Soil testing #869583

Asked May 22, 2024, 10:02 AM EDT

Need info re soil test for a patch of land I’d like to convert toa native/pollinator garden. Believe there have been pesticides applied and would like to understand how to amend soil in Oder for healthy plants to furnish. Please recommend a soil test.

Oakland County Michigan

Expert Response

I have a few additional questions before I can properly answer your question: 

Was this agricultural land previously? How long ago? 

What is growing there currently? 

About how large of a parcel is this?

Thank you for contacting Ask Extension! Replied May 23, 2024, 11:17 AM EDT
Thanks.  Here is what we know about our little plot.

Not agricultural.  Neighborhood here since 1950s.

70’ L x 15’ W.  Located between a suburban street and sidewalk in Royal Oak.  

Neighbors removed a large dead tree and at least part of its root system (we think used pesticide of some sort as there is a large, mostly bare circle of earth there ca 2’ x 2’). 

Quick plot survey:

  trees:    1 lg Basswood, 1 Catalpa, 1 Japanese Yew, 3 Mulberry, 1 Schumard  Oak

   Plants:  American pokeweed; Honeysuckle … could not get exact ID;  Burdock…removed as much as we could ;  Common Wintercress….intend to remove as identified as invasive;  Eastern Woodland Sedge;  Mullein….to be removed;  Canadian Goldenrod or Golden Alexander; Common Evening Primrose; Yellow Trout Lily, St John’s Wart; Snowberry; Yellow Avens.   This is not a complete list and we are wondering if someone tried to do some pollinator/butterfly type garden in the past.

Any advice regarding soil testing, etc.  (e.g.  how to amend bare patch to ameliorate effect of chemical treatment) would be much appreciated.

Sorry for response delay … family HS  graduations took us to AZ.

Thanks for your help.

On Thu, May 23, 2024 at 08:17 Ask Extension <<personal data hidden>> wrote:
The Question Asker Replied May 28, 2024, 10:41 AM EDT

Thank you for the additional details! Do you know how long ago the tree was removed? Are the neighbors who removed it still around so you can ask what they did? If it's been a couple of years, it's likely that plants will grow there again and the chemicals used are likely broken down. If plants don't grow, they may have used salts to break down the stump, which will leave the soil contaminated with salt. If you are concerned about any residues or salts, you could remove the top 6 inches of soil in the 2 x 2 area and replace with topsoil or a mix of topsoil and compost. You can test for pesticide residues, but that is pretty expensive, and the lab needs to have a pretty good idea of what they are looking for or they can miss the product used. For example, if they are looking for herbicide residue, they may not detect high salinity. 

If you would like to test the soil for nutrients, you can use our Home Lawn & Garden Soil Test Mailer.

For more information on soil testing:

For soil testing for contaminants, including labs that do testing:


Thank you for contacting Ask Extension! Replied May 28, 2024, 5:36 PM EDT

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