It doesn’t matter if you are new to the world of gardening, or you are someone who knows everything from the perfect fertilizer make up for roses to how to get rid of mealy bugs, understanding soil pH is important.
Here, we are going to introduce you to the pH in soil, what it means for your plants, and how you can use the pH in soil to your advantage. We are also going to tell you about pH testers and give you our pick for the best soil pH tester on the market.
Table of Contents
- What is Soil pH?
- Why Should Gardeners Test Their Soil pH?
- The Best Soil pH Testers to Use for Your Garden and Lawn
- Best pH Soil Tester Reviews
- 1. Sonkir Soil pH Meter Gardening Tool Kits
- 2. Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kits
- 3. yoyomax Soil Testing Kits for Garden Plants
- 4. Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter
- 5. Bluelab PENSOILPH pH Pen for Soil, Coco, Rockwool and Solution
- 6. Luster Leaf 716750 1840 pH Soil Meter
- 7. Fivota Soil pH Meter
- When Should You Test Your Soil pH?
- How to Test Soil pH with a pH Meter
- How Often Should You Check the pH of the Soil?
- How to Adjust the pH of Your Soil
What is Soil pH?
Before we start going over the best pH testers for soil out there, we need to make sure everyone reading this understands what pH is in the first place!
Basically, the pH of your soil is a measurement that shows the hydrogen-ion concentration. This is known as “potential Hydrogen”, or pH. The pH ranges from 1 to 14. So, when you measure your soil pH, you will get a number that ranges between 1 and 14.
Soil with a pH of 1 to 6 is considered to be acidic, where soil with a pH from 8 to 14 is considered to be alkaline. A pH of 7 is considered neutral.
In general, your soil should be neutral, ranging from 6 to 7, in order to really grow a wide variety of plants, but there is more to it than that, which we will address soon.
For most casual gardeners, it is enough to know if you have acidic or alkaline soil, and as long as it’s pretty neutral, ranging from 6 to 7, you won’t have much to worry about in regard to pH. Really, as long as your plants are growing well with no issues, your pH is probably fine.
So, why should you care about the pH of your soil? Let’s discuss…
Why Should Gardeners Test Their Soil pH?
You may be wondering why a gardener should test their soil pH. There are actually a number of reasons.
First, the correct soil pH is extremely important to ensure that your plants grow as well as they can, and that you get a good yield. The pH shows how well nutrients can be taken in, so by testing the pH of your soil, you can easily know what can thrive in each area of your property.
Though there are certainly pH adjusting chemicals on the market, it’s always best to use the natural soil you have, if possible.
You will also find that there are things that can affect the pH of your soil, so it can change over time. For instance, the climate and the weather can have an effect on the pH.
If you get a lot of rain, for example, you may notice that the pH of the soil changes. In most cases, it will become more acidic because most of the essential nutrients in the soil are basic. When those are washed away, the acid in the soil remains.
However, the opposite is true, too. If you are living in an area that is experiencing drought, your soil will be more alkaline, as there is no water moving through to remove the basic elements of the soil, such as minerals and salts. So, the pH goes higher.
So, when you have a lot of rain…or very little…it’s important to test the pH regularly to make sure that it’s still in an optimal range for your plants.
Speaking of plants, the plants themselves can actually change the pH of the soil. Grass species, for instance, usually make the soil more alkaline. Soil under trees, on the other hand, tends to be more acidic. Why? Because there is usually more decaying material, like leaves, near trees.
The Best Soil pH Testers to Use for Your Garden and Lawn
Now that you know what pH is and why you should test it, it’s time to take a look at all of the top soil pH testers on the market.
|Pictures||Soil pH Testers||pH Range|
|Sonkir Soil pH Meter Gardening Tool Kits||3.5-8 pH|
|Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kits||3.5-8 pH|
|yoyomax Soil Testing Kits for Garden Plants||3.5-8 pH|
|Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter||3-8 pH|
|Bluelab PENSOILPH pH Pen for Soil, Coco, Rockwool and Solution||4-7 pH|
|Luster Leaf 716750 1840 pH Soil Meter||3.5-9 pH|
|Fivota Soil pH Meter||3.5-8 pH|
Best pH Soil Tester Reviews
1. Sonkir Soil pH Meter Gardening Tool Kits
This soil pH testing tool from Sonkir is actually a 3-in-1 tool, which also measures light and soil moisture. What more could a gardener ask for?
