Best Soil pH Testers for Your Garden and Backyard (2020 Review Update)

Gardening is a science, luckily, it is nothing complicated, and information is abundant. You may not always be successful in growing some plants due to the soil pH, which is why you need the best soil pH testers.

pH in full is ‘potential of hydrogen’ and it is a measure that is used to test how many hydrogen ions are in the soil against hydroxyl ions. Many plants require land that is a bit acidic, so in many cases, you want a pH of less than seven. This allows the plants to have access to the nutrients in the soil, which are usually in the form of ions. The wrong soil pH means that your plants can’t access nutrients so they will die. 

There are various ways to test the pH but using an electronic soil tester is what I have found most accurate for home use. We will have a look at everything you need to know here with the best-rated pH soil tester review.

My top pick:

Professional pH Soil Tester – Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1 Soil Moisture pH Tester

The Sonkir tester uses some of the best pH detection technology to give you results almost as good as lab tests. It is excellent for use anywhere both indoors and outdoors so long as you use it on fine soil. This pH tester is durable, and it is a 3-in-1 tester, so you get value for your money.

While it is not a unique looking tester, I love just how accurate it is and that it has extra-long probes so if you need to reach deeper roots, then this works perfectly. The double-needle detection helps in faster finding since each of the probes measure something different. Switching between the different modes is easy and convenient since the different settings are marked.

You can use this cheap soil pH tester both directly on the soil, and by making the soil and water mixture, so you can do both and get the average, but I can assure you the difference shouldn’t be huge. The pH meter has a basic range between 3.5 and 8, and it comes with a chart to help you. It also has scientific data monitoring that allows you to check on the progress of your plants carefully.

  • Detects pH, moisture, and sunlight
  • It gives results faster
  • Double-needle assures accuracy
  • Can’t be used on dry or rocky earth

Why Do You Need a Soil pH Tester?

A soil pH tester tells you just how acidic or alkaline your soil is so you know what plants you can grow. There are three types of soil pH testers, namely electronic, paper strips, and chemical color dyes. Among these, I have known the automated tests to yield more accurate results, although the other options are high and can give you an idea of what you’re working with.

The best pH tester for soil will tell you the current state of your land so that if it is wrong, you can work on improving it using fertilizers and pH adjusters if needed. This ensures that the earth has the correct pH for your choice of crop. Knowing the pH allows you to have a better chance that your plants will thrive and that you will get a good yield.

Are pH Testers Accurate?

Are you wondering how accurate are soil pH testers? Well, accuracy depends on the type and quality of tester you buy. I prefer electronic testers since they give the most accurate results compared to all the other options. Chemical colored dyes will have to be number two on accuracy. They’re also easy to use since you only need to compare the results from mixing the stain and soil to the chart provided.

The paper strip testers are a bit tricky to use, and you may have to test again using a different method for more accurate results. Please note that these are not litmus papers. You can get regular paper strips from your local gardening store, and they should give you a good idea of the acidity of the earth. However, I suggest getting lab-grade pH testers since they are more accurate.

How Do You Read a Soil pH Tester Result?

First, you need to understand the basics of acidity and alkalinity, which runs from zero to fourteen. Seven is the neutral number, and anything above it is alkaline, while below seven is acidic. Many of the testers usually come with a chart to help you in accurately reading the results depending on the examiner that you use. 

Many of the electronic testers have a probe that allows you to insert it directly into the soil to get a reading. There are cases when it may not work well, and you end up with inaccurate results. The best way that I use for correct results is by making soil and distilled water mixture. Put some soil into a container and add water then stir so that it incorporates well. With this, you can use the electronic or strips to test, and your results should be as accurate as possible. You can do it a few times if you’re not sure as suggested in soil pH testers reviews.

It is usually advisable to use the chart that the tester comes with since some devices have a different reading from the basic one. This ensures that you have a correct read and that you decode it correctly for a good idea of the state of the soil.

7 Best Soil pH Testers Reviewed, Additional Options

Since I have been gardening for years and testing my soil so often, I have used so many pH soil testers. I have tried all the types, which is why I know for sure that electronic testers are more reliable and they make sense financially since you don’t need to buy one as often as strips. As you will see in the reviews below, many are electronic although they all offer different benefits over others that I will discuss.

Best Rated pH Soil Tester – Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS-X1 Upgraded 3-in-1

This is among my favorite soil pH testers since it gives excellent value for money. It is a 3-in-1 tester design that not only allows you to test the soil pH levels but also whether your plants are getting sufficient sunlight and moisture. It is excellent for use both in your garden and for any indoor plants that you may have.

The design is pretty simple, with a large screen so you can easily view all the different readings. It is lightweight, and it doesn’t use batteries, so you don’t need to worry about them running out and affecting your readings. The pH tester soil ranges from 3.5 to 8, giving you 3.5 to 6.5 for acidic and 7 and 8 show alkalinity. It is easy to toggle between the different settings for pH, light, and moisture, so you get to test what you need.

