How to Test the Soil pH


Testing your soil's pH level is a crucial step in gardening and maintaining a healthy outdoor space. It helps you understand your soil's nutrient levels, which in turn affects the growth and health of your plants. If you're ready to take your gardening game to the next level, follow our guide and learn how to test your soil pH.

How to Test the Soil pH?

Testing Soil pH with a Kit

pH testing kits make it easy to determine your soil's acidity level. Here is a step-by-step guide for using a soil pH testing kit:

  • Select a pH testing kit. You can find kits at garden centers or home improvement stores. Look for a kit that tests soil pH in the range of your soil type. Peat moss and muck soils need a lower range, sand and clay higher.

  • Collect soil samples from your garden beds. Take samples from at least 3-5 locations throughout the area you want to test. Mix samples together in a bucket to make a composite sample.

  • Prepare the samples for testing. Remove any debris and air dry samples if wet. Grind or sift samples to pass through a 1/4 inch sieve.

  • Follow instructions in your kit to prepare pH indicator solutions. Usually a red solution tests for acidity and blue alkalinity. Shake to ensure mixes are uniform.

  • Scoop about a cup of your soil sample into a clean container. Add an equal amount of distilled water. Stir thoroughly until a porridge-like consistency is formed.

  • Allow the soil and water to sit until bubbles stop appearing and the soil becomes evenly moistened, usually 15-30 minutes. This allows the pH indicator chemicals to properly mix with the soil.

  • Make pH indicator comparisons. Place drops of the indicator solutions onto small pieces of filter paper in different areas of a tray or plate. Add drops of the soil solution and observe color changes.

  • Determine your soil's pH based on color changes. Match closest color change to the pH scale provided with your kit to identify your soil as acidic, alkaline or neutral.

  • Follow kit instructions for adding amendments to adjust your soil's pH if needed for the plants you want to grow. Re-test pH after amendments to ensure proper level before planting.

Testing Soil pH without a Kit

If you don't have a soil pH testing kit, you can still determine your soil's acidity level using some common household ingredients. Here's how:

  • Collect soil samples from your garden as described previously. Prepare samples by air drying if wet and grinding any debris.

  • Make a soil and water slurry. Scoop about a cup of soil into a clean container and add an equal amount of distilled water. Stir to form a porridge-like consistency. Let sit 15-30 minutes to allow chemicals to mix.

  • Prepare litmus or phenolphthalein solutions. Place a few drops of litmus or phenolphthalein solution, available at drug stores, onto filter papers. Litmus will turn red in acid, blue in alkaline. Phenolphthalein will turn clear in acid, pink in alkaline.

  • Place drops of your soil solution onto the indicator papers. Observe the color changes to determine if the solutions turn acid or alkaline. Litmus red is acidic, blue alkaline. Phenolphthalein clear is acidic, pink alkaline.

  • Compare color changes to the pH scale to estimate your soil's level. Litmus red is around pH 4-6 (acidic). Blue around pH 7 (neutral). Phenolphthalein clear pH 1-8 (acidic-neutral). Pink pH 8-14 (alkaline).

  • Re-test the soil after amending to ensure proper pH before planting. Adjustments may be needed to bring the pH into an optimal range for your garden plants.

For the most accurate reading, you can have your soil tested at a local agricultural extension service laboratory. They can provide an official pH measurement and recommendation for your soil.


With our guide, you'll be able to test your soil pH level like a pro and make informed decisions when it comes to gardening and maintaining a healthy outdoor space. From selecting the right testing method to interpreting the results and adjusting your soil's pH level, we've got you covered. So get ready to invest in your garden's health and enjoy a thriving and beautiful outdoor space. Follow our guide and take the first step towards becoming a gardening expert!

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