As with most of the tools on our list, this one is easy to use. You simply stick it into the dirt, and make sure the meter is set to pH…then, you can see a value directly on the tool.
Keep in mind with this tool, you can only get the pH of soil. You cannot test other liquids or substances. It also takes approximately 10 minutes to check the soil pH with this system, so you need a little bit of patience, too.
Finally, you can use this meter for both outdoor and indoor plants, which make it an affordable and versatile option if looking for one of these tools.
2. Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kits
If you are looking for a really affordable and simple pH testing tool for your soil, this option from Atree is a great option.
This, too, is a 3-in-1 soil testing device, and batteries are not required. You simply stick the meter into the soil about 4 inches deep and wait for 10 minutes. Once that time has passed, you can read the meter and get an accurate measurement.
Like other meters, you cannot use this soil pH meter on other liquids or substances. It’s only for soil, and it won’t even work if the soil isn’t moist. So, you have to make sure you water the soil before you test it.
Since this meter can also measure light and moisture levels, you also have to make sure the switch is turned to the correct measurement, too. You don’t want to have it set to light, and then try to measure pH.
3. yoyomax Soil Testing Kits for Garden Plants
One of the coolest things about this soil pH meter from yoyomax is that it is available in six different colors! So, if you are a gardener who has a little bit of style, you will certainly appreciate this option, and it helps this one stand out from the crowd.
As with the other soil pH testers we have mentioned thus far, this one, too, also tests light and soil moisture. It has a double-needle design, and it is very easy to use. Again, you simply stick it into the soil and wait for approximately 10 minutes.
There are no batteries to worry about, nor any plugs to think about. Yet, it still gives accurate results according to reviews.
This option is small and compact, too, so you can take it from one area of your garden to another, and you can even use it indoors for your houseplants. It literally weighs almost nothing. It’s less than 3 ounces!
4. Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter
If you are looking for something a little more than the simple pH soil meters we have reviewed thus far, this option from Gain Express is a great one! This is especially this case if you are looking for something that is easy to use and easy to read.
Yes, it’s quite a bit more expensive than the others we have reviewed, but it is extremely accurate, and you can use it in all types of different soils, something that the other ones don’t do.
Do you have clay? Sand? Silt? You can measure the pH of all of these with this meter.
Though it doesn’t measure light, this meter measures both pH and moisture with great accuracy. You can stick it right in the soil, and within minutes, you get a reading. The range goes from 3 to 8, so you can easily see where your soil stands in regard to pH.
5. Bluelab PENSOILPH pH Pen for Soil, Coco, Rockwool and Solution
This pH soil tester is the real deal, and it is ideal for people who are looking for more than the cheaper testers can offer. This is the most expensive pH tester on our list, but there is very good reason for it.
First, this soil pH tester is a pen, so it has a different design when compared to other meters. Additionally, you can use this pH tester for other materials and substances including water in a pool, in hydroponics, or even for home brewers or wine makers.
This is a digital meter, which requires a AAA-battery, and it is simple to calibrate and read. The pH is digitally displayed on the face of this meter, and it even comes with calibration solution and a storage case.
For people who not only want to measure the pH in their garden, but also elsewhere, this meter is the best option.
6. Luster Leaf 716750 1840 pH Soil Meter
If you want to choose a solution for pH soil testing that comes from an industry leader, this is probably the option you want to go for. Coming from Rapitest, the Luster Leaf pH soil meter is also a new design for our list, but it’s one that works very well.
This design features a meter and a probe, which is connected to the meter with a wire. It’s a meter that can automatically measure the pH, and almost immediately tell you if the soil is acidic or alkaline.
In addition to measuring the pH and quickly showing a reading, this device also comes with a guide that tells you about the optimal pH for more than 400 common plants, flowers, and greenery.
Keep in mind that the soil you measure has to be moist, simply because the meter picks up the pH from the moisture in the soil. It’s easy to use, highly rated, and fairly affordable; perfect for those who are looking for a good, overall pH reader.
7. Fivota Soil pH Meter
Finally, we have this soil pH meter that is manufactured by Fivota. This comes with a large display, and updated light sensor, which measures better than many other pH meters on the market.
As with many of the meters on our list, this meter also measures light and moisture in addition to pH. Once you place the meter into the soil, you can get a reading in approximately 10 minutes. It doesn’t require batteries nor a power source.
