Homemade Soil Tests


Whether you are planting your own garden, landscaping around the home, growing flowers or just maintaining your lawn; doing a soil test is helpful. Some plants, as well as lawn grasses, do better in an acidic soil, while others might prefer a more alkaline or base soil. Knowing what you have before you start, will allow you the chance to adjust the soil so that your plants will thrive. There is a simple way to test the soil for this without buying a testing kit.

Step 1

Dig down several inches in the ground to where the bottom of the plant and roots will be feeding.

Step 2

Scoop out roughly 2 cups of soil with a hand trowel and divide it between 2 glass bowls.

Step 3

Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar into one glass bowl and observe. If you see the soil bubble, then it is an alkaline soil. The more it bubbles the stronger the alkaline make up of the soil. If it just bubbles a little, it will be closer to neutral.

Step 4

Pour 1/2 cup of water in the other glass bowl filled with dirt if you received no reaction from the vinegar test.

Step 5

Mix the water and soil together then sprinkle with a 1/2 cut baking soda. If the soil bubbles, then it is acidic. The more it bubbles, the stronger the acid content.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 glass bowls Water Hand trowel Soil Baking soda Vinegar


  • Screech Owl: Soil Science: Testing pH
  • Iowa State University Extension: Take a Good Soil Sample to Help Make Good Decisions
  • National Gardening Association: Soil Common Sense
  • This Old House: 10 Uses for Vinegar
Keywords: homemade soil test, soil test, garden soil test