What Is The Best Soil Testing Kit?

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Not sure of the pH level of your soil? That is going to open you up to a whole host of issues when it comes to planting and maintaining your garden! Different plants and shrubs are going to be better suited to different types of soil, whether it be acid or alkaline soil. This is the case no matter whether you have small potted plants or a much larger space – knowing the pH level of the garden will allow you to plant effectively.

There are lots of home solutions for this – but they are far from effective and no where near as reliable as a soil testing kit. They can be used time and time again so that you are always going to be giving your plants the best!

Best Pick – Willkey 4-in-1 Soil Tester

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Do I Need A Soil Testing Kit? 

Many people will openly admit that they have never used a soil testing kit in their garden – for some part this may be because they don’t feel that they need to use one, or it could be that they just don’t know what to buy. 

No matter the size of garden that you have the pleasure of working with, a soil testing kit is not only going to help you to create a beautiful garden, but it is going to make your time in the garden so much more effective, so that you can get down to the important part…actually enjoying it! Not only that, but gardeners waste hundreds of pounds every year buying plants that don’t take to the garden, or shrubs that never seem to grow and develop. Why waste all of this effort, money and time, when you could just buy a soil testing kit and then KNOW what is best to plant in your garden. 

The main purpose of a soil testing kit is to test the moisture, pH and (for some models) the light and temperature available in the soil at that part of the garden. This allows you to then go out and purchase plants that are best suited to that environment, giving them a head chance at growing and flowering successfully. 

In short, a soil testing kit should be purchased if you are changing your garden layout, you are planting fruit or vegetables, you have moved to a new home so have a new garden to work with or if there is any sign of stunted growth/plants that are struggling in your garden. 

In A Hurry?

If you are wanting to know what to plant in your garden this year, or maybe you are already struggling with “problem plants” in your garden…whatever the reason you are in a hurry, we are here to help with all the best soil testing kits you can buy and those key features that you need to be looking for. 

What Does A Soil Testing Kit Actually Test?

This is the first and most crucial thing that you need to check when looking to purchase a soil testing kit. The best soil testing kits will test the moisture level, pH level and sunlight exposure in the soil in one particular area of your garden. However, there are many models that actually only test one, or a couple, of these areas so this is something we would recommend checking before you buy if you want to be sure to get the best value for your money. 

All soil will have a pH level between 0 and 14, with 7 being neutral, over 7 being alkaline and below 7 being acidic. Different plants are suited to different soil pH levels depending on where they are native to. For example, in the UK our soil tends to be between around 4.5 and 8.5 (depending on the area) so most plants that originate in the UK are going to be suited to this type of soil range. However, there are a number of factors that can impact on your soil pH levels which is why it is so crucial to check. 

The second two aspects are more self explanatory….different plants require different levels of moisture and sunlight. For example, plants from warmer, drier climates could struggle to cope in a typical British garden as the soil will hold too much moisture and often the garden will not receive enough sunlight. This is why many gardeners have to store some of their garden plants in their sheds or conservatories over winter months. If you purchase a soil testing kit that can also check these features then not only will you be able to purchase plants that are going to be able to thrive in particular areas of your garden, but you will also know when the time comes through the year to move them to another area of the garden if necessary! 

Types of Soil Testing Kit

There are three main methods to choose from when you are looking at purchasing a soil testing kit. Each has their pros and cons so it’s important to consider which is going to be best for your garden…

  • Electronic Testers – An electronic tester is arguably the most accurate type of soil test and by far the easiest to use. Simply insert the probe into the soil and a digital display will give you all the information you need to know about your soil once it has processed the information (usually this takes around 60 seconds). 
  • PH Testing Strips – Remember that litmus paper that you all used in science at school? Well it is back – but this time to actually be of some use! This process does require a little more effort as you have to mix and filter the soil sample, but it will give you very detailed information about not just whether the soil is acidic or alkaline but also HOW strong the pH level is. 
  • Coloured Dyes – This is the halfway house in terms of the amount of effort that you have to put in to testing your soil – simply add the coloured dyes to a soil solution and the colour of the solution will change. You can then compare this colour to a colour chart to judge how acidic or alkaline (or even neutral) your soil is! 

