Should everyone look for the best soil pH meter? Is it really necessary to buy the best pH meter for soil or can absolutely everyone start gardening and planting without caring for such details?
I guess, besides giving you my recommendations for best soil tester kits, I also want to talk about who would actually benefit from testing their soil. And if everyone really needs to do it.
Basically, you should get a meter if you suspect that your soil is too alkaline or too acidic. You’ll talk later on about what this means.
Also, let’s say we’re getting an awesome tester for our soil and we get some not so enthusiastic results.
What should we do after? I guess there are a lot of questions that I’m eager to answer. Stick around and read everything that interests you.
Best Soil pH Meter Reviews
Since we’re primarily interested in looking for the best pH meter for soil, let’s get down to reviewing some amazing models and then we can proceed answering all those other questions.
We always talk about pH when we grow in hydroponic systems, whether we grow herbs, tomatoes, strawberries and so many other plants.
But we also need to talk about soil pH so let’s discover which tools we should use for that.
I should remind people that the numbers we wish to see on these measuring tools are between 5.5 or 6.0 and 7.0.
Before jumping to my recommendations, I have a confession to make. I’ve never had a harder time doing research for any products like I’ve had looking for the best soil pH meters to review.
Pretty much all of them have a pretty significant amount of negative user reviews. I read through thousands, trying to come up with some good picks to review. It was exhausting, frustrating, I had so many emotions. In the end, I hope that all my work that took more days than I wanted helps you a bit.
Some pH soil meters will also work as a moisture meter and thermometer for digital plant temperature. You can use their functions as a hygrometer on potted plants as well as in the garden. They’re multipurpose tools.
Some will also measure NPK levels, meaning the three major nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
However, I want to mention that if you want conclusive results, you should seek professional soil testing in your area. A commercial soil tester kit can be fun but it can also be frustrating.
1. Lawnful Industrial Grade Soil pH Tester: Overall Best Soil pH Meter
I am intrigued by the Lawnful Industrial Grade Soil pH Tester. Not only because it looks like not many people have heard about it so it’s pretty much the least popular kit among my recommendations.
I’m mainly intrigued because it’s a pretty pricey option. Among the most expensive.
If you have the money for it and you have no way to access a professional service, getting a soil test from a lab recommended by your county’s agricultural extension office, then I guess you could check out the Lawnful Industrial Grade Soil pH Tester.
I should confess that the word industrial grade contributed a lot to my taking a real liking to it.
I also like the name of this manufacturer, Lawnful.
Even if it’s not really popular, it’s my favorite recommendation for the best soil pH meter.
The Lawnful Industrial Grade Soil pH Tester is an industrial grade, highly sensitive, double-needled stainless steel probe.
The double-needled stainless steel probe is highly sensitive and anticorrosive. There’s also no need for any calibration.
It also boasts of high precision measuring.
It’s embedded with sophisticated algorithms that are great for gardening, home and lab research.
This soil pH meter from Lawnful needs 3 AA batteries to function. The batteries are included, which is awesome.
The measurements are displayed on the LCD screen at the top of this meter. That’s it, we stick the double-needled probe into the soil and then the LCD screen will show a precise number that will indicate whether we have acidic, alkaline or neutral or near neutral soil.
The numbers we hope to get are between 6.0 and 70. This range is the one we all hope for.
How to use it
Press and hold the button to turn on the Lawnful Industrial Grade Soil pH Tester.
Insert the double-needled probe vertically into the soil.
Click the button to start the measuring. The results are instant.
Measure at multiple points to get the average value.
The pH measurement range is 3.0 – 9.0 pH.
That’s all it measures and it’s exactly what we need from the best soil pH meter.
Lawnful also has three tables with the ideal soil pH range for: fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals.
You’ll see that the ideal soil pH range is either 5.5-7.0 or 6.0-7.0 because those are the neutral or near neutral levels. The exception is made by cranberry plants that have an ideal soil pH range between 4.5 and 6.0.
2. Yinmik Digital Soil pH Meter: Amazing Soil pH Meter
Since we’re on a roll talking about expensive options for finding the best soil pH meter, I guess we can also take a quick glance at the Yinmik Digital Soil pH Meter.
It’s even more expensive than the one I reviewed above from Lawnful. That’s saying something.
The only reason for not recommending this one first is that it’s quite expensive.
But it also offers a lot for the price.
Plus, we can use it for both soil and hydroponic pH testing. It also measures temperatures.
This is another complex and easy to use pH meter for soil.
Overall, the Yinmik Digital Soil pH Meter looks amazing, professional, sturdy, well-designed, and easy to use.
