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pH Level Test

How to take a pH Level Test for Lawn?

Taking a pH Level test in your lawn involves several steps including digging for a soil samplecleaning the soiladding soil and water togetheradding the vinegarrepeating the process if no bubbling occurs and adding baking soda. The soil’s pH level gives a measure of the alkalinity or acidity of the soil. The pH scale is from 0 to 14, and if the soil pH level is closer to 0 than 14, it shows the soil is acidic; for 14, it implies it is alkaline. 

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Most plants and turfgrasses prefer a soil pH between 6.0 to 7.5, with few exceptions like blueberry bushes that thrive when the soil pH level is around 5.5. The right soil pH levels are necessary for proper bacterial activity, preventing nutrient leaching, and maintaining soil structure, among other things. 

Eden explains the step-by-step process of taking a soil pH test at home in this article. Eden also discusses the purpose of taking the test, the materials required, tips, methods, and the best timing for taking a pH level test for the lawn here.  

1. Dig for a Soil Sample

The first step for testing the pH level of the lawn is to collect an accurate soil sample by digging. The step-by-step instructions to do this are given below.

  • Take a spade and insert it diagonally up to a depth of 6 inches into the soil in one area of your lawn.
  • Remove the spade and reinsert it diagonally from the opposite side so that it touches the first slit you made to create a V-shaped slice of soil.
  • Remove this V-shaped slice from the soil carefully so that the core remains intact.
  • Cut out an inch-wide core strip of soil from the slice and place it into a clean bucket.
  • Return the remaining soil to the hole you just created.
  • Repeat this process to collect more samples like this from different areas on your lawn and place them in the same bucket.

The advantage of this method of collecting multiple soil samples is that you will get a more accurate level of pH for your entire lawn as a whole, which in turn will help you make more precise amendments to fix the pH if required.

Soil Sample

2. Clean the Soil

The second step to test the pH level of the lawn is to clean the collected soil sample. The step-by-step instructions to do this are given below.

  • Remove any debris like grass, thatch, twigs, leaves, roots, or any other organic matter from the sample to ensure the soil sample consists only of soil.
  • Mix the collected soil thoroughly to ensure there are no clumps or interfaces between the soil collected from different areas on your lawn.
  • Spread this soil evenly over a newspaper to dry.
  • Collect the dry soil into two cups.

The advantage of cleaning the soil is that it will remove any debris that might cause inconsistencies when performing the pH level test. 

3. Add Soil and Water Together

The third step to test the pH level of the lawn is to add water to the soil sample. Eden recommends using distilled water for this purpose as it has neutral pH and will not affect the results of the soil pH test. The step-by-step instructions to do this are given below.

  • Pour the two cups of soil sample into two separate dry bowls or containers.
  • Add half a cup of distilled water to both bowls or containers.
  • Mix the soil sample and water well.

The advantage of adding water to the soil sample is that it will provide a better mixing medium for the testing agent.

4. Add the Vinegar

The fourth step to test the pH level of the lawn is to add vinegar to the soil and water mix. The step-by-step instructions to do this are given below.

  • Take one bowl or container with the soil and water mix.
  • Add half a cup of vinegar to the mixture of soil sample and water.
  • Check for a visible fizzing or bubbling action.

If you see a fizzing action after you pour the vinegar into the soil and water mix, it means that the soil is alkaline. The bubbling or fizzing is the result of the chemical reaction between an acidic substance (vinegar) and an alkaline substance (soil); the more significant the fizzing, the more alkaline the soil.

The advantage of adding vinegar is that it helps you determine if the soil is alkaline. Since most plants prefer slightly acidic soil, this result allows you to make appropriate amendments to bring the pH level to the desired acidic range, unless you have plants or turfgrass that prefer alkaline soil.

5. Repeat the Process if No Bubbling Occurs

If there was no bubbling or fizzing when you added vinegar to the mixture in the previous step, you will have to repeat the process with a different testing agent. You need to do this to determine if the soil is acidic.

6. Add the Baking Soda

The final step to test the pH level of the lawn is to add baking soda to the mixture of soil and water. The step-by-step instructions to do this are given below.

  • Take the second bowl or container with the soil and water mix.
  • Add half a cup of baking soda to the mixture of soil sample and water.
  • Check for a visible fizzing or bubbling action.

