Analyzing your soil’s fertility lets you apply supplementary nutrients to suit the needs of the plants you wish to grow. Proper lime and fertilizer application reduces wasted nutrients and stress on plants. To measure soil fertility accurately, however, you must prepare a representative sample, which means you must sample more than one spot within the area of concern. For large plantings or areas of plants with specialized needs, such as lawns, acid-loving plants, and vegetable gardens, separate samples will allow proper recommendations for each site. Before starting, determine that the soil is dry enough to sample by squeezing a handful. It is dry enough if the soil crumbles when you open your fist.
Begin sampling by making a vertical cut to a depth of 6 to
8 inches with a spade or trowel.
Make a second cut at a 45° angle to the first,
removing the wedge-shaped section and setting it aside.