How to - Techniques

Quick tip: How to take a soil sample

The best way to gauge your soil’s pH is to take a sample from at least three different areas of your garden.

 
Your soil's pH indicates which kinds of plants will perform well in your garden. Local pH conditions vary across the country—even across the street. But most soils in Canada fall naturally within a band between 6 and 7.5, the most efficient range for nutrient uptake for most plants. Below 5 (very acidic) or above 8 (very alkaline) means there are insufficient nutrients available, and plants will grow poorly. In either case, adding a natural soil conditioner such as compost or composted manure will push the soil toward neutral.

Want to test your soil? Here’s how:

  • For each sample, dig a wedge-shaped hole 15 centimetres deep and set the soil aside. (If sampling the lawn, dig down five to 10 centimetres.)
  • Remove a scoop of soil from the bottom of each hole.
  • Combine the scoops of soil. 
  • Spread the mixture out to air dry on several sheets of clean paper.
  • When dry, collect approximately one cup (250 mL) of the mixture in a plastic container for testing; use either a pH testing kit or submit samples to a soil testing facility. 

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