A new EPA program is uncovering the gritty mysteries in your garden.


GardenSafe is a soil screening service that analyses your dirt and tells you what might be in amongst your vegetation. 


By sending EPA a soil sample from your home garden you can have the data you need at the tip of your green thumb. 


It’s part of a global initiative that helps you investigate soil health and potential contaminants in your garden so you can work out the best use for your patch of paradise.


EPA’s Chief Environmental Scientist, Professor Mark Patrick Taylor, says GardenSafe is a great way to dig a little deeper into your soil.


“If you are growing fruit and vegetables at home, you should use GardenSafe to check what is under the surface of your seedlings. The only cost to you is the postage,” Professor Taylor said.


“Our scientists assess each sample they get for trace elements and general soil quality indicators, including soil texture, composition, nutrients and organic carbon,” he said.


“As a science-based regulator we need this data.” 


“The findings from GardenSafe help us to build an understanding of potential contamination levels in residential gardens across Victoria. This information will help gardeners better understand what’s in their soil. It will also help to reduce potential risk and exposure if soil contamination is present.”


GardenSafe data will not be used for EPA compliance or enforcement activities.


“As a partnership between EPA Victoria and members of the community, GardenSafe is a great example of how we can work together, after all, the environment is everyone’s business,” he said. 


Victorians can send the GardenSafe team three soil samples from their gardens. They must be from a residential property. 


EPA scientists will analyse the samples and provide a short report detailing the results and how to interpret them. Participants can also access information on growing fruit and vegetables safely in their gardens.


Find out more about GardenSafe on the EPA website epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/get-involved/citizen-science-program/gardensafe

Reviewed 18 January 2023