TOP TIP: If you decide to opt for an electronic tester then it is worth checking whether the model you have purchased is battery powered or not. Some will work on solar power in the garden whereas others are going to need a battery which is occasionally not included in the purchase. 

Soil Testing Kit – What To Look For

Now that you know the main factors to think about when purchasing a soil testing kit, here are some of the key features that you need to consider before you buy…


It goes without saying that you are going to want your soil testing kit to be accurate – otherwise what is the point? One thing to remember is that you are looking for a test with a LOW resolution – which always surprises most people as you would think a higher resolution would be better. Some of the best kits will have a resolution as low as 0.001 pH units which is going to give a really accurate reading! Others will only have an accuracy of between +/- 2 pH units, which is going to offer quite a lot of variation! This is fine if you are going with plants that are more “safe bets” but if you are really passionate about your garden and the plants you grow, you are going to need more accuracy than that! 


You also want to check how easy it is going to be to use your testing kit, as if the process is hard work then you will find reasons to put off actually doing the test! We mentioned this briefly above but the type of tester that you go for is going to have a large impact on how easy the test is to complete. 

The electric probe tester is arguably going to be the easiest and quickest, but in all honesty even the more complex pH testing strips don’t take that much time once you are used to them. Remember to make sure that whatever style of testing kit you go for it comes with detailed instructions so that you are clear on the readings that are being taken and how to get them! Colour dyes and pH testing strips are a little messy though so you may want a shed or greenhouse to actually complete the test in. 

Some tests will take literally 60 seconds to complete (the electric probe testers) whereas others are going to take around an hour so this is an important consideration to go for as well. 

Best Budget – Sonkir Soil pH Meter

Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1 Soil Moisture/Light/pH Tester Gardening Tool Kits for Plant Care, Great for Garden, Lawn, Farm, Indoor & Outdoor Use (Green)
  • Kindly NOTE: This soil tester can not be applied to test pH value of any other liquid. If the soil is too dry the indicator will not move, and water it before testing.
  • 3-IN-1 FUNCTION: Test soil moisture, pH value and sunlight level of plant with our soil meter, helps you specialize in grasping when you need to water your plant.
  • ACCURATE & RELIABLE: Double-needle Detection Technology strongly enhances the speed and accuracy of detecting and analyzing soil moisture and pH acidity.
  • EASY TO USE: No batteries needed, just insert the sensor probe into the soil about 2-4 inches, toggle switch to test moisture, pH, sunlight you would like to measure.
  • INDOOR & OUTDOOR USE: Design to be lightweight and portable, easy to carry around for outdoor use, ideal soil test tool kit for home plants, garden, lawn and farm.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Best Soil Testing Kit Features

Now that you know the main things you need to look for when purchasing a soil testing kit, here are some of the additional features we noted that are worth looking for. 

  • Long probe – If you are using an electronic model then one with a longer probe is going to make it much easier to make your readings. With short probes it is often easier to actually scoop some soil and take the reading from the container, but this isn’t always as accurate. 
  • Waterproof – Again, this is only really relevant if you are opting for an electronic model but we would highly recommend making sure the product is waterproof. It is rare that you are going to be doing your test in bad weather as this could affect the moisture readings but a waterproof model is going to be safe in your shed or garage over winter and not be affected by the damp. 
  • Number of tests – It is important to look at how many tests you are going to be able to complete with your soil testing kit. Electronic models should (in theory) just keep working for as long as you need them to, but other models are going to come with enough to complete a set amount of tests. 
  • Additional soil content – Some tests that you can find will not only tell you the pH of your garden soil but also the amount of potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen in your soil! This will help you make an informed decision not only about what plants to purchase but also what fertilisers and supplements you need to add to your soil for the perfect plant! 
  • Accessories – If you are purchasing a pH or colour dye set then you are going to need containers to hold the soil solution whilst you are working. Some of the best soil testing kits will come with containers for you to use which is going to be important if you are planning on doing individual soil tests for different parts of the garden – otherwise you are going to need a large number of containers! 

