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Knowing what is in the soil around your home and garden can have a big impact on both your family’s health and your landscaping efforts. Whether you’re considering a renovation project, digging for a well, or simply adding new plantings around your home, having the soil tested 1 can alert you to possible problems. Considering the costs of dealing with problems (like an infected water supply) if soil issues go untreated, it is well worth the cost of these basic tests.
On average, homeowners spend between $700 and $1,800 for soil testing, with most homeowners spending around $1,200 for a pH level test along with pesticide residue, heavy metal, and industrial chemicals. On the low end, a homeowner may choose to test for pH levels only and spend around $400. On the higher end, testing could be done for all harmful contaminants, pH levels, petroleum products, and solvents, as well as soil shifting factors for $5,000.
|Soil Test Prices|
|National average cost||$1,200|
Checking your soil for contaminants can be as simple as checking the pH levels, or as complicated as determining whether your soil can support your proposed construction project. The degree of testing you administer will depend on the reasons you are doing it, and how much information you need to gather. The more comprehensive the analysis, the more expensive the testing will be.
|Soil Test Type||Average Cost|
|Turf Soil Testing||$20 - $100|
|Sulfur and Boron Testing||$25 - $100|
|A La Carte Services||$30 - $50|
|Soil Texture||$35 - $75|
|Gravity Testing||$50 - $80|
|Fertility Testing||$50 - $300|
|Haney||$55 - $65|
|Heavy Metal Screening||$70 - $200|
|NPK Soil test||$80 - $100|
|Compaction||$100 - $125|
|Percolation||$100 - $1,000|
|Basic Profile||$270 - $300|
|Oil Tank Soil Testing||$500 - $550|
|Advanced Profile||$500 - $570|
|Composition||$600 - $675|
|Boring (15 Feet Deep)||$1,000 - $1,200|
Turf soil sampling cost is $20 to $100. Turf, also known as grass, needs the proper conditions to thrive. Homeowners can spend thousands of dollars replacing a lawn that repeatedly dies because of soil issues. Even grass that appears nice and green may develop problems if ingredients are missing from the soil in which it is planted. A healthy environment for grass ensures that it can stand up under drought, insects, disease, and cold weather conditions.
The average cost for this testing is $25 to $100. Sulfur and boron testing detects deficiencies in soil nutrients. The proper amounts of sulfur and boron are needed for crops to grow. Correcting an inadequate amount of sulfur and boron allows farmers to fix the problem before plants are impacted. Plants subjected to low sulfur and boron produce significantly smaller vegetation, stunted stem, and harvest less herbage.
The cost of a la carte soil testing 1 averages $30 to $50. A la carte soil testing is used to determine specific components found in the soil. These are single tests that look for contaminants such as lead, pesticides, or E. coli. These tests are used when a specific contagion is suspected and in areas where older homes are located. Historic area soil can contain substances that were not always known to be harmful and could include oils, petroleum, solvents, or industrial chemicals. These tests are called a la carte because the homeowner can choose test items.
The soil ribbon test usually costs about $35 to $75 to test the texture of the soil. Soil texture testing determines the type of soil present (sand, clay, etc.). This simple test helps with knowing what to mix with your soil before planting. Soil texture is vital as many plants won’t grow in certain soils. It is a similar test to the composition test, but the soil texture test is less extensive and would not be used for construction purposes.
The price for the specific gravity of soil test averages $50 to $80. Gravity soil testing is figured by the ratio of the unit weight of soil solids to water. The results show how much water your soil can hold. This is a vital part of the growth process. Too much or too little water can kill entire crops. In terms of building, soil that holds too much water shifts and creates foundation problems. Soil that is too dry may also move over time, causing cracks in the home’s base.
Fertility testing costs average $50 to $300. Soil fertility testing is useful for determining the growing capabilities of the soil. The outcome will be a comprehensive report on the chemicals and minerals found within the soil (nitrates, potassium, phosphorus, etc.) Farmers use this testing to see which plants will prosper and prepare the soil for a better harvest.
The cost of the Haney soil test is $55 to $65. Farmers use the Haney soil test to learn about the overall health of the soil. It is also often a deciding factor in crop management. This method is popular because it gives information on what should be done to improve the soil for maximum growth potential.
This test usually costs $70 to 200. The excessive presence of heavy metals in the soil, such as lead, arsenic, copper, zinc, cadmium, chromium, nickel, selenium, and more, affect the health and wellbeing of your family or plants. These tests specify which heavy metals are in the soil so that proper measures can be taken to decrease levels to a safer amount. This can be a problem in older areas or residential subdivisions where commercial work was previously done.