You can test the soil directly by inserting pH tester for water and soil about two to four inches into the ground. Leave it for about 10 minutes or until the reading is stable then take your readings using their unique chart. It works surprisingly well this way, but you can still use the soil and water mixture for certainty.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to make the mixture and you’re not sure it has the correct accuracy, you can add some more water into the soil to improve it. However, remember to do this only if you don’t need to measure soil moisture.

  • Highly accurate readings
  • Affordable with three functions
  • Great and durable design
  • It’s not waterproof

Two-in-One Device – Göksu Soil pH & Moisture Meter Gardening Monitor Tool Test Kit

This is a professional pH meter soil tester with some of the best accuracy and uncertainty of only +/- 0.3. It is a bit costlier, but you can be certain that you are getting a quality product. The build is sturdy, so no need to worry about it breaking or needing some replacement parts. The size is also excellent and lightweight with a superb electrode to improve accuracy.

The Göksu is a two in one device, so it tests both pH and moisture, so it also gives you good value for the price. The pH meter reads from 3 to 8 with moisture range being 10% to 80%. It doesn’t use batteries, which is a plus and it means that you can use it at any time for accurate readings. With this device, the soil and water mixture may not work as accurately since it is specifically designed to use directly in the ground.

Using it is simple since you only need to dig it into the earth up to four inches. If the soil is too dry, you can pour some water and leave it for at least half an hour before testing for pH. Take the result after ten minutes or until the pointer stabilizes. Although the accuracy is excellent, it is always advisable to take several then get the average.

  • It is a compact, well made and lightweight
  • Doesn’t require water mixture for accuracy
  • The dial is easy to read
  • It’s a bit expensive
  • Not great for rocky soil

Budget pH Soil Tester – iKKEGOL 3 in 1 Water Moisture PH Light Meter

The iKKEGOL is another favorite if you are on a budget. It offers three different tests, which it does with great accuracy. It measures soil moisture, pH, and solar intensity.

The probes on this pH soil tester are made of bronze and silver that measure moisture and pH, respectively. They are, however, not the strongest, so be careful when inserting it into the soil. For this reason, don’t use this in rocky earth as you risk damaging it and getting inaccurate readings. It has an easy to use switch that allows you to toggle between the different settings.

I do not like that the screen is so tiny, so if your eyesight isn’t excellent, you may struggle reading it. However, it gives steady readings with little differences, no matter how many times you take it. It doesn’t use batteries so you can use it as long as you can with no issues.

The pH tester for soil and water ranges from 3.5 to 8, and it has a chart to make sure that you interpret the readings correctly. Another thing that I enjoyed is that it has a plant pH guide at the back. It has some of the most common plants that you may want to try out, so you know that you have the correct pH.

  • Scientifically accurate
  • Affordable for 3-in-1
  • Great for both outdoor and indoor
  • The probes are not sturdy

One of the Most Reliable Soil pH Testers – Kelway Soil pH and Moisture Meter

Kelway is a great manufacturer and other than providing this excellent pH tester, it has some of the best customer services, so in case of anything you are in great hands. This two in one pH reader has a design similar to the Göksu, meaning it is just as reliable and easy to use. However, I think that Kelway pH soil tester is more accurate. It costs a few dollars more but for good reason since it comes with a storage pouch as well as a conditioning film for cleaning the probe.

It measures both moisture and pH with the pH range being the standard 3.5 to 8. It has excellent accuracy according to soil pH tester reviews since no matter how many times you test it, you will get right about the same reading. I like the fact that the screen is right at the top, so it is quick to view even from a bending position.

Operating it is easy since by default it measures the pH, but if you would like to change to measuring moisture, press and hold the button. Remember not to use Kelway soil pH tester in rocky earth since this may lead to an inaccurate reading and the probe may become damaged. Also, don’t leave it in the soil after use since this destroys the probe. Hence, it may start failing.

  • High accuracy for both pH and moisture
  • Doesn’t require a water mixture
  • It is built to last
  • Has a pouch with belt loop
  • It is costly

Best Chemical Soil pH Tester – Luster Leaf 1612 Rapitest pH Soil Tester

I prefer electronic testers because they are more accurate, but this chemical test is the only one I know that beats many. It is a comprehensive tester that gives you a kit with everything you need for four trials, including nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and pH. You get a package of up to 10 tests, but the best part is that when they run out, you can order straight from the seller.

The thing that is so great about these tests is that you get a complete look of the nutrients in your soil as well as the pH, so you know what needs some work precisely. I have compared the results for these with lab results, and there is only a point difference or less, so it is quite accurate. I would recommend these when you are starting your garden since the information you get is crucial to the growth of your garden.

It is an easy kit to use with clear directions of what you need to do as well as a detailed results chart. As a bonus, you also get a list of about 400 plants and the pH levels that they require for growth, which adds to why this would be the perfect tester if you are starting.

