Soil Testing Lab Analysis for Home Gardeners in California

A periodic soil test lets homeowners catch nutrient deficiencies before they progress

  Are you an avid gardener? Besides indicating nutrient deficiencies, a soil test can also provide information on soil acidity, the percentage of organic matter in your soil, and your soil’s texture.

Why test garden and planting soil?

The reality of horticulture is that we are trying to grow plants in an unnatural setting. Over the years we have selected and developed plants from different parts of the world to produce bigger, brighter flowers and fruit that would not grow/occur naturally in many of the environments where we have built our homes. The soils where we live may not be perfectly suited to support the type of landscape that we envision. To a large extent we can modify the soil’s physical and chemical conditions by adding amendments to make it more suitable for growing beautiful plants. Although in some cases it may be easier to select plants based on the conditions of the soil.

A proper sample is critical

Even a soil scientist cannot assess the chemical nature of the soil by just looking at it or digging in it. A laboratory soil analysis is necessary to evaluate the fertility status and toxic constituents of a soil.

If you were to go see a doctor, would you expect her to offer a diagnosis or recommend treatment without even taking your vital signs? There are characteristics of soil that can be measured quantitatively that can predict the suitability and probable performance of plants. Analytical testing is routinely used in agriculture to efficiently grow the food that we eat. This same science and technology also allows us to evaluate and improve the soils of our landscapes and home gardens.

Keep in mind though – it will not tell you about poor soil drainage, insufficient sunlight, or insects and diseases. These threats to plants also can cause off-color leaves and stunted growth, so rule them out first before moving on to a soil analysis test.

Soil Testing Sampling Guidelines for Growers in SF Bay Area California

Installing a landscape without first testing the soil is like taking a car trip without a map. It’s taking a gamble.

Knowing your soil’s chemical and basic physical properties will allow you amend the soil with the proper amounts and types of fertilizers, correct problems before the plants are selected and installed, and select plants that will be more likely to thrive in your soil type. Testing can also diagnose nutritional problems in an established landscape and help evaluate your current fertilizing program.

The cost of a soil test is small when the total cost of design, plant purchase, installation, and maintenance is taken into account. A well balanced soil will in turn create stronger plants that will look healthier and be more resistant to pests and drought.

Few landscapers are trained in soil and plant nutrition and even if they were, they would definitely use a soil analysis to make management decisions.

General Soil Health Package

S-15-R
Our most commonly ordered test package. Provides information on soil health and fertility + recommendations
$ 166
  • Fertility Analysis pH, electrical conductivity, nitrate nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium and magnesium
  • Sodium, Chloride, Sulfate and Boron from saturated paste extract
  • DTPA extracted Zinc, Copper, Manganese, and Iron
Popular

Horticultural Appraisal Package

(WELO Compliant) H-1-R
Complete soil chemical and physical analyses + recommendations
$ 256
  • Fertility Analysis pH, electrical conductivity, nitrate nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium and magnesium
  • Saturation percentage, calcium plus magnesium, sodium, chloride, boron, SAR, ESP
  • Sodium, Chloride, Sulfate and Boron from saturated paste extract, DTPA extracted zinc, copper, manganese, and iron
  • Organic Matter
  • Cation Exchange Capacity
  • Lime content
  • Soil Texture Analysis

Complete Water or Fertilizer Solution Analysis Package

W-1-R
$ 152
  • pH, Electrical Conductivity, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride
  • carbonate, bicarbonate, sulfate, nitrate nitrogen, ammonium nitrogen, phosphorous
  • boron, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, silicon, molybdenum

Complete Plant Tissue Elemental Analysis

P-1-R
$ 145
  • N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, B, Zn, Cu, Mn, Mo, Na, Si

Soil testing takes the guesswork out of keeping your soil in optimum condition for plant growth and development.