How to use a PH meter for soil

Updated April 17, 2017

Since every plant has its own pH preference, all gardeners should know how to use a soil pH meter. These devices differ from liquid pH meters and can give a fast and accurate reading on the pH of your soil.

Buy a soil pH meter. Some of these devices come with two probes that stick in the ground, while others come with a single probe. Others are handheld tools into which you place a sampling of soil. If you want a longer lifespan on your device as well as more accurate results, do not simply buy the cheapest soil pH meter available.

Check the instructions that come with your soil pH meter. The manufacturers will know best how to calibrate and use your device.

Rinse the soil meter's probe in distilled water before placing it in a solution of pH 7. Allow at least 30 seconds for the probe to remain in the solution so the meter can stabilise, and then adjust the meter so that it reads pH 7.

Rinse once again and then place it into a pH 4 solution, giving time for the meter reading to stabilise. Adjust the meter so that it reads pH 4. Your meter has now been calibrated.

Rinse the probe once again as you have done before and shake off any excess liquid. The probe is now ready to be placed in your soil sample.

After allowing the pH reading to settle as you have done before, take the pH reading of your sample.


Do not reuse your calibration solutions or pour them back into your solution bottles, thereby contaminating unused solution.

Things You'll Need

  • soil pH meter
  • calibration solutions
  • sample soil
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About the Author

William Jackson has written, reported and edited professionally for more than 10 years. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, high-level government reports, books and online. He holds a master's degree in humanities from Pennsylvania State University.