How to Measure Lawn PH Levels

Overview

Your lawn's pH can be the difference between growing healthy or ailing grass, so measuring it might be a good idea. A pH test will tell you whether your soil is acidic or alkaline and whether you need to adjust your lawn's pH by adding soil amendments like lime or sulfur. Changing pH can make a big difference to plants, which cannot properly use nutrients when pH doesn't match a particular plant's needs. Most plants like a slightly acidic soil a bit below pH 7. A pH above 7 means alkaline soil, with a 7 pH being neutral.

Step 1

Contact your county's cooperative extension office. Ask for a list of soil testing facilities. Also find out if they have cartons available to hold soil samples.

Step 2

Ask the extension agent or a representative of the testing facility for specific and proper soil collecting procedures.

Step 3

Map out the different areas of your lawn. Note areas that are on hills, midway down hills and in valleys, places where the lawn thrives and doesn't, areas that drain and don't drain. Depending on your lawn's variability, you may need more than one soil test.

Step 4

Gather the appropriate soil sample containers you need to bring your soil to the testing facility. Each sample will be about a pint's worth of soil.

Step 5

Press the tube into the soil down to the depth you've tilled your lawn, about six inches. This is your first sample.

Step 6

Dump it into a bucket.

Step 7

Take up to 10 more samples around the first site, dumping each into the bucket.

Step 8

Blend the cores to create a composite soil sample. Put the composite into the carton for the testing facility.

Step 9

Repeat this procedure at the different sites you need to test, dumping each area's cores into a clean bucket, mixing the soil, then packaging samples for delivery.

Step 10

Note where you collected the soil samples on your map so that you can test in the same places in the future.

Step 11

Deliver samples to the testing facility according to the instructions you've received.

Tips and Warnings

  • The results of home pH kits are not as reliable as those from a lab. The amount of money you spend on such kits, which can be expensive, is no indication of their accuracy, according to the Arizona Master Gardener Manual. Since potentially expensive soil amendments might need to be made on the basis of the pH results, it is best to opt for lab testing.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil sample containers/cartons, one for each area to be tested
  • Paper and pencil
  • Sampling tube/soil probe
  • Bucket
  • Hand shovel

References

  • Utah State University Cooperative Extension: FAQs About Soil Testing
  • Arizona Master Gardener Manual: Soil pH

Who Can Help

  • Utah State University Cooperative Extension: Understanding Your Soil Test Report
Keywords: lawn pH test, testing lawn pH, soil pH best way to test

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.