How to Test Soil PH at Home

Overview

A soil pH test measures the acidity and alkalinity of soil. Soil pH can affect your plants' health and whether they are getting proper nutrient levels. A pH value of 7 is considered neutral. A pH below 7 represents acidity and above represents alkalinity. Each plant requires a different pH level for proper growth. It's important to know the optimal pH level for your plants before taking a soil test, which will help you figure out if you need to adjust the soil.

Step 1

Dig into the soil with the spade to a depth of 3 inches for annual and house plants, or 4 inches for vegetables, perennials or fruit plants. Take a soil sample at that depth and place it in a clean container without touching it with your hands.

Step 2

Take a few samples from different parts of your garden area to test if the pH is consistent. Place each sample in a separate container.

Step 3

Break up the soil in each container with your spade. Remove any stones, roots, weeds or grass from your sample.

Step 4

Remove the lid from your soil tester, and fill it with one of your samples until it reaches the soil fill line on your tester.

Step 5

Open one of the capsules that came with your tester, and pour the powder over the soil. Use a dropper to fill the tester with water up to the water fill line.

Step 6

Secure the lid back in place, and shake the tester several times to mix it well. The soil will settle once you stop, and begin to change color.

Step 7

Take the color chart that came with the tester and find the color that best matches the change in the soil to find the pH. Repeat the process with all your samples.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Containers

References

  • Lusterleaf: Using a Soil Test Kit
  • Bluegrass Gardens: pH Soil Test
  • University of Florida: Soil pH and the Home Landscape or Garden
Keywords: pH level in plants, testing pH, changing pH levels

About this Author

Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for more than 15 years. Coe has worked on environmental health and safety issues in communities across Ohio and Michigan. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University. She has also received training and experience as a nurse aide.