The cost of an NPK soil test is $80 to $100. An NPK soil test tells you exactly what type of fertilizer your grass or plants need. It identifies the lack of nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium, thus pointing you to the feed it requires. Once you have that information, your grass or garden should flourish!
The soil compaction test costs about $100 to $125 per testing location. The number of locations will depend on the size of the property and if there are different areas with multiple types of soil. For a small lot, ¼ of an acre, with the same type of soil throughout the property, only one test would be required. A soil compaction test is done to check the moisture content of the soil, search for air-pockets, and find the density of the soil. Once the test is done, the results help the builder determine what should be done to make the soil as compact as necessary so the home will not shift or the foundation crack. Repairing problems with air-pockets within the soil also prevents frost damage and improves ground stability throughout the property.
It can be as simple and cheap as $100 or cost up to $1,000. A soil percolation or perc test is used to determine the best location for a well or septic system. It measures the time it takes for water to penetrate (or percolate) into the soil. The test is done by digging a hole, filling it with water, and calculating how long it takes for the water to absorb into the soil. Before starting construction, the test may be performed in several areas.
A basic soil profile test can cost $270 to $300. It is used to determine the soil profile from the ground to the rock bed beneath. Basic soil profile testing reveals the soil’s characteristics. It offers an overview of organic matter and substances like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, iron, or copper. It doesn’t include any information concerning factors such as toxins or pollutants that could harm you and your family.
The cost of soil testing for oil contamination is $500 to $550. When an oil tank is buried in the ground, it is essential to make certain there is no leakage into the ground surrounding it. This type of problem can lead to cancer and other issues if left untreated. Oil tank soil testing involves taking samples from the entire perimeter of the tank as if it is leaking in one area and not in another.
The cost for this test is $500 to $570. An advanced profile test determines both the structure of the soil and its components (including fertility). It analyzes a wide variety of soil contaminants such as arsenic, copper, lead, mercury, zinc, soil acidity, and other substances tested in basic profile tests. It is a complete look at the soil makeup in preparing land for construction and/or farming. An advanced profile test is essential when poisonous or harmful substances are suspected.
The soil composition test costs $600 to $675. A soil composition test is used to determine the type of soil for constructing a building or home. There are three soil compositions: clay, sandy, or loamy. Clay tends to expand and is slow draining. Sandy soil drains quickly, which is a problem as it dries out and cannot retain nutrients. Loamy soil is the perfect combination as it drains properly and holds in just the right amount of minerals to stay strong and hold up. Once the test is completed, the builder can determine the right course of action to add fill dirt and modify the soil composition.
This test can be expensive, depending on how many borings need to be done and how deep. Borings start at 15 feet. It costs $1,000 to $1,200 for two borings. Soil boring is done in situations where the ground is very sandy, consists of clay that expands, or extremely wet soil. These types of foundations can create shifting and cracking when a home is built on it. Builders or owners can be held liable for homes that later sink or move. A soil boring test is a good preventative. Typically, a 15-foot boring is done in two places on the property, but it may require more based on the findings. When the analysis is done, it will help determine many factors, including what kind of foundation should be used, how much drainage is required, where groundwater will be directed, what fill dirt should be added, and more.
The soil analysis 1 cost is the part of the test completed by the laboratory. There are many different types of soil analysis labs throughout the country, and some specialize in certain types of service or particular regions. For our purposes here, the pricing given in the table will be for the basic soil testing required, including Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, pH, Buffer pH, Acidity, CEC, Base saturation, Organic matter, ENR, Sodium, Sulfate-Sulfur, Boron, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, and Copper. The advanced soil testing will include everything in the basic profile, as well as nitrate and ammonium.
|Brand||Average Cost Basic Soil Testing (Lab Only)||Average Cost Advanced Soil Testing (Lab Only)|
The basic soil test at Waypoint costs $17.50. The advanced profile is $21, excluding ammonium (not available). Waypoint specializes in a myriad of soil testing 1 in the agricultural, home and landscape, and environmental areas. Homeowners and landscapers can request analysis for soil, turf and garden, and sewer or drainage construction. Farmers use Waypoint to determine safety regulations and soil issues or management. The company has locations in Memphis, TN, Atlantic, IA, Champaign, IL, Wilson, NC, Richmond, VA, Leola, PA, Anaheim, CA, and Mulberry, FL.
