As a gardener, you know the importance of having good soil. Good quality also includes having the right pH level for your plants.
Depending on what you’re growing, the pH levels of your soil are going to vary. Some plants like more acidic soils, while others need basic soil compositions.
A great way to ensure that your soil is perfect for your plants is to use a soil test kit.
The best soil test kits inform you of everything your soil has and what it needs to improve.
Table of Contents
- What is a Soil Test Kit?
- What are the Advantages of Using a Soil Test Kit?
- Best Soil Test Kits for Garden and Lawn
- Best Soil Test Kit Reviews
- How to Use a Soil Test Kit?
- When Should You Test Your Soil?
What is a Soil Test Kit?
Soil kits are indispensable tools for gardeners. From the many different soil kits out there, the most common one is a pH tester. This informs you of the level of acidic and basic properties your soil has.
Another popular test tells you about the different components found in your soil. You can easily see substances like nitrogen and potassium and their quantities. Having this information lets you know what you need to add to your soil to perfect it.
Another soil test kit is used to measure the moisture content of the soil. This is especially important for specialized plants that need specific amounts of water.
What are the Advantages of Using a Soil Test Kit?
But why is it important to know all about your soil?
When you understand what your soil is missing, you can add things to perfect it. With the perfect soil, your plants can grow in larger quantities and more colorful blooms.
Healthy soil for ideal growth contains three main components: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Your soil should also be soft and moist, making it easier for roots to travel. A soil test kit can help you see all these components and more.
Using these soil tests is great because you know exactly what your soil needs. If it’s too dry, water it more. If there’s not enough potassium, add potassium components. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of gardening, and it also saves you time and money.
Best Soil Test Kits for Garden and Lawn
There is no shortage of soil test kits. From the large variety, it takes time and effort to find one that’s great for your plants.
Depending on what you want to test, here a few of the best soil test kits available.
|Pictures||Soil Test Kits||Tests||Links|
|VIVOSUN Soil Tester, 3-in-1 Plant Moisture Meter Light and PH Tester||Moisture, Light, pH|
|Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS05 3-in-1 Soil Moisture/Light/pH Tester||Moisture, Light, pH|
|XLUX T10 Soil Moisture Sensor Meter||Moisture|
|Soil Savvy - Soil Test Kit||pH & 14 Nutrients including (N,P,K)|
|Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit for Soil||pH, N, P and K|
|Ywillink Soil PH Measuring Instrument Tester||pH|
Best Soil Test Kit Reviews
1. VIVOSUN Soil Tester, 3-in-1 Plant Moisture Meter Light and pH Tester
First up, is the Vivosun three-in-one soil tester. This tester is a great tool to use for several reasons. The Vivosun soil testing kit comes with three different testing capabilities.
You can use it to test the moisture content and amount of sunlight your plants are receiving. You can also use it to view the pH level of the soil around your plants.
The design of this soil testing kit is what makes it so easy to read. There’s a simple panel on top of the device that uses a needle to point to the different amounts of substance. To switch between the different capabilities, all you have to do is flip the switch itself.
The main problem with this product is that it’s not particularly strong. Many consumers have complained of its durability. Even though its functions are great, the design could be better.
- This product comes with three testing capabilities, giving you more bang for your buck.
- It’s very simple to read and easy to switch between tests.
- The durability of this product is a little lacking. It doesn’t hold together securely.
2. Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS05 3-in-1 Soil Moisture/Light/pH Tester
Next is the Sokir soil testing kit. This kit also has multiple testing capabilities. It’s great to use when you need to know about the pH levels of your soil, water content, and sunlight amount.
All you have to do is switch it to the type of content you’re trying to test. Then you insert the prongs into the ground. This gives you a reading on the upper panel of the product.
Like many testers, this product uses a needle to display the amount, so it’s very accurate to use. The Sokir soil testing kit is also great because it doesn’t need any batteries. The design works solely on the basis of its probes, so it’s important to keep those clean and away from damage.
One issue that gardeners face with this product is that it can be inaccurate sometimes. Some users have complained of getting different readings in the same area, so just be aware of that.
- The needle provides a clear representation of the amounts of substance in the soil.
- It doesn’t require any batteries, so that saves you more money.
- You may find that the same area of your soil gets different readings.
3. XLUX T10 Soil Moisture Sensor Meter
Third on the list is the XLUX soil moisture sensor. This product focuses on testing the moisture in your soil.
As with any other tester, it’s important to keep the probes of this device very clean. Any foreign substance on the probes can skew the readings.
The design for the XLUX sensor is a little different because it uses a large dial for readings. It’s perfect for users who need larger print.
Another great feature of this sensor is that it comes with an 18-month warranty. A warranty is something you don’t see in many soil test kits, so that’s a big plus.
One negative point to mention about this sensor, though, is the price. With other products, you get two or three functions for the price of one. With this one, you only get a water sensor.
- This has a large dial, making it easier to read the measurements.
- It also comes with a large warranty period, something that’s rare for soil kits.
- The price of this device is much higher than what you find for others with more features.
4. Soil Savvy Soil Test Kit
If you’re looking for something more thorough than just a probe, this product is for you. The Soil Savvy testing kit provides you with a fully detailed report of everything your soil has.
Using the Soil Savvy testing kit is a bit different from other testers. You have to take a sample of your soil and mail it to the testing facility. There, they test it for various substances and mail you back a report.
This is a great way to test your soil without having to wonder about the accuracy. You receive professional grade assistance on understanding what your soil needs.
One problem with this product though is the wait time. It takes several days to mail the soil and receive the report on it. Probes provide a quicker method, but this is more thorough, so it depends on what you prefer.
