Balanced soil is a crucial pillar to establishing healthy lawns. Soil tests let you know the amendments you should make to support thriving grass growth. One common change is to raise or lower the pH of the soil. It would be best to have a good quality pH tester to test your soil’s alkalinity or acidity. It’ll help you decide whether you need to raise or lower it.
The best soil pH tester kit needs to be accurate, fast, durable, and versatile. The easy way to test soil ph is to get digital and analog pH test kits while mail-in kits provide the most accurate results and analytical data coupled with soil restoration guidelines.
When should you test soil pH?
You can test your soil pH at any time of the year. A soil pH test is critical whenever you want to establish a new lawn. Also, deteriorating turf health calls for a soil pH test. It’ll help you know whether your lawn’s dismal productivity is linked to soil acidity or alkalinity.
5 Best soil pH test kit
Here are the five best soil pH test kits that I have tested on my lawn and found influential in determining soil alkalinity or acidity:
1. Best Soil pH Test Kit for Accuracy- Soil Kit Laboratory Soil Test Kit
Nothing beats the accuracy of lab-based soil testing. Soil Kit Laboratory Soil Test Kit is arguably the best lab-based soil test kit. After purchasing and registering the test kit, take a soil sample and mail it to the lab inside the pre-paid envelope.
Within a week, the laboratory will send you accurate results in the form of a report that’s easy to read and understand. The Soil Kit Laboratory Soil Test Kit offers soil pH results and precise measurements of your soil nutrient and mineral levels. Other benefits of this soil test service include excellent customer service and great value for money at only $30.
On the downside, lab-based soil testing services are slower than DIY soil test kits. You have to wait for a week to get your results, whereas DIY kits showcase results within minutes.
2. Best DIY Soil pH Test Kit- Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit
For faster results on the pH conditions of your lawn soil, the Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit is your go-to soil tester. The kit includes four tubes where you mix the soil samples with distilled water and the pH capsules.
Shake the soil solution and let it sit until the sediment settles and changes color to get an accurate pH reading of your lawn soil. Then, match the resultant color with the color chart attached to the kit.
The Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit eliminates the issue of misplaced color charts since the color chart is on the test unit. Also, this kit can give you nutrient readings alongside pH readings.
One disadvantage of the Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit is that it’s hard to get accurate results if you try to match the colors too soon before the soil sediment settles. Sediment settling usually takes about 20 minutes. Additionally, you can only take up to 40 soil tests with this soil test kit.
3. Best Multi-Purpose Soil pH Test Kit- Houseplant 3-In1 Soil Test Kit
The Houseplant 3-In-1 Soil Test Kit is not only easy to use but also fast and multi-functional. This soil pH is an analog test kit that displays soil test results 10 seconds after you push its metal probes into the soil.
From the front switch, you can choose between three test functions. These functions allow you to test your soil pH, soil moisture, and soil light levels using a single tool in a single session.
To ensure accurate pH readings, ensure you clean the probes of the Houseplant 3-In-1 Soil Test Kit before using it. The probes should be inserted 2-3 inches deep into the soil for 10 seconds. Since it’s an analog tester, no batteries are needed to operate the Houseplant 3-In-1 Soil Test Kit.
4. Best Affordable Soil pH Test Kit- Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips Kit
Containing 100 test strips in each bottle, the Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips Kit offers the best value for money spent.
Mix your soil sample with water in a ratio of 1:1. Once the soil sediment settles, dip a test strip inside the solution and match it against the color chart that comes with the product packaging.
Since it’s a water-based test kit, ensure to use distilled water. Tap water has decontaminants that might alter the pH reading. The Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips Kit is great for quick and basic soil pH testing and doesn’t differ much from lab tests’ accuracy.
5. Best Soil pH Test Kit for Dry Soil- HI99121, Direct Soil pH Measurement Kit
Landscaping professionals advise gardeners to ensure the lawn soil is damp before testing, as pH soil meters typically give inaccurate results if used on dry ground. However, you don’t have to go through the hassle of wetting your lawn before using the HI99121, Direct Soil pH Measurement Kit, as it features a drill designed to penetrate hard ground.
Also, the kit features a user-friendly LCD display and a convenient auto-shut-off.
How to use a soil test kit
Different soil test kits have different methods of operation.
Digital meter types
These soil pH test kits are the most common.
These battery-powered testers feature probes that you stick into the soil. An electrical charge runs through the probes to test the pH composition of the soil before the results are relayed to the screen where the results are displayed.
Note: Before using a digital soil test kit, make sure the probes are thoroughly cleaned using soapy water.
Collect soil samples from your lawn before labeling them and sending them to a lab for professional testing, analysis, and feedback. Depending on the type of kit, you can send multiple samples using the same kit.
Other kits only allow for a single sample.
Test tube chemical kit
These kits require the user to mix soil samples with water and certain chemicals contained inside a dye capsule or in the form of vial droplets. After shaking the test tube, match the resultant color of the soil solution with the color-coded results on the user manual.
Note: Test tube chemical kits require the user to prep the soil solution for 24-30 hours before checking the final results.
Analog soil test kits
Analog soil test kits are a precursor to digital soil test kits. These testers feature three metallic probes that you stick in the soil. The probes pick up natural electric charges in the earth, measuring pH and soil moisture levels.
Buyers guide: what to look for in a soil pH tester?
Below are some considerations to consider when buying a soil pH tester for your lawn.
A good soil pH tester has to be accurate. Since lab tests provide close to 100% accuracy on pH and nutrient tests, lab-based testing kits are considered the best soil tester option. For DIY soil testers to be considered of good quality, they should show minimal or negligible fluctuations with lab-based results for the same soil samples.
The period from when you take the soil sample to the pH results is also crucial. DIY testers that give accurate readings within 20 minutes or less are the better option.
Some soil pH testers can be used on moist, dry, hard, or compact soil. Meanwhile, others can only provide accurate readings if the soil is damp.
A soil test kit with durable probes will serve you longer than one whose probes are made from cheap material. Checking the warranty coverage is an excellent way to gauge the durability of a soil pH testing kit. Brands that are confident in the durability of their analog and digital test kits typically offer warranties of up to 18 months or longer.
What is the best way to test soil pH?
The best way to test soil pH is by using laboratory soil test kits (mail-in kits). Mail-in kits provide the most accurate results and analytical data. With a lab-based soil test kit, you’ll correctly determine the soil pH of your lawn and receive helpful guidelines on how to restore the soil’s pH balance.
Note: Laboratory soil testing should be your first option if you’re working on your lawn for the first time or if your turfgrass is showing signs of stress.
What is the easiest way to test the pH of soil?
The easiest way to test the pH of the soil is to use an analog or digital tester with probes that go into the ground. This method is fast and straightforward, as the tool displays a pH reading a few seconds after being inserted into the soil.
You need to wait for the soil sediment to settle when using chemical testing kits or strips.