The nutrient level and relative acidity of your gardening soil is important to the health of your plants. A soil that has a high pH, or potential hydrogen ions, with a reading of above 7.0 is alkaline, while below 7.0 is acidic according to the Clemson University Extension. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension suggests performing a soil test every 3 to 5 years to determine whether your soil is at the right pH for your plants.
Take a sample of the soil as soon as the final frost of the year has passed.
Remove surface plants and debris such as grass and dead roots. Sample down to a depth of 6 to 8 inches for shrub and flower beds, 3 inches for turf and 8 to 12 inches for tree areas.
Dry the samples at room temperature without using heating devices. Break up and lumps and remove stones.
Mix all the samples together inside a plastic container and make sure the soil is smooth and free of debris.
Mix the soil sample with tepid water until it is a brown liquid. Use distilled water to prevent the water from changing the pH of the soil.
Place the soil sample into the pH testing tube and add a few drops of the testing solution into the tube as instructed by the pH test manual.
Compare the color of the liquid inside the pH kit to the pH chart included with it to determine the acidity of the soil.