If you see a bubbling or fizzing action after you add the baking soda to the soil and water mix, it means that the soil is acidic. The bubbling or fizzing is the result of the chemical reaction between an alkaline substance (baking soda) and an acidic substance (soil). If the fizzing is very pronounced, it means that the acidity of the soil is high.

The advantage of adding baking soda to the soil and water mix is that it helps you determine if your soil is the desired level or high level of acidic. A low amount of fizzing is not a cause to worry as most soils are slightly acidic as most plants prefer it, but if the fizzing action is vigorous, it is an indication that you need to make amendments to raise your soil pH or use only those plants that prefer a slightly higher range of acidity, in your landscape.

What is the purpose of taking a pH level test for a lawn?

The purpose of testing the pH level of a lawn is to determine the level of alkalinity or acidity of the soil. When we have an accurate measure of the soil pH level, it helps us decide which amendments to make and how much amendment is required to raise or lower the soil pH level to the desired range.

The purpose of testing soil pH is linked to the importance of correct soil pH. The right pH range for the soil facilitates microbial activity inside the soil, which is essential to ensure proper nitrogen release from the organic matter present in the soil and the fertilizers that are added to the soil. If the pH of the soil goes below 5, it will cause nutrient leaching as well as lead to an increase in the aluminum levels of the soil, making the soil toxic for plants. These are some of the reasons, among others, why maintaining soil pH at the correct range is essential.

The biggest advantage of taking a pH level test for a lawn is that it helps ensure the soil pH level is maintained at the right range or brought back to the preferred range by making appropriate amendments.

pH level test for a lawn

What materials are needed when taking a pH level test for a lawn?

According to the method mentioned above, the materials required to take a pH level test for a lawn are given below.

  • Spade: A spade is required to dig out the soil samples
  • Clean Metal Bucket: A clean metal bucket is required to place all the collected samples and then mix them
  • Newspaper: A newspaper is required to spread the soil sample to allow it to dry
  • 2 Cups: Two cups are required to divide the collected sample into two parts for the acidity and alkalinity tests
  • 2 Bowls or Containers: Two bowls are required to mix the two testing agents, vinegar and baking soda, separately
  • 1 Cup of Distilled Water: One cup of water is required to pour two half cups into separate bowls for acidity and alkalinity tests
  • ½ Cup of Vinegar: Half a cup of vinegar is required to test one part of the sample for alkalinity
  • ½ Cup of Baking Soda: Half a cup of baking soda is required to test the other part of the soil sample for acidity

What are tips on taking a pH level test for a lawn?

Some helpful tips for taking a soil pH test are given below.

  • Take soil samples from different areas of your landscape and then mix them well. This will give you a more accurate result for your landscape compared to the pH level for one area in your lawn. Collect a minimum of 10 samples.
  • Dig to a depth of at least 4 to 6 inches as the pH level is more even at a deeper level inside the soil than on the top.
  • Use the middle section of the soil sample you dig out for the test instead of the edges to avoid any externally contaminated soil.
  • Test dry soil instead of wet soil for more accurate results.
  • Use distilled water for mixing the soil as other types of water might not have a neutral pH and will skew the results.
  • Use glass bowls instead of plastic containers to avoid any reaction between the vinegar and the plastic.

When should we take a pH level test for a lawn?

Spring or early fall is a good time to test the pH of your lawn, as this allows enough time to make any amendments as required with lime and fertilizer applications. This will also allow the soil to absorb these applications and bring the pH level back to the desired range before the plants or turfgrass have to face the harsh conditions of summer and winter. The optimum pH level will allow for healthy growth, giving the grass and plants all the boost and energy they require to pass through summer and winter. Eden recommends conducting a soil pH test every three to four years so that you can remain informed of any changes that need to be made.

What are the different methods of taking a pH level test for a lawn?

The different methods of taking a pH level test for the lawn are using a soil test kit, colored dye soil pH testers, soil pH test strips, electronic soil pH testers, red cabbage, and with baking soda and white vinegar. For more information on these various methods of testing soil pH, you can read Eden’s article – Types of pH level testing for the lawn.

Maintaining the right soil conditions is essential for encouraging optimal and healthy growth of plants and turfgrass. For professional soil testing and expert recommendations to fix any deficiencies in the soil, you can contact Eden. If you have any other landscaping queries, feel free to contact Eden by visiting our website or via phone or email.

Lawn care is all in the details, and we take care of every single one to give you the lawn of your dreams. Contact us today!

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