Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 2, 2013

Soil test kits provide analysis, recommendations


EAST LANSING — Michigan State University Extension provides an easy-to-use soil test kit for home gardeners.

In many cases, lawn and garden soils are rich and productive, needing little or no enhancements. Others may be poor soils or depleted, needing to be replenished.

Approaching plant care without conducting a baseline soil test may put gardeners at risk of over fertilization. This not only can have negative effects on plant growth and create an imbalance in the soil, but lead to pollution of local water resources.

The Home Lawn and Garden Soil Test Mailer can be used to process any type of home soil sample, such as lawn, vegetable garden, tree, shrub, flower and tree or small fruit. Results will determine soil type, pH, level of organic matter and provide a reading for nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

In addition, results include a recommendation for nitrogen and will determine how much lime should be applied based upon the type of plantings planned.

The lab analysis takes three to five working days from the time samples are received. Test results are usually returned in about two weeks.

The cost of the mailer is $25 plus shipping and handling. The mailer may also be available for pick-up at local MSU Extension county offices.

For more information, visit

MSU Extension horticulture educators will present seminars, information and be available to answer questions at the Novi Cottage and Lakefront Living Show Feb. 21-24 and the West Michigan Home and Garden Show in Grand Rapids Feb. 28-March 3.