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?
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, phosphorus, 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.
The Best Soil Test Kits For Garden & 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|
|Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kits||Moisture, Light, pH||Buy on Amazon|
|Sonkir Soil pH Meter MS02||Moisture, Light, pH||Buy on Amazon|
|XLUX T10 Soil Moisture Sensor Meter||Moisture||Buy on Amazon|
|Soil Savvy Test Kit||pH & N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Na, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, B, Al||Buy on Amazon|
|Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit for Soil||pH, N, P and K||Buy on Amazon|
|Luster Leaf 1605 Rapitest Digital Soil Tester||pH, N, P and K||Buy on Amazon|
|Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit||pH, N, P, K, Ca, & Mg||Buy on Amazon|
|Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter||Moisture, pH||Buy on Amazon|
|Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips Kit||pH||Buy on Amazon|
|Environmental Concepts 1663 Professional Soil Test Kit||pH, N, P and K||Buy on Amazon|
Soil Test Kit Reviewed
1. Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kits
First up, is the Atree three-in-one soil tester. This tester is a great tool to use for several reasons. The Atree 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 the 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 MS02
Next is the Sonkir 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 Sonkir 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 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.
6. Luster Leaf 1605 Rapitest Digital Soil Tester
This soil tester from Luster Leaf uses advanced LED technology to perform 25 different tests, including 10 for pH and five each for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash.
By detecting small color variations, this product is designed to tell you much more about the soil than you can ever see with the naked eye. After the initial setup, just push the test button and it delivers results in just a few seconds.
One of the things we really like about this product is It includes a manual that provides guidelines for what you should do depending on the results of each test. There are pH references for more than 450 plants included so this kit is sure to come in handy for whatever you’re growing.
- This product is easy to use and quite accurate.
- It performs 25 different tests for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash.
- Reference guidelines about pH are included, covering more than 450 plants.
- Test capsules can be tricky to open.
- Lids can fall off easily.
7. Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit
This kit from Whitetail Institute includes everything you need for an accurate analysis. It’s very easy to use. Just collect a soil sample and send it in for a professional analysis.
Results are typically available within a week and you can choose to receive them in the mail or by email, though, in most cases, results were ready a lot sooner. They will tell you how much phosphorus potassium, calcium, and magnesium are in the soil as well as the pH and how much organic material is present.
If you need help interpreting the results or correcting anything that’s off, just call the included 1-800 number for a professional consultation. There’s also an informational video on their website that’s very helpful in explaining the process and its many benefits.
- This kit offers a professional analysis.
- Results include everything you need to know to improve quality and growth.
- Professional consultations via telephone are included with purchase.
- Although turnaround is pretty quick, it can take a while to get results.
8. Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter
This soil tester from Gain Express is one of the easiest to use. You don’t have to prepare or collect any samples, just insert the probe into the ground in the area you want to test. It allows for precise results right where you need them.
You don’t need a battery or any electricity to use this probe. It reads pH between three and eight with an accuracy of ± 0.2 pH so you can make the changes you need to your soil to improve the health of your plants.
The extra-long metal electrode makes it easy to test exactly where you want to and it works in temperatures ranging from 41 to 122 degrees F. Use it indoors for your houseplants or outside in planted beds or gardens.
- Very easy to use, just insert the probe into the soil for a reading.
- You don’t need to worry about a battery of electricity.
- It works in a variety of conditions so you can check your soil anywhere in temperatures ranging from 41 to 122 degrees F.
- The glass will likely fog up and collect condensation if you leave it out in the rain.
9. Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips Kit
If you prefer using strips to check your soil, take a look at this kit from Garden Tutor. These strips have been specially calibrated to test soil pH from 3.5 to nine and deliver fast reliable results. It includes 100 test strips so one contains should last quite a while.
One thing we really like about this one is that it includes a 16-page handbook that helps you analyze results and spells up the lime and sulfur application needed to correct any pH imbalances.
To use, collect a soil sample and add it into a clean plastic or glass cup, mix with water, and dip. Precise directions are included that tell you how to properly collect and mix a soil sample and how to time the test.
- These test strips were developed specifically to test the soil.
- You get 100 strips in a package which should last for quite a while.
- There are detailed instructions included.
- The process is a bit tedious.
10. Environmental Concepts 1663 Professional Soil Test Kit
This professional soil testing kit from Environmental Concepts comes with everything you need to test for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. You get 80 tests in all which includes 20 of each.
This is a liquid-based kit that delivers precise results. Everything comes packed in a sturdy carrying case so it’s easy to keep all of the important pieces together so you’re ready for each test.
Detailed instructions are included along with a reference guide that tells you the pH requirements for hundreds of plants as well as tips for gardening and how to correct any soil imperfections.
- This test not only measures pH but also nitrogen, potassium, and potash.
- It includes 80 tests in all.
- The liquid-based test is easy to do and provides accurate results.
- The testing process is a little complicated.
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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 figure 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 the 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.
Leave a Reply