You can use this for both house plants and outdoor plants, but keep in mind that it only measures sunlight; it will not give an accurate reading if you have any natural light or lamps that are focused on your plants.
When Should You Test Your Soil pH?
Now that you know all about soil pH and have learned about all of the best pH soil testers on the market, let’s take a look at actually measuring the pH.
First, when should you test the soil? The best time to test your soil is at the beginning of the growing season. No matter how you do it, whether you use one of these testing devices or send it away to be tested, which is a possibility, you should always get your readings before planting.
If you want to use one of these testers, remember, you need to make sure that the soil is moist in almost all cases, so just don’t think that you can measure soil pH when conditions are extremely dry.
How to Test Soil pH with a pH Meter
In almost all cases, you can test the pH of your soil with one of these meters in the same way. The first thing you want to remember is that you can only test the soil if it’s moist. If it’s not, you can water the soil and wait a couple of minutes to ensure the water gets into the soil.
Next, you want to place the pH meter into the soil. Most of these have prongs or sensors, so you should place them into the soil. You want to push the sensors down approximately 4 to 6 inches in most cases.
Once the pH sensor is in place, you must wait if you are using most of these meters. The average is about 10 minutes.
When that 10 minutes is up, you can then look at the face of the meter to get your reading. Remember, for most plants, a pH from 6-7 is ideal.
How Often Should You Check the pH of the Soil?
We have already mentioned that you should check the pH of the soil before you begin to plant your garden, which is generally once a year. However, there are certain times when you want to check it in addition to that.
First, when you plant new plants, no matter when throughout the year, you should be checking the pH to ensure the soil conditions are ideal for the plant you have chosen.
You should also check the pH after you make adjustments to the soil, which we will discuss below.
How to Adjust the pH of Your Soil
Once you have a reading of your soil, you may find that you need to increase or decrease the pH for optimal growing conditions. There are a number of ways for you to do this.
First, if you want to make your soil less acidic, most people add some type of material that has lime in it. Generally, people use ground-up limestone, which is available from almost any home improvement or garden store.
Keep in mind that the finer the lime is, the quicker it works. However, you still need to take a look at the soil itself, as that can have an effect on how much the pH changes. For instance, a soil that high in clay might require more lime than a soil that doesn’t have as much clay.
If you are going to apply lime, you definitely should consider sending your soil away for a soil test in addition to using a meter at home. Lime should be applied in the fall or winter, so if you note that the pH needs adjusting in the spring, wait a few months until fall comes around.
For those who don’t want to use lime, there are other options. Some people use wood ash to raise the pH of the soil. The ash from wood contains a lot of calcium and potassium as well as boron and phosphate.
Wood ash isn’t as effective as limestone, but if you keep using it, you can, over time, adjust the pH. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to use ash around roots or seedlings that are germinating.
So, it’s best to place the ash on top of the soil in the winter, and then incorporate it into the soil in the spring. You certainly don’t need a lot of wood ash, and you want to make sure you are not using coal ash, as that can have the opposite effect.
If you are interested in decreasing the pH of the soil, there are things you can do here, too. Plants like blueberries, for instance, really like acidic soil, and if the soil is too alkaline, it can actually cause the leaves to yellow and fall away.
Two materials that you can use to lower the soil pH are sulfur and aluminum sulfate. Both of these, like lime, can be found at almost any garden center or hardware store.
If you use aluminum sulfate, keep in mind that it will instantly change the pH of the soil when it is dissolved into the soil. Sulfur, however, requires a bit of time.
How long? It really depends on the consistency of the sulfur, how moist the soil is, the temperature of the soil, and even different types of bacteria in the soil. Sometimes, it can even take several months for sulfur to change the pH. So, most people choose aluminum sulfate.
It doesn’t matter what option you use, both of them will require integration into the soil to work. You also need to keep these chemicals away from the leaves of the plants. If any leaves get these substances on them, you need to wash them immediately.
As you can see, a soil pH tester can be a great thing to have available, especially when you begin planting in the spring.
We gave you several options of pH testers for the soil here in this review, but which one is the absolute best pH soil tester?
After looking at things including reviews, pricing, and features, we have chosen the best of the bunch. Which one is it? It’s the soil pH meter available from Fivota.
The Fivota Soil pH Meter is the one that features the larger, improved display and the upgraded light meter. It is able to test pH, moisture, and light, too, which makes it a very versatile tool to have as a garden tool.
It also comes at an affordable price, and it is an Amazon’s Choice product.