How to select and submit a home lawn sample.

1. Collect the Sample

Samples selected from residential lawns (high cut turf) should be approximately 6 inches long by 6 inches wide and 2-3 inches deep.  Collect multiple samples (using shovels, spades, or knives) of healthy and affected turf to provide for comparison.

2. Complete the Diagnostic Turfgrass Form

Complete and accurate information provides for a complete and accurate diagnosis.  The turfgrass sample form should be completed with as much detail as possible and should include information regarding:

  • Environment factors

  • Weather data (temperatures and rain fall)

  • Turf users 

  • Symptoms

  • Shape and size of the patches

  • Size  (or percentage) of affected area

  • Date the problem was first noticed

  • Type of irrigation used 

  • Chemicals applied (rate and formulation)

  • Growth regulators used 

Sending pictures of the problem area is highly recommended.  Place the photos and the form in a plastic bag to prevent moisture damage.  Place the bag on top of the sample material.

3. Packaging

Sample packaging has a significant impact on the condition of the sample upon arrival.  Samples damaged in transit may be difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose properly. 
Wrap your sample tightly in aluminum foil or newspaper.  This will prevent the soil (root zone material) from dislodging and getting on the leaves.  Soil covering the leaves makes diagnosis difficult and can cause contamination with other microbes that might be in the soil. 
Do not add water to the sample, and do not put the sample in a plastic bag.  If samples are too wet, the turf will decompose and make diagnosis impossible. 
Choose a sturdy box, and pack newspaper or bubble wrap around the sample so that it will not break apart by moving around inside of the box.  Seal the box tightly.

4. Shipping

The sample should be shipped overnight to ensure that a fresh, representative sample arrives for diagnosis and not a sample in a decomposed state. 
Sample deliveries are accepted Monday through Friday.  Do not ship on Friday to avoid having the sample warehoused until delivery on Monday.
Following these steps can help the diagnostician to correctly diagnose the problem and to provide an accurate, prompt response.