The components for this tester are:
- battery cap at the top and it comes with a 1.5V battery
- LCD display that is easy to read and perfect with backlit function
- On/Off button
- hold/temp button
- CAL button
- probe with spear tip probe (a green tip) with protective cover – this is the part we stick vertically into the soil to measure soil pH value
- stainless steel blade
- cleaning brush
We can use it both for soil and for hydroponic nutrients testing. That means that we can measure the pH both for soil and for water with nutrients. It’s amazing.
If we use it to test soil, we can attach the stainless steel blade.
If we taste water with hydroponic nutrients, then we test the liquid solution without the blade on.
How to use it
The first thing we need to do is to install the stainless steel blade on the electrode, transforming it into some sort of extension for the spear tip probe.
Actually, I should also mention that we shouldn’t test dry out soil so make sure to water it before testing.
Turn the meter on.
Insert the probe into the soil.
We get instant results for both soil pH and temperature.
Being able to measure soil temperature can help us with knowing exactly when we can transplant seedlings in the garden.
Once you’re done measuring, take down the blade and clean the pH probe with the included cleaning brush.
Wash it under water and clean it with the brush but just the green tip needs to be cleaned.
Place the protective cover over the green tip.
We can also download the Yinmik app to connect with the soil pH meter.
Thus, we can set up automatic data storage.
We can also leave the tester in the soil for a long time. Then, we can check out the stored data and we can see how the soil’s pH changes. It can be helpful if we make corrections to our soil.
This idea of sticking the meter into soil and leaving it there for a long time to collect data and transmit it to an app is certainly something that makes the Yinmik Digital Soil pH Meter stand out.
Well, it should offer something different because it’s quite an expensive tool. This is the most expensive recommendation for the best soil pH meter.
3. Atree Soil pH Meter: Cheap Soil pH Meter
From some of the most expensive options, we’re quickly downgrading to one of the cheapest, this simple looking one from Atree Soil pH Meter.
I’m not the biggest fan of this model but if you want to spend under $15, I guess you’ll want to give it a chance.
It does a lot of reading.
We can read pH, moisture and light. It’s a three-way meter that is meant only for soil reading. Don’t use it in liquids.
It has a small screen where we can see levels for all three measurements: pH, moisture and light.
There’s also no need for batteries.
We just insert the probes into the soil about 4-6 inches, ⅔ of the probes are inserted, and then we’ll get our reading.
We can use it both indoors and outdoors.
Make sure that the soil is moist to avoid damaging the metal probes.
There’s a switch that allows us to pick moisture, pH or light.
Once we insert the probes ⅔ down into the soil, we need to adjust their position until the pointer on the dial swings slightly.
Leave the probes in the soil for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes we should get our results for whatever we selected to measure.
Once you’re done, remove the probes and wipe them clean.
Overall, if you don’t want to spend too much money, the Atree Soil pH Meter can be a good option.
4. Luster Leaf 1605 Digital Soil Test Kit for pH, N, P, and K
This is not exactly a cheap soil tester kit but it is a bit cheaper than the Lawnful Industrial Grade Soil pH Tester.
This one from Luster Leaf is also really popular. Although, like all the other models on the market, it has a lot of negative reviews from buyers.
Let’s see what it offers and what we get for the price.
It’s good to see that it measures levels for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, besides the levels for soil pH.
For soil pH we can measure between 4.5 and 7.5.
For N, P, K we get results like: surplus, sufficient, adequate, deficient, and depleted.
It’s a digital soil tester that is very popular but it’s definitely not my favorite option for the best soil pH meter.
It is a patented digital soil tester with an optical test chamber.
We get 25 capsules. Or we can choose the 20 tests or 40 tests packages.
10 are for soil pH. The rest are for N, P, and K. We get 5 capsules for each.
Green capsules are for pH to determine the acidity or alkalinity of the soil or if it’s neutral or around neutral.
The purple capsules are for nitrogen N, blue for phosphorus P, and orange for potassium K.
We also get vials with caps of the same 4 colors to indicate which is for which.
The main reason for liking the Luster Leaf 1605 Digital Soil Test Kit for pH, N, P, and K is that a user mentioned that they compared the results with actual lab results and the results offered by this Luster Leaf Soil Test Kit were quite close to lab results.
Overall, I still can’t overlook all the negative results for this product but there are also a lot of positive user reviews that praise it quite a bit. I wanted to love it but I still like it a lot.
5. Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit
This one from Garden Tutor is certainly not my favorite option for the best soil pH meter. It’s also completely different from all the other models that I reviewed above.
I guess I just want to include the Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit to sort of complain about it.
I mean, this kit can be quite confusing. Let me tell you about it because I need to vent.
At first glance, this kit seems easy enough.
We get a bottle with a label that has pH levels from 3.5 to 9.0.
