How to Sample

Lots of things to consider!

How big is your garden?
Is vegetation dying back?
Is the soil potentially unfertile?
Are you unsure what to grow?
Does the garden soil have any staining or smells?
Should you try Soil Check Fertile Soil?

Well if any of the queries above ring true, it would seem a reasonable idea to target those areas. If you have a general interest or concern for a wider area Soil Check recommend a composite sample of the area in question.
1Where to sample
Soil Check recommend a composite sample in most cases. The way to gather the composite sample would be to pick three or more locations across a flower bed or allotment and to dig down (using stainless steel tools if you have them) to perhaps 5-10cm where the ground has a bit of moisture. Then take a bit from each of the locations and mix together at the surface and then put this combined material into the jar.

If you are particularly worried about one spot or a particular layer of soil in your garden where there is staining, or die back for instance, you can just as easily sample that one area rather than take a composite. You can also take more than one sample; just remember where you took them from.

2Wear clean gloves
If you have them, wear nitrile/latex gloves or if not clean gardening gloves. If you don't have any gloves be careful with those fingers! The main thing is that you do not want things that are not part of the soil getting into the sample. Don't have oils, lotions, polishes or moisturisers on your hands. Whatever you sample will need to be as clean as possible as the testing machines are super sensitive. Remember, this is science!
3Use clean tools
If you use tools to dig locations, these should be clean stainless steel where possible. If not, try to loosen soil and then take the sample from within the general mass, rather than at the edge where a tool may have touched it. Obviously, if your tools have oil etc. on them, this may get into the sample giving a false result so avoid this at all costs!
4Keep notes
Keep notes of where you sample and maybe take some pictures to compare with later. If you get a result you do not expect, it may be possible to trace the source of the contamination.
5Take sensible samples
Make sure what you sample is representative of the soil you have. Don't put pieces of metal (such as a screw from fencing) or lumps of charcoal or tarmac in there (you don't want them in your soil so remove them, you don’t need the lab results to show you growing in tarmac is bad!!).