The average cost for a basic soil test with Ward Lab is $22.25. Advanced profile testing is $34. Started in 1983, Ward Lab offers various testing, including soil, feed, water, plant, and manure 2 analysis in Kearney, Kansas. Despite its location, the company does testing analysis throughout North America and Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The organization also boasts of many proficiency areas, including Agricultural Laboratory Proficiency (Soil, Water, Plant), National Forage Testing Association, North American Proficiency Testing Program (Soil, Water, Plant), and more.
The average cost for basic soil testing with Logan Labs is only $25, while advanced testing is $55. Logan Labs is located in Lakeview, Ohio. They provide analytical services and consulting for various aspects of agricultural needs. Turnaround time for test results is three to four days. The company is a member of the North America Proficiency Testing Program.
For a basic soil test, Midwest charges $26.50 and $40 for the advanced profile testing. Since 1975, Midwest Labs has offered lab soil testing in Omaha, Nebraska. Midwest performs testing analysis in the commercial field for biological and chemical needs. The scope of work that Midwest performs is in various areas, including agricultural production, municipal water quality, transactions for real estate, and more.
Soil testing isn’t something most homeowners consider. But it is an essential step before beginning any major project that requires digging. Here are just a few examples of situations when soil testing is necessary:
|Purpose||Type of Test Required||Cost|
|Heavy Metals||Heavy Metal||$70 - $200|
|Drilling a Well||Percolation||$100 - $1,000|
$100 - $1,000
$600 - $675
$270 - $300
$500 - $570
|Gardening||Advanced Profile||$500 - $570|
|Adding an Inground Pool|
$500 - $570
$600 - $675
The ground is full of natural minerals and heavy metals. But sometimes, the levels of certain heavy metals can be dangerous to humans–especially if they were left behind by manufacturing or farming. Lead and mercury are two heavy metals that have been linked to developmental problems in children, making it very important to find out if levels are too high before you build. Other metals which may be present in your soil include arsenic (common in old orchards), zinc, copper, and even vehicle exhaust (if your property is close to a major roadway). The good news is that most heavy metals are only present in the first two inches of soil, so it is often relatively easy to fix the problem. The type of testing done for heavy metals costs $70 to $200.
Any chemicals, minerals, or pesticides found in the soil can leach into well water, making your family sick. Even nearby runoff filled with E. coli that doesn’t directly enter the well area can be a danger. Information gathered during the testing process can also help you find the best location for your well (and septic system), as well as help identify drainage issues. This requires a percolation test, and the cost is $100 to $1,000.
Any time a foundation is laid, the soil should be tested for contaminants and to see if the ground is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the project. A quality analysis tells your engineer what type of soil he is dealing with, its density and compaction, and whether it is strong enough to support the proposed construction. Generally, a boring or geotechnical survey is done for this type of soil testing at $100 to $1,000 or a soil composition test at $600 to $675. This can help them figure out the best kind of foundation to build. Additionally, testing for toxins is vital, especially when industrial land has been converted to residential land or in older areas. This requires a basic soil test and costs $270 to $300 or even an advanced soil test at the cost of $500 to $570.
It does not matter whether you are planning a family garden or adding an orchard to your property, it is always a good idea to test the soil for possible chemicals (pesticides), heavy metals, bacteria (like E. coli), and more. In addition, soil testing can alert you to problems in the soil which may make it difficult to grow the plants you want. Once you know what is in your soil, you, and your landscaper, can make the necessary adjustments to make sure that it is ready for your favorite plants. An advanced profile test should be done at the cost of $500 to $570.
Testing the soil before digging for that new pool is essential to ensure that the ground is sturdy enough and that no bad elements will find their way into the family swimming hole. For an advanced soil test to check for toxins, expect to pay $500 to $570. It may also be necessary to do a soil composition test to determine if anything needs to be added to the existing soil. The cost of testing for new pool construction is about $1,000 to $1,200.
So, what type of soil profesional should you hire to handle testing? That depends on why you are having your soil tested in the first place. If you simply want an overview of the ground where you plan to add a garden or other plantings, a landscaper may be able to handle the job. But, if you are planning a bigger project (like a home addition, well, septic system, etc.), you may need a soil engineer, otherwise known as a geotechnical engineer, to determine the characteristics and mechanics of the soil. This will pinpoint what type of foundation to build and whether or not soil conditions pose any risks to the building project or the people involved.
Hiring a soil engineer to come out to your site for an inspection can cost $3000 to $5000, in addition to the price of the actual test performed. This fee usually includes the final report, and can vary depending on the location and size of the property being studied.
