You wouldn’t expect to succeed with a recipe with no idea how much of each ingredient to add.
A soil test kit allows you to measure specific amounts of crucial nutrients, as well as pH values, to understand what’s needed for healthier soil.
For immediate results, check out Sonkir Soil pH Meter. It is easy to operate and can be used repeatedly throughout the entire season.
What to know before you buy a soil test kit
Why you need a soil test kit
For your plants to thrive, they need particular soil conditions. If those conditions aren’t right, you’ll need to tweak them to create the ideal growing environment. A soil test kit lets you know exactly what you need to do to have that perfect soil. A soil test kit can save you time, money and frustration while helping your plants flourish.
Not all soil test kits work the same
There are three types of soil test kits: instant-read probes, at-home lab tests and mail-in lab tests.
Instant-read probes: These soil test kits feature probes you insert into the soil. While these models do not offer the highest degree of precision or the most comprehensive data, individuals like them because they deliver immediate, hassle-free results.
At-home lab tests: If you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, at-home lab tests go a bit deeper into the details than instant-read probes. The process is more involved. If you don’t like mixing and measuring, this type of kit won’t be much fun. However, if you want a hands-on experience to learn about your soil, this is an excellent option.
Mail-in lab tests: As you might have guessed, mail-in lab tests are sent to a lab for analysis. You’ll collect soil samples according to specific directions and wait approximately a week for results. While this is the most comprehensive and accurate method, it’s the most prolonged process.
What to look for in a quality soil test kit
Does the soil test kit provide the data you need?
Not all soil tests measure the same elements. Following is a list of the five things a soil test kit may measure.
Temperature: As a matter of convenience, some soil test kits will register temperature, so you know when it’s safe to plant those temperature-sensitive seeds.
Light exposure: Sunlight requirements differ from plant to plant. A soil test kit that measures light exposure will let you know the perfect place to put your sun- or shade-loving plants.
Moisture content: The soil’s moisture delivers nutrients to a plant’s roots. If your soil is too wet or dry, your plants will not thrive. A soil test kit that can measure moisture in the soil is desirable.
Soil pH level: The pH level tells you how acidic your soil is. It’s vital to have slightly acidic or neutral soil for your plants to flourish. This type of test is a must-have for soil test kits.
Nutrients in the soil: While there are several essential nutrients a plant needs to grow, the most important ones are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Both at-home lab tests and mail-in lab tests measure these three nutrients. Some soil test kits, however, measure many more.
While some individuals argue precise measurements are not always needed, they are never a bad thing. The more accurate your data is, the better equipped you will be to succeed.
If you purchase a mail-in lab test, you will likely only get one test. Many at-home lab tests allow you to perform multiple tests, which can come in handy for verifying that the soil is ideal after it has been amended. An instant-read probe can be reused repeatedly but usually only measures soil pH, moisture and light.
How much you can expect to spend on a soil test kit
The price range for a soil test kit is roughly $10-$30. You will find instant-test probes at the lower end of that range, while at the higher end, you will have at-home lab test kits and mail-in lab test kits.
Soil test kit FAQ
Is a soil test kit only for gardens?
A. You can use a soil test kit anywhere that you have soil. They can help you better understand conditions not only in your vegetable and flower garden but in your potted plants, lawn and compost as well.
My soil testing kit only measures pH levels between 5.0 and 9.0, is that enough?
A. yes. The alkalinity of soil shouldn’t range beyond those parameters. If you have a test kit that measures the entire range, between 0.0 and 14.0, it might not be precise enough for your gardening needs.
What’s the best soil test kit to buy?
Top soil test kit
What you need to know: A handy, easy-to-use soil tester that measures pH, light and moisture.
What you’ll love: This model is reasonably priced, reliable and doesn’t require batteries. The unit features a one-button operation and provides immediate results.
What you should consider: While this model satisfies, you need to handle it with care when using it.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
Top soil test kit for the money
What you need to know: This is a mail-in service that provides a detailed report of your soil sample to take the guesswork out of adding lime and fertilizer.
What you’ll love: The company provides thorough instructions on how to collect the best soil sample. Results are prompt and usually arrive within a week.
What you should consider: Results sometimes get lost in transit, but the company is helpful if that happens.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you want the most comprehensive results, this mail-in option is the soil test kit to purchase.
What you’ll love: This kit tests for 13 different nutrient levels, so you have a detailed picture of your soil composition. You can use it to determine conditions for a wide variety of purposes ranging from gardening to composting.
What you should consider: This soil test kit is the priciest option on our shortlist.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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