Best of the Rest

XLUX Soil Moisture Sensor Meter tester Water Monitor, Hygrometer for indoor plants, flower pot, Gardening, Farming, No Batteries Required
  • EASY TO READ: Large and clear dial, including ten scales
  • Reliable and accurate: Sensing probe ensures accurate and instant testing results, matching for both indoor or outdoor use.
  • Less hurts: Single probe, less hurts to the roots, doesn't dig up too much soil after test.
  • How to use: Simply insert the moisture meter into soil and you'll get the test result instantly. Help your plants grow healthy and strong.
  • Important tips: 1. Do not use it to test very hard soil 2. Never use it to test water or other liquid. Designed for testing soil only. 3. After use, please wipe clean the probe.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Gardman 16063 Soil pH Testing Kit, 1 x 10 x 12 cm
  • Soil pH Testing Kit for use in propagators and all indoor sowing
  • Centigrade and fahrenheit calibration
  • Designed for easy usage
  • Model number: 16063

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Suplong Soil pH Meter 3 in 1 Plant Soil Testing Kit With pH, Light & Soil Moisture Meter For Garden Care, Farm, Lawn, Indoor & Outdoor (No Battery Needed)
  • 🌻🌻Kindly NOTE: This soil tester can not be applied to test pH value of any other liquid( pure water and other liquids such as vinegar, juice). If the soil is too dry the soil pointer will not move, and water it before testing.
  • 🌸🌸3 IN 1 FUNCTION: Test soil moisture, pH value and sunlight level of plant with our soil meter, Make it easy for you to know the condition of the plant.
  • 🌻🌻 CONVENIENT OPERATION: The pH moisture meter don't need batteries, just insert the sensor probe into the soil about 2-4 inches, Switch to moisture/pH/light position according to demand, then wait for a few minutes till the pointer stops swinging to get a stable reading on the scale dial.
  • 🌸🌸 INDOOR & OUTDOOR DESIGN: Ideal tool to test the soil conditions ( Moisture/Light/PH) of fruits, flowers, vegetables, shrubs, etc. Lightweight and Portable design, convenient for indoor and outdoor use.
  • 🌻🌻 SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE: Premium Double-needle Detection Technology strongly enhances the speed and accuracy of detecting and analyzing soil moisture and pH acidity, Easy & accurately to read moisture, pH and light levels, promote plant growth in a healthy way.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Testing Your Soil

Once you have chosen a soil testing kit, the next thing is going to be actually using your soil testing kit in your garden. We would always recommend testing different parts of your garden so that you can be sure the pH reading is going to be right. For example, you may find that the soil in your pots is different to the soil in your bedding areas.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I change the pH level of my soil? 

It is going to be very difficult to successfully change the pH level of your soil in the long run! You can add different solutions, such as lime, to make your soil more alkaline or acidic, but this isn’t going to be a long term solution so would get costly if it was something that you were trying to maintain. If you have a particular plant that you are keen to grow, using composted pots with the right type of soil may be a better option. 

What plants can I grow in acid soil? 

If your test has found that you have quite acidic soil then these are some of the best plants that will thrive in that environment…azaleas, rhododendrons, holly, gardenias, fothergillas and magnolias. There are many more but these are the main plants and flowers that are going to be suited to this environment. 

What plants can I grow in alkaline soil?

If you have done your pH test and found that you have alkaline soil then some of the best plants and flowers to go for include: Lily of the valley, Lavender, Honeysuckle, Clovers, Wild Marjoram and Phacelia.

How can I test my soil without a pH testing kit?

There are “home remedies” for testing the pH of your soil. One method, is to add half a cup of water and half a cup of vinegar to the soil sample. If it bubbles or fizzes then the soil is alkaline. The problem with this is that it won’t tell you how alkaline/acidic the soil is and mistakes can be made – a kit is always going to be the more accurate choice!

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About Thomas Paxton 368 Articles
Hey there, I'm Thomas Paxton, your Tool Guru with a Twist! I've been knee-deep in the world of tools since I was a little tinkerer in my dad's shed. Now, I'm running my own website where I share my passion for tools and gardening products through buyers guides and insightful tips. I've got the knowledge and experience to break down complex concepts into simple, easy-to-understand language. I purchased Tools Review from Mike Jones at the start of 2023, he has done a sterling job of building the site and I hope I can continue in his success! When I'm not writing guides, you'll find me in my garden or garage, putting my skills to work and pushing the boundaries of creativity. So, whether you're a pro or just starting out, join me on this adventure, and let's conquer DIY projects together!

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