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Free Soil pH (acidity/alkalinity) Testing at The Hopkinton Garden Club Plant Sale


Free soil pH testing by The Massachusetts Master Gardener Association’s (MMGA) trained volunteers will be offered at the Hopkinton Garden Club’s Plant Sale on Saturday, May 7, 8:00 AM to 12:00/Noon at the Hopkinton Town Common – Park Street side, due to on-going construction.


One of the most important components of a healthy garden is good soil. pH (a numeric score indicating soil acidity or alkalinity) is one measure of soil health. When pH is too low or too high, plants cannot access needed nutrients which may already be present in the soil, negatively impacting plant performance. 


Is your grass doing poorly because it needs more nitrogen because it needs lime to reduce the soil's acidity? How about your garden/flower beds?  Whether you are an organic or nonorganic gardener, a soil test is an easy and inexpensive way to make certain your soil is in good shape for whatever you want to grow in your lawn and gardens, and soil tests can save you money.   




Different areas may have different pH levels, e.g. lawn vs flower beds, vs vegetable gardens.  To submit different areas for testing, collect separate samples.   


EQUIPMENT:  a spade, shovel, or trowel, one or more clean buckets (ie:  one bucket for the lawn and a separate bucket for your flower beds)  



  1. Dig a hole for sampling (~6-8" deep for garden beds, 4-6" deep for lawns, and 8 - 10" for trees and shrubs).

  2. Collect soil from the top, middle and bottom of the hole; place in a bucket.   

  3. Repeat, digging 5 to 10 holes per sample.

  4. Combine all soil samples from the same area and mix thoroughly, removing any stones, sticks, or roots. 

  5. Let the soil dry out for a few days in the bucket.  Soil MUST be dry for testing.

  6. Put approximately 1/2 cup of dry soil into a plastic bag, labeled with the name of the area the sample was taken. 

  7. If submitting more than one sample, repeat steps 1-6.


Different plants have different pH requirements: in addition to your pH results, you will receive a 2-page fact sheet listing the optimum pH for over 200 plants.  For participants who need to adjust their pH, you will be provided a sheet of suggestions for the use of limestone (to raise) and sulfur (to lower) readings. 


If test results indicate the need for a more comprehensive soil test, they will provide information on services offered by the UMass Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Lab.

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