What types of soil testing can I do?
The proper testing of your soil can help you decide how best to treat it for maximum growing capacity for your plants, garden, lawn and more. There are a few basic tests you can do yourself to find out about the water and mineral content, PH levels, texture, and density of your soil.
Color - Color testing can tell you about about the organic material in your soil, its fertility, and the way it drains water. This is important for treating your soil for your plants and flowers to flourish. To determine your soil's color, dig down 3-4 inches so that you can look at its color when moist and not dried out. Then, compare the color to a color chart to determine what it means.
PH Levels - The PH levels in your soil are important because certain plants, vegetables and flowers in your garden or yard need specific PH levels to thrive. A PH test will help you determine where your soil's levels are. To test the PH of your soil, simply use a PH Meter on a soil sample. PH meters are readily available at gardening supply or hardware stores.
Compaction - The soil's compaction level tells you a lot about how roots will develop and how water drains into and through the soil. Healthy soil shouldn't be too compact or it won't allow roots to breathe. Also, if the soil is too dense, water will run off the surface without sinking into the roots below.
Moisture - Plants require vastly different levels of moisture. In your analysis, keep in mind your climate and what types of plants you want to grow. To estimate your soil's moisture, just look at it and feel it. Does it seem to be retaining water? A more precise method would be to take it to a lab for analysis.