7 Best Soil Test Kits
The composition of the soil is just as important as the quality of the seed or sapling that's planted. Analyze yours to help your garden grow.
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What Is a Soil Test Kit?
A soil test kit measures the nutrient content of your soil. They come in many forms, including digital gadgets, test strips, send-away services and more, and can be an effective tool to help ensure gardening success.
Home soil test kits guide gardeners to the right types and quantities of fertilizers to optimize specific plant growth by revealing pH, which indicates acidity or alkalinity. The tests also reveal key potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus levels, and can identify soil contaminants, too.
While do-it-yourself kits may lack the precise results and follow-up information provided by professional soil-testing services, they’re a great way to identify challenges and start your soil in the right direction.
Read on to learn about seven of our favorite home soil test kits.
Best Digital Soil Tester
The Sonkir Moisture/Light/pH Tester is easy to use right out of the box. Push its two probes into the ground in the garden near your plants (or future plants) for 10 minutes, and it provides quick and easy-to-decipher information on sunlight, soil moisture and pH level.
This basic information can point a gardener in the right direction if plants are not thriving, even those in containers, indoors or outside. The meter is inexpensive, doesn’t require batteries and can be used again and again.
Note: Some Amazon reviewers mentioned the meter didn’t immediately register a realistic pH level for soil. But after lightly scrubbing the probes with an abrasive item such as a file, sandpaper or steel wool, they worked as advertised.
Best DIY Lab Test Kit
Here’s how the My Soil test kit works: Dig up some soil from the area you want to plant and send it off for a professional laboratory test. The kit provides all you need, including a scoop to ensure the right amount of soil is collected.
Reviewers say that test results are prompt and easy to understand, allowing you to make the recommended changes to your soil. (MySoil sends along personalized information to help.)
Best pH Soil Test Strip Kit
The Garden Tutor pH Soil Test Strips Kit gets high grades from consumers for accuracy. It delivers easy-to-read results in a few minutes — just compare your results against the included color chart. The kit comes with 100 test strips, so you can test often in different areas of the garden. Distilled water is recommended as a mixing agent so results aren’t skewed by minerals in tap water.
An included instruction booklet relays helpful information on applying fertilizers to neutralize soil for an optimal growing environment.
Best Hybrid Soil Test Kit
When you want comprehensive test but don’t want to wait for a laboratory to process and return results, the Luster Leaf Rapitest is a great option. The kit tests for pH level as well as three important components of healthy soil — nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus — with enough supplies for several rounds of testing.
Best Bluetooth Soil Tester and Monitor
The VegTrug Smart Plant Monitor analyzes the soil’s moisture content and nutrients, along with the amount of sunlight a specific plant is getting indoors or out. (It doesn’t monitor pH specifically, just whether or not its general fertilizer needs are being met.) It’s easy to use for Android or IOS phone-using app lovers.
Best Soil Test for Contaminants
Properties on formerly farmed land, or near old buildings and busy roadways, are more likely to be contaminated by lead and other metals. This can be harmful to plants and humans. Mowing, digging, wind or simply walking can send them airborne, until they’re inhaled, tracked inside or settle on plants.
The Brooklyn College’s Urban Soils Lab provides the necessary in-depth soil analysis targeted to these and other specialized situations. Simply collect a soil sample and send it to the college with payment and the necessary form. Note that they may then use your soil for research purposes.
Best “Soil” Tester for Hydroponics
Precision is the name of the game in hydroponics, making a finely-tuned pH meter crucial. The Apera Instruments Multi-Parameter Tester is a five-in-one handheld meter that helps growers stay on top of their liquid medium’s pH, salinity, temperature and more. Reviewers like the reliable functions, the various necessary adjustment fluids (included) and helpful customer service.