Soil Testing

The Massachusetts Master Gardener Association is pleased to announce that we will offer soil testing at the Sally Frank’s Farmers’ Market.

One of the most important components of healthy garden plants is good soil. The most accurate and effective way to assess the nutrient status and the relative acidity of the soil (pH) is through soil testing. Learn more about the health of your soil by having your soil tested. We can offer you basic information about your soil sample and recommendations for improving your soil’s pH and nutrient levels.


Taking a soil sample for pH testing is easy:

(1) Identify the area(s) of your property you want to test: Different areas may have different pH levels, e.g., lawn vs. flower bed vs. vegetable garden. To submit different areas for testing, collect separate samples. Within a given area, if there are sections that are sickly vs. healthy, they should also be sampled and labeled separately (e.g., sickly vs. healthy sections of lawn).

(2) Gather your supplies:

  • A spade, shovel, soil probe, or augur for digging your sample(s) – a bulb digger also works great.
  • One small clean bucket for each area you plan to sample (e.g., one bucket for the lawn, a separate bucket for your flower bed)
  • One small plastic bag for each area to be sampled

(3) Dig your soil sample(s):

  • Step A: Depending on how large the area is, dig 5-10 holes approx. 6-8” deep for gardens (4-6” deep for lawns; 8-10” deep for trees/ shrubs); remove a sample of the soil all the way down to the depth of the hole; in other words, collect soil from the top, the middle and the bottom of the hole.
  • Step B: Combine all soil samples from the same area in a clean bucket. Mix thoroughly and remove stones, sticks or other debris.
  • Step C: Let the soil dry out for a few days in the bucket. 
  • Step D: Put approx. 1/2 cup of dry soil into a plastic bag. Mark the bag with your name and the area of your property where the sample was taken (e.g., lawn, rhododendron bed).
  • If you want to sample additional areas of your property, repeat Steps A-B-C-D above.

(4) Bring your sample(s) to the Ask a Master Gardener Tent for Soil pH Testing.

You will find the dates that Ask a Master Gardener are at the market on our Events page