How to Make a Soil Tester


No matter what type of soil a garden has, it's a combination of sand, organic material, clay and silt. Your soil is characterized by the amount of each component that it contains. Its most important trait, texture, is determined by the sizes of the different particles. Knowing the texture of the soil that you have to work with will make it easier for you to manage conditions for plant performance. Make your own tester to quickly to analyze your soil. While not scientifically exact, it will give you an acceptable approximation.

Step 1

Fill 1/3 of a quart jar with soil. Top it off with water and cap tightly.

Step 2

Shake the jar vigorously. Place it on a flat surface to settle where it won't be disturbed for about three days.

Step 3

Examine your testing jar. Soil components settle in layers, with organic matter floating to the top of the water. Sand particles are the heaviest and fall to the bottom first. Silt will form the next layer, topped by the clay.

Step 4

Analyze your results as percentages. Ideal texture composition is 45 percent sand, 35 percent silt and 20 percent clay. Organic matter doesn't figure into the texture equation.

Things You'll Need

  • Quart jar


  • Ryders Ranch: Soils, Composts and Mulches -- Soil Texture Tester
  • Improve Your Garden Soil: Garden Soil Wash Test
  • Garden: What Kind of Soil Do You Have?

Who Can Help

  • Clemson Univeristy: Soil Testing
Keywords: soil texture, soil tester, how to make a soil tester

About this Author

Axl J. Amistaadt began as a part-time amateur freelance writer in 1985, turned professional in 2005, and became a full-time writer in 2007. Amistaadt’s major focus is publishing material for GardenGuides. Areas of expertise include home gardening, horticulture, alternative and home remedies, pets, wildlife, handcrafts, cooking, and juvenile science experiments.