Your soil’s pH is important to your plants, since plants have a preferred pH range in which they will thrive. Knowing the acidity of your soil can help you to determine what plants will thrive or if you need to amend the soil to grow the plants you want. While you can send a soil sample to a laboratory for testing, it’s also possible to test your soil yourself to find the acidity level.
Know pH Basics
When you use pH test strips to check your soil, you’ll get a number that represents the pH level of the sample. This is a measure of how acid or alkaline the soil is. A pH of 7 is neutral; anything lower than that is acidic and anything higher than that is alkaline.
Testing Your Soil
To test your soil, you’ll need to collect a good sample, add water and then use a test strip to determine the pH, which will tell you the acidity level of your soil.
Clear the Surface
Rake away any leaves or other debris from the surface before you collect a sample. If your sample includes leaves, weeds or other debris, your pH reading won’t be accurate.
Dig a hole
Take samples in garden areas from 6 to 8 inches below the surface, in turf grass areas go down about 3 inches, and around trees check the soil at a depth of about 12 inches.
Collect a Sample
Scoop up a small amount of soil from the hole. Remove weeds, rocks and other debris from the sample. Crush or remove any dirt clods.
Mix With Water
Place from 1 to 3 teaspoons of soil in a jar and add enough distilled water to just reach the top of the sample. Put on the jar lid and shake it well, mixing it for at least 60 seconds, and then allow the jar to sit for at least half an hour.
Get Liquid to Test
Pour the water through a coffee filter and into another jar or into a paper or plastic cup so that you have a sample that contains no solids.
Check the pH
Dip a pH test strip into the liquid and then match the resulting color to the chart that came with the test strips. The color will tell you the pH of your sample, which indicates the acidity of your soil.
Test More Than Once
To get an accurate indication of the acidity of the soil over a large area, get samples from several different locations in the area and then average the results together.