How to Test the PH of Garden Soil Using PH Paper


The pH of your soil can have drastic effects on your plants' health and ability to grow. Some plants, trees and shrubs are more sensitive to soil pH than others, but most have pH-range requirements in order to grow well. The pH of your soil can also dictate what types of plants or trees you're able to plant in your garden or lawn. You can determine the pH of your soil using a simple pH test kit with pH paper strips.

Step 1

Place the strip of pH indicator paper in the bottom of a clean plastic cup. Place a small coffee filter on top of the pH indicator strip.

Step 2

Collect soil samples from different areas of your garden or lawn. Combine them into a single sample. Place the soil sample into the plastic cup, on top of the coffee filter.

Step 3

Pour into the cup a small amount of distilled water, so that you moisten the soil sample without soaking the soil. Let this sit for five minutes to allow the water to drain through the soil and coffee filter until it reaches the pH indicator paper.

Step 4

Dump out the contents of the plastic cup to retrieve the pH indicator paper. Compare the indicator paper to the color chart that came with your pH indicator kit. Match up the colors to find the pH of your soil sample.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never use water straight from the tap or non-distilled bottled water for your soil test, because the properties in the water will alter the pH test results. Always use distilled water. If you don't want to purchase bottled distilled water, simply boil some tap water and let it cool.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic cup
  • pH indicator test kit with color chart and test papers
  • Coffee filter
  • Soil sample
  • Distilled water


  • Health Treasures: Testing Soil pH

Who Can Help

  • Bluegrass Gardens: Could Your Garden Pass a pH Soil Test?
Keywords: test soil pH, pH paper test soil, garden soil pH

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.