But that’s where the complication arises.
Each level has three colored squares. However, if I look at level 5.0, 5.5 and 6.0 I seriously cannot figure out the slight difference in colors. As you can see I’m not very good at picking out slight color variations.
Thankfully, there is a difference in shades for level 6.5 and 7.0. I guess these would be the most easily identifiable.
Although the 7.8 and 8.0 have colored square shades that look pretty closely to level 7.0.
We get 100 strips so we can make 100 soil pH tests, which is a lot for how cheap the Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit is.
It costs around $15 so it’s definitely cheap.
How to use it
Once we put some soil into a glass with water, we can dunk the strip in.
We should get 3 squares of different colors in about 60 seconds and then we can compare these colors with the ones on the label and see what pH levels we get.
I’m also not the biggest fan that we have to measure 4 ounces of mixed soil with 4 ounces of water. We should mix them for 30 seconds.
For the best results, we should let the soil/water solution sit for at least 60 minutes before testing.
Once you want to do the test, mix the soil/water solution a bit to stir things up.
Dip the strip in a hold it for 3 seconds.
Overall, the conclusion is that it’s much easier to stick a meter into the soil and read the results on a LCD display.
6. SoilKit Soil Test Kit Professional Results
SoilKit is actually a comprehensive lab-based soil test kit.
So, it’s not exactly a meter that we use at home and get the results in no time.
With this soil test kit we actually have to collect the soil we want tested and we send them to SoilKit and then we receive the results after a lab tests our soil.
The manufacturer mentions that our soil will be tested by one of the nation’s leading agricultural labs.
It will provide easy to read results and expert soil treatment recommendations.
It can be used both for lawns and gardens.
There are three types of packages we can buy:
- Soil test kit with trowel
- Soil test kit without trowel, single pack – the cheapest
- And twin pack for soil test kit without trowel in case you want to test different areas
Even if we buy the single pack, we can actually collect soil from 4 spots.
It’s absolutely a good idea to collect multiple samples from different areas in your garden or lawn.
Once you receive the pack, you need to register the kit on their website. Then you can collect your samples and send them to this seller.
There’s also a pre-paid envelope included for mailing in the samples.
The SoilKit Soil Test Kit will assess pH and 14 other attributes of our soil. It’s complex.
The results should arrive in 23-48 hrs and you’ll also receive expert advice based on the lab results.
In order to collect your 4 samples per pack, dig 2-4 inches deep for lawns and 4 inches deep for gardens.
Gather soil and fill up to bag line. Overall, it’s very easy to use. But if you already have a lab around you for soil testing, then you can skip buying this kit and take your samples directly to that lab.
7. MySoil Soil Test Kit
I know that we’re here to review the best soil pH meter but I have another soil test kit to review, the kind where we collect the samples and we mail them to a lab and then we get the results.
We’ll get a comprehensive soil report so that’s the good part about these kits that actually involve professional labs that do the testing.
However, I should mention something quite important.
While I want to love this MySoil Soil Test Kit, there’s something holding me back.
The thing is that there are a bunch of negative reviews to pay attention to.
Someone who has followed the recommendations received after their soil has been tested and used the recommended fertilizer blend ended up with a burnt brown backyard lawn.
For others, the website presented various problems.
All in all, there are definitely a lot of people who praise MySoil Soil Test Kit for providing a thorough soil analysis so it’s still a product worth considering if you want to test your soil.
This soil test kit is ideal for: lawn & turf, organic gardening, compost & bulk mixes, soil-less media, trees & shrubs.
It’s highly versatile, covering pretty much everything and everyone.
Their mail-in professional lab analysis measures 13 plant available nutrient levels, including nitrogen and pH.
First, we need to register online on their website because that’s where we will receive the results.
Next, we collect our soil sample, mail the kit in the prepaid mailing envelope addressed to their testing lab, and then wait to get the results.
You will also receive instructions with tailored organic and synthetic fertilizer recommendations on amending your soil.
Unfortunately, we can only mail one level scoop of soil. The scoop and the sample jar are included, too.
On the other hand, the SoilKit Soil Test Kit allowes us to send 4 soil samples per pack. It’s a considerable difference, considering that the prices for these two test kits are quite similar.
How to use a soil pH meter
All these soil tester kits that are available commercially are very easy to use. Most will come with their own sets of instructions that are very easy to follow.
Some kits will advise us to water the soil before testing the pH. That’s because a moist soil won’t cause metal probes to suffer damage. You should definitely water soil before inserting the probe.
Most of these pH meters for soil have a long metal probe or two metal probes.
This is inserted into the soil.
The expensive models will also feature LCD displays and we get our numbers in an instant. These are easy to use and fast.