- You can pinpoint exactly what’s needed in your soil, including the main ingredients of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous.
- It takes longer to get results back because of relying on snail mail.
5. Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit for Soil
Another product that provides a look into your soil is the Luster Leaf Rapitest. It has a structured method for understanding the components of your soil.
You receive four color-coded containers that represent different tests. You can test the pH level, potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous separately.
Along with the containers, you receive 40 capsules to start the process and a dropper. You also receive a guide on fertilization. Lastly, you get an information packet for the desired pH levels of different plants.
To test your soil, all you have to do is place a sample of your soil in the corresponding container, and add a little water. After that, put the capsule in, and this tells you how much of that substance your soil has.
One negative point to mention here is that you can run out of capsules. It might end up costing more to refill than buying a new kit.
- The containers make it easy to stay organized.
- You can test more components faster.
- Refilling the capsules could cost extra money.
- The process is more difficult to follow than a probe.
Last, but not least is the Ywillink soil tester. This product follows the design for a soil testing probe. All you have to do is insert it to see what your soil needs.
The Ywillink soil tester can be used in both indoor and outdoor plants. However, when you use it outdoors, make sure to use it in properly tilled land. Any contact with hard rocks and debris in the soil can damage the probe.
This product also uses a needle to determine the levels of components in the soil. Instead of numbers, it uses a color system of green to red to explain the quantity of substances.
One negative thing about this product is the price. While it tests more than aspect of the soil, it’s still pricier than other tests. You can find similar testing kits for more affordable prices.
- The color-coded panel makes it easy to read and understand.
- You get fast readings every time.
- The price is higher than several other similar tests.
- It has a bulkier design.
How to Use a Soil Test Kit?
There are many different ways to use a soil tester depending on the type you have. Probes require little setup compared to other tests. Tests that use samples have their own specific methods for instruction.
Every testing method has its own details to be aware of. However, there are some tips that every gardener can use when testing their soil.
- Gather Your Materials
Start with having the right materials. These include a clean trowel to dig with and a container to hold the sample. You also need distilled water when using a testing kit that mixes substances.
- Decide Where to Get Your Sample From
Gardeners need different samples depending on what they’re measuring. You may want to test the same soil but in different areas. Try to get a varied amount of soil for your test, and clearly label each container.
The more variety you include in your soil samples, the more you can understand your garden. Getting an idea of the big picture for your soil is important.
- Taking the Samples
In order to take your samples, you need to dig a bit deeper than normal. Dig into at least six inches of the soil you want to test. Taking the sample from soil less than two inches into the ground can be inaccurate because it’s topsoil.
As you’re collecting your soil, take more than you think you need. A lot of times, you need to remove debris and unnecessary rocks from the sample before you can test it.
Once you have your cleaned sample, it’s time to test it! This is where your next steps differ depending on what you’re testing.
If you’re looking at the moisture level of your soil, you need to test it as soon as you can. The longer you leave your sample out of the ground, the drier it becomes. This gives you an inaccurate reading of your soil, so the sooner you do it, the better.
If you’re testing your soil using a liquid kit, then you add the required liquid to the test sample. Usually, you have to mix it or shake it into the soil, then leave it for about ten minutes. Your soil should change colors according to however much of the substance it has.
If you’re using a powder or capsule test, the method is similar. Add the required powder and mix well. If you have to add a capsule, break up the capsule in your hand first before adding it into the soil.
Once you’ve done that, mix it thoroughly into the soil and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Again, your soil should change colors fairly quickly, letting you know what you need to add.
- How to Read Results
After the samples have been taken, it’s important to carefully review the results. The most important thing to remember here is that you need to read the sample in the prescribed time.
If you leave the liquid or powder solution in your sample for too long, it can start to change the color of your sample. This leads to inaccurate measurements from your test and incorrect readings.
To avoid this, make sure to read the results as soon as you can. It also helps to have a side-by-side comparison of the soil and the referral chart. Ensuring good lighting helps because minute color changes make a big difference.
Some tests are as simple as looking at where the dial is on the marker. Others require comparing the colors of the sample to a chart. Still others need you to send in the sample for a professional to look at it.
However you get the results for your tests, the best way to ensure accuracy is to follow the directions. That means taking the right sample and performing the test correctly. Using extra caution is important to figuring out what you need to add or take away from your plants.
When Should You Test Your Soil?
The best time for testing your soil depends on the plants you’re growing. Different plants have different growing seasons, so it varies based on your garden.
The most ideal time to test the soil is before you plant your seeds in the spring. This informs of what you need to add to your soil to have a healthy growing season.
It’s also a good idea to test the soil once again when you prepare the garden beds in fall. The winter season takes a lot out of the plants and soil, so testing it helps you prepare accordingly. You can stock up on the nutrients your soil needs before the cold weather sets in.
You should also test the soil when your plants experience environmental change. Heavy rains, long droughts, cold snaps, and heat waves all play a big role in the soil’s health. Checking on moisture and sunlight levels during this time ensures consistent environments.
Lastly, perform soil tests on your plants every four months or so. This is enough time for the different animals and insects around the area to either move in or out. Their presence also affects your soil health, so test it often.
Using a soil testing kit is one of the best ways to remove the guesswork of gardening. People think that taking care of plants and the soil is difficult because it’s hard to see what they need.
However, just like any pet, you know the basic requirements for keeping them healthy. Plants are the same, and as such, require basics like water and sunlight. It’s up to you to figure out in just what quantity they need those components.
Taking a soil test is the best way to start a new garden or to keep an old one thriving. It just takes a little time to make a big change for your plants.