If soil is contaminated, there are ways to remove or immobilize the toxins. Soil remediation allows for the soil to be re-energized and purified. Of course, this will need to be performed by a professional who understands the science behind the remediation. There are five basic ways to remediate soil:
|Remediation Type||Average Cost per Cubic Yard|
|Bioremediation||$20 - $80|
|Thermal Desorption||$40 - $232|
|Soil Stabilization||$40 - $250|
|Soil Washing||$53 - $142|
|Soil Excavation||$182 - $310|
The cost of bioremediation is $20 to $80 per cubic yard. Bioremediation is used when organic contaminants, such as solvents, wood preservatives, or petroleum, are in the soil. Microorganisms are used to change the make-up of the toxins to a harmless product. This is used to treat fungus, bacteria, or other issues.
The cost for this procedure is $40 to $232 per cubic yard. Heat is the key ingredient in thermal desorption remediation separation systems. When applied to a toxin, it enables it to be separated and then removed from the soil. Thermal desorption has limited use and is most effective on VOCs and fuels or SVOCs, PAHs, PCBs, and pesticides, depending on if it is a high or low temperature application.
Soil stabilization costs $40 to $250 per cubic yard. Physical and chemical means are used to trap contaminants within the soil and stabilize them. To ensure that the toxins are immobilized, leachability testing is done as well. This is because some of the contaminants may still be present in the soil as they may have leached into it. The target to stabilize is usually inorganics, but it depends on the system used.
The cost of soil washing is $53 to $142 per cubic yard. Soil washing is a remediation method where a chemical additive is used to clean the soil and then removed. It requires six different steps: pretreatment, separation, coarse-grained treatment, fine-grained treatment, process water treatment, and residuals management. The soil is then used as a backfill on a project. It is an EPA approved technique to remove organic and inorganic contaminants.
Soil excavation is typically a large project removal and is priced at $182 to $310 per cubic yard. Soil excavation involves the removal and relocation of contaminants to a safer site. It encompasses a wide range of toxins. The contaminants are either moved off-site for treatment or to a confined disposal facility.
Soil is found in a variety of types. The type of soil you are dealing with can have a big impact on how well plants grow and what type of construction can be safely completed on it. When scientists and engineers test the soil before a project, they are looking for several things:
Knowing what your soil expert is looking for (and why) will help you better understand the final report he submits following soil testing.
Reading a scientific soil report isn’t always easy without help. Depending on your reasons for having the tests done (and how many tests were completed), the report can be as short as a single page (for a simple lead 2 test) to dozens of pages (for a complete report that studies every aspect of the soil on your property). Most reports, however, run about 5-12 pages. In most cases, your soil expert will give you a detailed lab report, along with a summary that he creates, outlining problem areas, and giving you the highlights of the report in a more readable (and understandable) manner. This, of course, is included in the price of the testing.
In most cases, the report will be broken down into areas, offering results for individual tests. For instance, if you had an advanced test done, it would include a section outlining the composition of the soil and also a section which lists any contaminants found (and at what levels). Both micro- and macro-nutrients will be listed here, including such important ones as nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium. There should also be a section which highlights the pH level of the soil since this is very important when it comes to growing plants.
While your soil expert should do his best to make this final report as easy as possible to read, there still may be a lot of scientific lingo in it that you find hard to understand. Be sure to ask plenty of questions and have your soil engineer go over the report in detail with you so you know exactly what it says. Expect to get your results within 5-10 business days of samples being taken. Additionally, the soil expert can give recommendations on what can be done to improve the situation.
For two soil boring tests at 15 feet of boring with a geotechnical report, the cost is $1,000 to $1,200. A geotechnical survey is a test done in areas where building is planned. The testing is done to determine what changes or improvements should be made to build safely. If an area is prone to sinkholes, earthquakes, is the wrong type of soil, or requires special foundational safety regulations, a geotechnical survey will be completed. An engineer completes the survey, and then the report is done by lab analysis. We discussed soil boring in a previous section. This is the process for the survey results. Boring is done in sections of 15 to 20 feet deeper.
There are a lot of good reasons to have the soil tested on your property before taking the time and money to start a construction project or even plant a garden. Depending on the size of the construction project, the local municipality may require soil testing before any permits or licenses are approved.
Soil testing will help you keep your family safe. If you have a well, it is vital that you have your soil tested at least once a year to ensure that the water is safe, and remains that way. All kinds of nasty things can leach into the groundwater and contaminate your well. This includes dangerous chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, and bacteria. Finding problems before you start any type of construction project will ultimately save you money. Trying to install an inground pool or build a two-story deck on soil that can not sustain it will only end up with you needing to redo (or even scrap entirely) parts of the project, and paying big bucks for it.
