Household Method to Test Lawn Soil PH


Soil pH affects the availability of nutrients to plants and lawns. High and low pH levels can hinder the ability of roots to absorb phosphorus and important micronutrients. If you determine whether your soil is acidic or alkaline, you can decide what types of plants to install. For existing lawns and plants, you can determine which types of fertilizers may been needed. Purchase a soil pH meter online or from a garden center. Many have a digital display.

Step 1

Chose a 6-inch square area and dig out the sod, if present, with a trowel. Dig out an additional 2 inches of soil. Insert the trowel into the ground and dig through an additional 4 to 5 inches of soil. Work the soil until it is loose and crumbling.

Step 2

Remove any rocks or other debris from the soil in the test area. Using a small container, poor about 2 cups of water over the loose soil to form a muddy consistency.

Step 3

With the cleaning pad you purchased with the meter, wipe the metal meter probe from the top down to remove any dirt or foreign minerals that may affect the reading. Do not wipe the bullet-shaped tip. Wipe the probe from the top down with a cotton ball or sheet of toilet paper

Step 4

Grasp the top of the meter and push the probe gently into the soil until it reaches a depth of 4 to 5 inches. Gently twist the probe counterclockwise one turn. Gently twist the probe clockwise clockwise another full turn.

Step 5

Wait about 60 seconds. Look at the display window on the meter and record the number indicated.

Things You'll Need

  • Trowel or small shovel
  • 16-oz. container of rainwater or distilled water
  • Soil pH meter
  • Cleaning pad
  • Cotton ball or sheet of toilet paper


  • Clemson University Manuals: Soil pH Meter
  • Plant Natural: Rapitest pH Meter Instructions

Who Can Help

  • Rapitest Plant pH Preference List
Keywords: soil pH test, home soil test, testing lawn pH

About this Author

Aaron Painter began as a garden writer in 1999, publishing in "Louisiana Gardener" and "Baton Rouge House and Home" magazines. He has more than 10 years of professional experience in landscaping and horticulture and six years in broadcast journalism. Painter holds a B.A. in mass communication and horticulture from LSU, and now lives in Nashville, Tenn.