  • It is almost as accurate as lab results
  • It has easy to understand instructions
  • The plants’ chart gives you ideas of what you can plant
  • You only get up to 10 tests

pH Level Soil Tester for Most Accurate Results – Pointer Type Soil PH Detector Tester Sensor with Detachable Probe

If you are looking for a tester with a more extensive range, then this type may meet your needs. It is only a pH tester and has a variety between 2.5 and 9 so if your soil is highly acidic or alkaline and you want a more accurate reading then this is for you. It has all the essential features that you would expect in a standard device of this kind and with a removable and replaceable probe.

Using it is simple since you only need to dig it into the soil at four inches or more according to electronic soil pH tester reviews. You should get as close to the roots as possible since that gives you an accurate reading of the pH. This is important since the closer you are, the easier it will be for you to know whether your plants are getting all the nutrients that they need at that pH.

  • It has duo-probes for increased accuracy
  • The light sensor gives the most accurate results
  • It is affordable
  • You may need several readings

The Fastest pH Tester for Soil – Luster Leaf 1606 Rapitest Digital Soil pH Tester

If mixing chemicals isn’t your idea of having a good time and you need something faster, then the Luster Leaf 1606 is what you need. It is a quicker version of 1612, but it doesn’t give you the mineral results of your soil. This one also comes in a set containing a digital reader, test tube, dropper, and ten capsules each for one test.

Using it is a little bit of a science experiment, but it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. You will need to put soil into the test tube, add in the contents of one capsule then distilled water. Shake the bottle thoroughly then leave it to rest for about two minutes, and it will be ready to insert in the tester. Results only take a few minutes, which is why it is considered the fastest pH tester.

The tester also has indicators that light up when the result is ready, so you don’t need to try and figure out what color corresponds with what pH. The outcome is also accurate meaning that it will give you reliable data that you can use to improve your soil.

  • Has a plants pH chart
  • Doesn’t require color comparison
  • Has easy to understand instructions
  • Only works up to 10 tests

How Do You Find The Best Soil PH Tester?

Your choice of the best pH tester depends on what is most important to you. For example, if you only need to know the pH and not the soil mineral composition, then an electronic device is perfect. However, if you want to know the nutrients in the soil, a chemical test would give you the desired results. You also need to check on:

  • The number of tests that you can perform, for example, pH, moisture, and light.
  • The design of the tester and the way it can be used and read.
  • pH scale range depending on the type of soil.
  • Type of soil, for example, waterlogged, dry, or rocky.
  • Accuracy of the device. Ensure that you check pH testers for soil reviews.

Remember to fully follow the instructions given on every test for the best results. With chemical tests, just like in a chemistry experiment, everything needs to be measured. Without this, you won’t achieve the correct outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions about pH Soil Testers

If you are new to testing the pH of the soil in your garden, then you must have some questions. Here are a few common ones about the best pH soil tester.

The pH test measures the number of hydrogen ions in the soil, so the testers use electrodes that attract the ions to it. The concept is the same for both chemical and electronic test kits. So the hydrogen ions get attracted to the electrodes on the tester, which then sends a reading to the pointer that shows the level of ions.

No, soil pH tester won’t work water since the sensors are specially made to test the hydrogen ions in the soil and not water. However, some soil pH testing strips may work on the water. The biggest problem is that you won’t get an accurate reading. Many soil sensors have a limited pH range, so if the acidity of your water is beyond that, you won’t know.

If you’re using a liquid tester then you only need to put some soil into a container, add the chemical liquid, shake and wait for the color change. Remember to use the chart provided for an accurate reading based on manufacturing.

With a digital tester, it is easy to dig it directly into the soil and wait for the reading. Alternatively, make a mixture using distilled water and soil then leave the probe in it until you get a reading.

Put soil into the test tube up to the level indicated, add the chemical in the capsule and water up to the required standard. Shake properly then leave to rest for a couple of minutes. Put in the tube in the detector and compare the results to the chart.

Yes, they do. The important thing is to check the accuracy level and some of the reviews from buyers. Not all cheap testers may work, but many of them do.

No, a pool testing kit will likely give you a wrong reading since it is designed for a different task. Hence, the pH range will also be varied. You may get a result, but the accuracy is not one you should rely on.

Best Soil PH Tester Review – Conclusion

It may take some time before you can fully grasp everything you need to know about accurate soil pH tester. However, understand that the basic rule is that the pH of your garden soil will affect the type of plants that you can and can’t grow. In some cases, the plants may grow but don’t get enough nutrients to produce, so if you have fruits, vegetables, or herbs, you may not get the outcome you expected. If you are starting your garden, checking only the pH, so you also need to do a chemical test to get details on the nutritional content of the soil. Fixing any deficiencies when you start your garden usually leads to better yields throughout so the earth doesn’t need too much from you. Check the different options you have for testing pH and best-rated pH soil tester review Which method of testing soil pH levels do you trust most? What is the best pH soil tester for you?

Last update on 2020-04-06. The post includes Affiliate links. Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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