How to Test Your Soil

(Without Spending any Money)

Here are seven quick ways on how to test your soil. This gives you an indication what you are working with before starting a garden.

Other options include soil testing methods which include purchasing soil testing kits or sending a sample to a professional soil testing lab.

Other DIY tips for gardening that may be of interest include:
Homemade Weed Killer

Test your own soil for free

1) A quick check on how to test soil is to hold a well crumbled amount of soil to your nose and smell it. If it smells sour or vinegary it's likely soil is acidic.

2) Grab a jar from your kitchen. Put equal amounts of dry soil and white vinegar into the jar. Put the lid on and shake well. After removing the lid, hold the jar to your ear. If you hear a loud, fizzing sound your soil is very alkaline.

3) Get a tablespoon of wet garden soil and sprinkle a pinch of baking soda on it (baking soda is acidic/sour). If there is fizzing, soil is acidic.

4) Get a tablespoon of wet garden soil and sprinkle vinegar on it. If vinegar fizzes, the soil is alkaline. The louder the fizz you hear, the higher the pH.

5) To determine the type of soil you have, roll a clump of soil in your hand forming a cylinder.

  • Heavy Clay will pack nicely like a worm.

  • Clay Loam - Stays relatively in one piece, but will crumble if pressure is applied.

  • Sandy Loam - Will hardly stay together.

  • Sandy - This will not take shape at all.

6) Grab another jar from the kitchen and fill it two-thirds full with water. Add small clumps of soil until the water reaches the top of the jar. After covering jar, shake vigorously then set it down and wait about a day.

What you will see:

  • Sandy soil will settle first.
  • Silty soil will settle second.
  • Clay soil will settle last.

Different types of soil bloom different colors

7) If you already have a garden and have some Hydrangea plants, look at the color of the blooms. The color may have changed from when you first purchased them.

  • Blue Blooms - Indication of Acidic Soil.

  • Purple Blooms - Indication of Neutral Soil.

  • Pink Blooms - Indication of Alkaline Soil.

Related Articles on how to test your soil:

Organic Mulch Types - This list includes Mulch along with Soil Amendments that can cross over and used as garden mulch.

Inorganic Mulch Types - This list makes up products that are man made such as black rubber mulch.

Back to How to Kill Weeds

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