How to Check Soil pH With a pH Meter

Overview

A pH meter provides a quick way to test various areas of your garden to make sure the soil's pH level is adequate for the plants you want to grow. A pH of 7 means that the soil is neutral. A pH below 7 means your soil is acidic, while above means it is alkaline. Different types of plants grow better in different pH levels. Blueberries, for instance, prefer alkaline soils, but most plants grow best in slightly acidic soil. Once you determine your soil's pH with your meter, you can amend the soil as needed for your chosen plants.

Step 1

Begin testing the soil at one corner of your garden before you begin planting. Push the probe of your pH meter 5 inches down into the soil. Watch the meter register the pH level after about a minute, and record the information in a notebook.

Step 2

Go to another corner or your garden, and again push the probe to a depth of 5 inches. Record the pH level. Test the other two corners of your garden and record the results so that you have a good idea of whether the pH level varies in your garden area.

Step 3

Check the recommended pH level for each of the plants you want to grow to see whether they are suitable for the soil. You will usually get a chart of pH recommendations for different plants with your pH meter.

Step 4

Choose plants that fit the pH level of the different areas of your garden area. Test your soil each spring so that you can note any changes and adjust your soil as needed for future planting. You can amend the soil by adding compost if your soil is too alkaline or lime if it is too acidic.

Things You'll Need

  • Notebook

References

  • Clemson University: pH Meter
  • Home Harvest: Soil Testing & pH Control
  • Clean Air Gardening: Electronic Soil Tester
  • Planet Natural: pH Meter
Keywords: testing soil pH, pH test kits, soil testing meter

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.