How to Test Soil pH at Home?

The pH of the soil is a measure of its acidity or alkalinity. This pH value is crucial because it affects how well plants can uptake nutrients from the earth. If the pH is too low (acidic), plants cannot absorb nutrients such as phosphorus and calcium. Plants won’t receive enough nitrogen and magnesium if the pH is too high (alkaline).

The ideal pH for most plants is between 6.0 and 7.0, but some plants, like rhododendron, red pine, and ceanothus, have specific needs outside this range. Testing the pH level is the only way to know what soil additive you need to support plant growth. 

Learn how to test your soil’s pH with and without an at-home testing kit to support healthier plant life in your garden. 

Why You Need to Test Your Soil pH

Most plants prefer a neutral soil pH, but some plants, such as azaleas growing under pine needle trees, and rhododendrons, need more acidic soil, while others, such as asparagus and cabbage, prefer alkaline soil. The best way to determine the pH of your soil is to have it tested by a professional. However, you can also test the pH using an at-home testing kit. 

Testing your soil pH levels regularly ensures that your plants are getting the right soil conditions to thrive. If the pH is outside the ideal range for your plants, you can add lime, sulfur, or other additives to balance the soil’s acidity or alkalinity. 

By testing your soil pH, you can ensure that your plants have the perfect growing environment.

How to Test Soil pH Without a Kit?

Purchasing a pH testing kit is the best way to get accurate results, with many brands achieving up to 94% accuracy compared with professional lab testing. However, there are several ways you can test whether your soil is acidic, alkaline, or neutral without one. 

Tools and Materials

To perform a soil pH test at home, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • A clean glass jar
  • Distilled water
  • White vinegar or lemon juice
  • Baking soda


To ensure you get the best results possible, you must collect soil samples from several areas of your yard. Take soil samples from approximately 6” deep and test the soil in several areas of your yard, including sunny and shady spots and places that receive a lot of foot traffic or organic matter like leaves. 

Once you have collected several soil samples, you need to prepare them for testing: 

  • Place the soil samples in separate containers and add distilled water until the soil is saturated.
  • After 30 minutes, add vinegar or lemon juice to the mixture. 
  • If the mixture turns pink or red, it is acidic. If it turns blue or green, your soil is alkaline pH. If it does not change color, it is neutral pH.
  • Add ½ cup of baking soda to the mixture to test for a more accurate pH reading. If the mixture fizzes, it is acidic. If it does not fizz, it is alkaline.

How to Test Soil pH with a Kit?

Testing your soil pH with soil test kits is the best way to get an accurate reading. Kits are available for purchase online or at most hardware stores. To use the pH testing kit, follow these steps:

Tools and Materials

The kit will include a soil pH meter or pH scale, pH test strips, and a soil sampling auger. You also need soil samples from several locations in the area you want to test. 

The pH meter measures the acidity or alkalinity of the soil, while the test strips are used to determine the specific pH level. 

The soil sampling auger is used to collect soil samples from various depths. This information is then used to adjust the soil’s pH level as necessary.


To use the kit, follow these steps:

  • Clean the soil pH meter with distilled water and dry it with a clean cloth.
  • Fill the soil sampling auger with a small amount of soil from the area you want to test. 
  • Insert the auger into the ground to a depth of six inches and twist it to collect a soil sample. 
  • Remove the auger from the ground and empty the soil into a clean container. 
  • Moisten the soil sample with distilled water until it is damp but not wet. 
  • Insert the soil pH meter into the soil and wait for the reading to stabilize. 
  • Compare the meter reading to the chart in your kit to determine the soil’s pH level. 

Boost Your Garden Soil 

If you want your plants to thrive, ensure they have the right soil conditions. The pH of your soil can significantly impact plant growth, so it is essential to test it regularly to ensure your plants have the perfect environment for growth. 

The HomesNGardens blog series covers everything you need to know, from planting to pruning, to create a healthy and thriving garden.

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