Finding the best place to drill a well or install a sewer system takes a certain amount of knowledge. So does installing an inground pool or building an addition onto your home. Understanding the makeup of the soil on the property can help to find the best locations for any addition.
Testing your soil can also help you choose the best garden plants. Different kinds of plants thrive in different environments. The same is true for the soil it is planted in. Trying to grow some flowers, bushes, or trees in certain kinds of soil will result in failure. Once you know what type of soil you have to work with, your landscape professional can help you choose the perfect plants to adorn your property. Something as simple as a pH level that is off can affect how well your garden grows. Make it thrive by giving your plants the best mix of minerals. This means knowing what is in your soil and finding ways to alter its composition if needed.
While the benefits of soil testing 1 are plentiful, there are some disadvantages to the process that homeowners need to be aware of before starting the process. For one, it can be pricey, depending on what types of tests you run. While the average soil tests run about $1,000, the process can run several thousands if you find yourself in need of more in-depth reports, or if multiple tests need to be run.
More extensive tests can also be confusing and may require an expert to explain the results. Plus, unless you run the right tests, the results could be unclear, or even wrong. For instance, a simple pH test may come back just fine, yet your garden continues to wither. The reasons could be that you tested for the wrong thing. Or you did not test enough things, which could result in a false positive. This is common when testing groundwater. For instance, you may get a positive result for trace minerals in the groundwater simply because you failed to test for nitrates. Depending on the results, it may also be necessary to retest certain areas, which increases the overall cost of the project.
Weather conditions impact soil test results, so they should be conducted during a dry time. If you are hoping to use the results to improve your gardening area, though, you may want to do the test in the early spring or fall. This will give you time to make the necessary adjustments and improvements to the soil before planting season arrives.
Soil testing that requires a soil engineer for construction in high concern areas may require additional testing throughout the building of the home. This is to make certain that nothing changes in the compaction or the stability of the soil during the building process.
An analysis lab compiles all soil test results and recommendations. As some technical wording can be difficult to understand, an interpretation should be received with the report. If none is given, you should request one as it should be included in the pricing. Recommendations are an important part of the soil test results so that the next steps are apparent. There may be an extra cost of $10 to $20 per test.
Getting your soil samples evaluated usually takes about two weeks when working through a local college or university. While this is often the cheapest way to get the results you are after, if time is of the essence, you may want to send the samples out to a private laboratory. They can often email you results within 2-5 business days. Of course, this may cost $30 to $100 more.
A soil pH adjustment may be required if there are missing minerals such as calcium, lime, gypsum, and potassium. To correct the acidity or alkaline of soil, you may need to add limestone or sulfur fertilizer. A fertilizer company can help you determine what is needed and apply it to reach the proper levels. The cost for this $30 to $40 a month.
Testing water is an essential part of keeping your family safe. Water can be infected with bacteria, toxins, or other harmful substances that can result in illnesses. Water testing costs $30 to $200. If an excessive amount of contaminants in your water, you may need a water filtration system that costs $75 to $5,000.
Soil testing is needed before building a new home or adding larger projects such as a sewer system or an inground pool. Also, soil testing helps when planting a vegetable or fruit garden as the soil needs to be safe for growing these items. If you live in an older area, testing the soil is wise as there may be contaminants from the past buried in the soil.
A basic soil test runs about $400, but if you need to bore from the surface to the rock bed beneath, the cost can rise to $2,000 or more.
Most soil tests can be completed in a few hours. If large machinery must be brought in to dig multiple holes throughout the property, the entire process can take 1-2 days.
A more complicated endeavor, the cost of a soil compaction review costs about $100 per location for the drilling; $50 per lift for the soil sample; and $50 per hour in engineering fees.
Loamy soil is a combination of sand and clay, which makes it more preferable for construction projects.
A full-blown soil investigation costs between $2,000 and $5,000. The average soil testing runs around $1,100.
Soil tests can tell you just about anything you need to know about the ground on your property: what chemicals are found there, nutrient deficiencies, mineral compounds, the type of soil, level of contamination, the ability to build safely, and more.
Simple garden tests can be purchased at your local home improvement store for about $10-$30 each. More sophisticated tests can be purchased from a soil engineer, local college or university extension service, or private testing company for $50-$300 each.
There are a variety of ways to test the soil around your home. Basic tests explain how to dig up the appropriate soil and mail in the sample, but, for the best results, it is always best to hire a professional to come in and take the samples. This may involve digging small holes in your yard and removing a cup or so of soil, or drilling larger ones using specialty equipment.
It depends on the amount of soil as well as how badly it is contaminated. Soil remediation may only take a few days, or it could turn into weeks or months.