Why is a soil test required?

Because the soil texture and soil pH are key elements in choosing and placing the right plants on your property, the soil testing process is a crucial and mandatory step in the analysis of your site. Choosing a plant that will fit in a particular site that is desirable to your needs, interests, and functions without regard to the soil texture and soil pH – could result in a poorly placed plant that will:

  • slowly decline
  • require a great amount effort to keep healthy
  • eventually die and require replacement

It’s a great tragedy for a homeowner to invest years of their time into growing a shade tree only to lose that tree when it was just starting to provide substantial shade for their home. Because time is your biggest investment in a landscape design, you need to know your soil texture and soil pH before the planning and planting phases begins. I require a soil test for every landscape design request because I care about my clients and I want to help them protect the investment they make in their landscape by placing ‘the right plant in the right place’.

For Example:  A river birch or red maple tree planted in an alkaline (high pH) soil will chronically be chlorotic (yellowing). Alkaline soils reduce the availability of iron and manganese, two important nutrients found in tree leaves. These nutrients may be abundant in the soil, yet the alkalinity of the soil makes them insoluble and unavailable to certain trees. Merely adding iron to the soil will not improve the condition of the tree. The problem can be further compounded by low oxygen conditions that are common in poorly drained soils like clay. The best way to avoid chlorotic problems for red maple and river birch trees is to NOT plant them in alkaline soils, particularly poorly drained soils like clay.

University of Minnesota Soil Testing Laboratory

The University of Minnesota offers a valuable service to analyze your soil. I have the training to understand the test results and use that information to select plants for your property that will be healthy and successful. Gathering a soil sample for the submission of a soil test is easy. See the links below that outline how to take a soil sample and where to submit the sample. The University of Minnesota will charge you a small fee for the soil test (usually less than $20.00). I’ll be happy to assist you with this process at your request.


Collecting a Soil Sample

Collect several soil samples in areas you feel will be future planting beds for perennials, shrubs and trees and mix them together to submit as one composite sample. Please do not take soil samples from open areas you feel will remain as turf. The primary purpose of this test is to determine the soil texture and soil pH for landscape planting areas only. If you want to have a soil test done for areas that will remain as turf for the purpose of obtaining fertilizer recommendations, please collect and submit a second soil sample for that purpose.


Direction on How to take a good soil sample


Where to submit your soil sample


How to find the current turnaround time to get your results: