There’s still time to get your soil samples to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services before Thanksgiving and take advantage of free testing. Samples received after November 30, 2023 through March 31, 2024—the peak soil testing season—are charged an analysis fee of $4 per sample. Before you get started, here are the current Soil Sampling Tips for Homeowners.
Get soil test kits at the Extension office
Soil test boxes, sample information forms, and instructions are available outside the front door at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Buncombe County Center, 49 Mount Carmel Road, Asheville, NC 28806.
Taking the sample
The instruction sheet, A Guide to Soil Sampling—A Soil Test Is Only as Good as the Soil Sample Taken!, explains how to take your sample. Using a clean, stainless steel or chrome-plated trowel, dig about 6 inches deep in 4 or 5 spots in the testing area. Place the soil samples in a clean plastic bucket or bowl and mix well. If the soil is wet, wait for it to dry out before mixing. Fill the soil test box to the fill line and label the box. If you still have questions about taking the sample, here is a short video: How to Test Your Garden Soil.
Where to sample
Take several soil samples from different areas of your yard or garden and use a separate box for each sample. Suggested sample areas include: lawn, vegetable garden, flowerbeds, landscape trees and shrubs, roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, and other fruits and berries.
Complete the sample information form and mail
Complete an information form for each soil sample, note any lime applications you’ve made in the last 12 months, and indicate the Lawn and Garden Planting Code for the area sampled. You’ll also need to provide an email address to receive your results.
Place the information form on top of your soil test boxes in a cardboard box and mail to the address listed on the form. It is helpful to keep a record to remind yourself of where you took each sample.
After the lab has tested the soil samples, you will receive a test report with recommendations for fertilizer and pH amendment. During the winter it takes about one to two months to receive your test results. Currently, it is taking about 4 weeks for the lab to process a soil sample.
– A separate page on this website, includes links to all things related to soil testing by homeowners: Soil Testing Information for Home Gardeners
– N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website: https://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/sthome.htm
– Soil Testing for Lawns and Gardens by Charlotte Glenn, State Coordinator, NC Extension Master Gardener Program Horticultural Science – NC State University