For the cheaper models, we might be advised to let the probe in the soil for 10 minutes or more to get an accurate measurement.
As I’ve said, these kits are easy to use and they will feature some clear instructions like the ones I gave as an example.
How often should we do a soil test?
Usually, it’s not something we do every year. Although, you can certainly test the soil every fall. Fall is the preferred season, allowing us time to fix the soil for spring, if that’s needed.
Testing the soil every 3-5 years should be enough for most growers.
Should we text potting soil/potting mix?
Should we also test the soil if we’re growing in containers?
Personally, I don’t do it if I buy potting soil from good manufacturers because they clearly know what they’re doing so I just don’t feel the need to test it. Also, most potting soils are a combination of pine bark, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, compost, coir, fertilizer, sand so there’s really nothing to test there.
Moreover, according to the University of New Hampshire, garden soils are not a good choice for containers. The soil can become compacted and waterlogged. Potted soils are incredibly airy.
So, if you’re buying potted soil for your plants, I would say that there’s no need to use a soil tester kit.
What is soil pH?
Let’s get back to the basics for those who are still beginner growers. It’s always good to revisit some fundamental notions.
Soil pH is a measure of the soil’s acidity (sourness) or alkalinity (sweetness).
Professional testing, not the kind done with commercially available home soil test kits, will also measure nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium).
They will also evaluate the texture of our soil: sand, silt or clay.
Why does it matter?
Because it is important in plant nutrition. Soil pH affects the amount of nutrients and chemicals that are soluble in soil water.
Thus, we need to know about this measure and use the best soil pH meter to determine its level because we need to know about the amount of nutrients available for our future plants.
Frankly, most of the time we’re looking for a neutral number.
A pH level of 7.0 is considered neutral. Most of the time, this is the number we want to see.
We actually need to obtain a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.0. That’s what plants need for receiving all the nutrients they require.
A neutral or around neutral pH level signifies that nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and other elements are readily available to the plants.
If you have some doubts about the soil you have in your garden or fields, then you need to make sure that your soil is adequate by using a soil tester kit.
If the pH is less than 5.5, that means that we have strongly acidic soils. That can result in poor plant growth.
Strongly acidic soils can suffer from: aluminum or manganese toxicity, calcium or magnesium deficiency, and low levels of essential plant nutrients.
Macronutrients are less available and levels of iron, aluminum and manganese can be toxic.
The other side of our neutral or near neutral levels between 5.5 and 7.0 is represented by alkaline soils.
These are identified by a pH higher than 7.0.
We get zinc, copper, boron or manganese deficiencies. And we also get high levels of sodium.
Phosphorus is tied up by calcium. The availability of zinc and manganese is reduced.
Can we correct soil acidity or alkalinity?
Let me be honest. It can be done, there’s no doubt about that.
Can it be done by amateur growers with limited budgets, time, and even knowledge? I would be honest and say that it’s not easy to change soil pH.
I would say that the easiest approach to overcome nutrient deficiencies is by using fertilizers.
Some fertilizers can change soil pH. And they provide the needed nutrients for healthy plant growth.
If we get a high pH, we can use crushed sulfur, ammonium-based nitrogen fertilizers because these lower pH and make the soil more acidic.
If we get a pH lower than 5.5, meaning an acidic soil, we can use lime and dolomite to increase the pH until we exceed the 5.5 level.
For a pH below 5.5 we can add magnesium.
At above 7.0 we can add manganese.
For those who have doubts or for those who want to make sure that they’re working in the right environment, I definitely applaud being completely informed before actually springing into action.
I recommend making sure that you’re planting in a soil with a neutral pH or near neutral, with levels between 5.5 and 7.0. Correcting nutrient deficiencies can be costly and complicated.
It’s best to use a soil pH meter to make sure that your plants will receive the needed nutrients from the soil water, hopefully those will be the results you receive.
DIY soil tests
I came across this article that actually has a few recommendations if you want to avoid looking for the best soil pH meter and buying one.
These tests only involve components that pretty much everyone has at home.
If we want to test the pH, the acidity or alkalinity, we need either vinegar or baking soda.
Drop 2 tbsp. of soil in a bowl and add ½ cup vinegar. If it fizzes, that’s proof of an alkaline soil.
Mix 2 tbsp. of soil and moisten it with distilled water. Add ½ cup baking soda. We have acidic soil if it fizzes.
If nothing happens in either cases, we have a neutral pH, which is exactly what we want to see.
In that article, there’s also a peanut butter jar test to see if you have sandy, silt or clay soil.
All in all, if you’re not interested in buying the best soil pH meter, there are other alternatives you can approach first or you can decide to go the professional testing route for a more in-depth analysis.