Simple Soils Testing For Home & Garden





Hand Soil Test

Testing your soil by hand is a simple process and involves no special skills or equipment. Pick up a handful of soil and feel it. Rub it between your fingers. If the soil feels rough and grainy, it is sand. If the soil is sticky, it is clay. If the soil feels slippery with small gravel pieces, it is silt.
Form a clump with the soil sample, and then try to crumble it. The ability of the sample to crumble will determine its type.


Jar Soil Test


Supplies You Will Need:

1 quart jar with lid
½ quart soil sample

1 tsp. liquid dish soap

Masking tape
clean water
a ruler

The jar test may take three to four days to complete.

You will need a quart jar or larger. Add two inches of soil to the jar and fill 2/3 of the way with water. Mix in 1 tsp. of liquid dish soap seal. Shake the mixture. Wait for one minute and allow the soil to settle. First, measure the bottom layer. This is the sand layer. After waiting for two hours, you may measure the middle layer, the silt. To measure the clay layer, you must let the jar sit for several days, then measure. Whichever layer is the largest is the majority of your soil type. {Place a piece of masking tape vertically from top of jar to bottom of jar to measure thickness of each layer of soil.}


 For more thorough soils testing contact Colorado State University at:

Soil and Crop Sciences Department & Coordinating with CSU Extension

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
(970) 491-5061(office)
(970) 491-2930(fax)


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