How to Test Soil for Nutrients


Soil pH is the number one determining factor of whether a plant will grow. pH is the accumulation of nutrients in the soil, most importantly Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Soil that has a high pH over 7.0 is considered alkaline, while soil under 7.0 is considered acidic. This pH number is a measurement of lime in the soil. The soil pH should be adjusted for the plant being grown. Without a pH test, soil balance is a shot in the dark.

Step 1

Buy a pH test from your local garden center. There are several pH test types available. For this test, we are using a powder pH test with testing vial.

Step 2

Take a sample of soil and put it into your plastic container.

Step 3

Pour water into the soil so that it is soaked. 3 parts water to one part soil is best.

Step 4

Place a sample of the soil water into the pH testing vial and place the pH test powder into the sampling vial along with it.

Step 5

Wait a few minutes for the color of the water to change. Compare the color to the pH scale on the side of the sampling vial. Do this test for each pH test that comes in your kit, one for Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous.

Things You'll Need

  • pH test
  • Plastic container
  • Shovel
  • Water


  • The Garden Helper: Acid Soil, How to Test and Adjust the pH of the Soil in Your Garden
  • Clemson Cooperative Extension: Soil Testing
  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Testing Your Soil

Who Can Help

  • You tube: How to Test Your Garden Soil
Keywords: test soil, soil pH, soil nutirents

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.