Gardening

Eau Claire County Extension offers research-based information to assist and educate the public in their gardening endeavors. Our services include assistance with plant identification, disease and insect identification, and soil testing.

Assistance by phone:

Please call the Eau Claire County Extension office at 715-839-4712 at any time.   Please leave a clearly stated phone number and a brief explanation of your gardening concern.  Your call is typically returned within one or two business days by our Horticulture Educator or a Master Gardener Volunteer.

Assistance by email:

You can email questions to Margaret at margaret.murphy@wisc.ed  or call her main office in Chippewa County at 715-726-7957.

Electronic photos are welcomed.  For plants or plant disease, include information such as the species of plant, age and/or size, growing conditions, location in yard, and a brief description of the problem.
For insects, please indicate where it was found.
Please include your name, phone number and mailing address.

In office diagnosis:

You may stop in our office from 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM with your questions or plant or insect samples. If Margaret or a Master Gardener Volunteer is not available to help you then, we will have someone get back to you ASAP, usually with a day or two. Sometimes we may need a few days to find an answer, but we will find one for you!

Home visits:

Home site visits are not performed.  Please contact a for-hire professional for on-site assistance.

Chemical Recommendations:

  • A non-chemical solution will be emphasized when appropriate and practical (which is most of the time!)
  • To minimize chemical missuse and abuse, Master Gardener Volunteers have been instructed to NOT provide chemical recommendations over the phone or electronically to the general public. When necessary, a fact sheet can be mailed to the homeowner with a variety of control recommendations.
  • To receive a chemical recommendation, samples can be delivered to the office to be examined by the Master Gardener Volunteers. Appropriate recommendations are given only once a visual diagnosis is made.

Soil Testing

Having soil problems? Need to know what to add to your soil to make things grow? Have your soil tested by the UW Soil & Forage Analysis Lab in Madison for $15 per sample.
If you’d like, you can stop by our office to pick up a soil test kit. The kit will include:

  • Soil sample bag
  • Shipping label
  • Instructions
  • Shipping options
  • Submission form

If you’d like to ship without the kit, you can use a zippered plastic bag and get the forms at the website below. The sample should be sent to UW Soil & Forage Analysis Laboratory, 4702 University Ave, Madison, WI  53705

What you will need to send sample
+ 2 cups of air dried soil
+ Samples should contain soil from surface to 6 inches deep
+ Take soil from 3 to 5 places in the area to be tested, mix together, and submit 2 cups of the mixture in a clean plastic bag.

When to sample
+ Can be done anytime the soil is not frozen
+ Best done before you apply fertilizer

What is the cost?
+ Lawn or garden Sample – $15
+ Field Sample – $8
+ Wildlife Food Plot Sample – $15

Send your payment with sample. You can pay in check or credit card

What you get in your report
+ Analysis of the current nutrient content of your soil (Potassium and Phosphorous)
+ Current soil pH
+ Recommendation of type and amount of fertilizer to add
+ Allow 1-2 weeks for return of results

Forms and instructions
Soil Testing Kit Instructions
Soil Sample Submission Form
Instructions for Submitting Samples

Helpful Information about soil sampling
Sampling Lawn and garden soils for analysis Pub A2166

If you have further inquiries, please call us at the Extension office 715-83-4712, or the UW Soil & Forage Analysis Lab at (715) 387-2523 or go to their website at https://uwlab.soils.wisc.edu/soil/ and click “Lawns and Gardens.”

Plant Identification

What we need:

  • If possible, submit the entire plant (especially for weeds), the roots may be important for identification.
  • For trees and shrubs– a branch with leaves attached.
  • Flowers and fruits are also helpful in identification.
  • Submit sample in a plastic bag, do NOT water.
  • Wrap turf in foil, do NOT water.

Disease Identification

What we need:

  • For herbaceous plants, submit the entire plant that has symptoms.
  • For woody plants, submit the branch that has symptoms (living and dead parts).
  • Submit sample in a plastic bag, do NOT add water.

In some cases, and with your permission, it is necessary to forward samples to the diagnostic laboratories (UW-Madison). There will be a $15 to $25 charge. You will be invoiced for this service.

Insect Identification

What we need:

  • If possible, submit the insect specimen, preferably alive.
  • Bring in a small jar or plastic container so it does not get squashed.
  • Detail the location it was found.

Online Resources from University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension

Planting Guide for Northern Wisconsin

The Learning Store
Wisconsin Horticulture
Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic
Insect Diagnostic Lab