The pH level of garden soil for your vegetable or flower gardens is a measure of the acidity or alkaline properties based on the hydrogen ion concentration. Levels range from 1 to 14, with 1 through 6 being acidic, 7 representing neutral and numbers over 7 are basic or alkaline soil. Performing a soil test for pH levels with pH paper helps you choose plants that do well in your soil type for the best growth and performance without soil amendments.
Put on gardening gloves to avoid contaminating the soil samples.
Dig a small circle in the soil test area with a sharpshooter shovel. Dig straight down 4 to 6 inches deep for perennials, vegetables, fruits and shrubs. Dig two additional holes in the same manner in the soil test area.
Remove the top half of the soil from each hole and lay it aside. Place the bottom half of the soil from each hole into a clean, dry bucket.
Pluck out any grass clippings, stones or hard matter from the soil samples, while thoroughly mixing them together.
Measure one tablespoon of soil and place it in a plastic cup. Add 1/4 cup of distilled water to the cup. Swirl the cup to mix the contents. Allow the sample to settle for about a minute.
Insert one end of a soil pH paper into the contents. Compare the color of the sample against the pH chart on either the box or a chart inside the box, depending on the brand of pH test kit.