

Find your closest Extension Office here.

Are DIY soil tests accurate?

Yes, the soil tests you do at home are accurate in testing for pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.

You will need to make sure you take soil samples from all over your lawn (and mix them together before testing) to get the best picture what is happening in the soil.

Is there a visual way to tell if my lawn soil is unhealthy?

Yes, of course.

Healthy soil is soil that is full of life: worms, spiders, beetles and fungi are signs of healthy soil.

Dig a hole a few inches deep and watch how many life forms you see. The more the better the healthier.

Healthy soil will also be dark brown almost black and will crumble when you pick it up. Crumbly soil is good as it is a sign of airflow and water circulation.

Wrap Up

There you have it. Doing a soil test on your lawn is a simple task to save you time in the long run. Getting your lawn oil healthy before spreading grass seed is important to ensure the best results.

Further Reading

  1. Once your grass is growing you will want to mow it with the best lawn mower you can buy. We did the research so you don’t have to. Check our list of the best 7.
  2. Do you have a dog? We did a fun series on dogs and grass. Do you know why dogs eat grass? Do you know if dog pee kills grass? Why do dogs roll in grass? Check out those article for a fun read about dogs and grass.
  3. After putting in all this work testing your soil to ensure your lawn is the best on the block you’ll want to know how to stop dumb neighbors driving on your lawn wrecking it.

About your guide: Jamey Kramar is a certified Lawn Care Manager (NALP) and a Mechanical Engineer by trade. He has been writing about outdoor power equipment for 11 years and has been quoted in NYTimes, Popular Mechanics, HowStuffWorks, iFixit,, and more. He spends his spare time disassembling things and also building an off-grid cabin at his 200-acre property.