Have you ever energetically planted a beautifully organized garden, colorful flower beds, or found the perfect tree for your yard, only to have them struggle to grow or look sickly and wilted? Even with all of your best efforts, you may be fighting a losing battle if your soil’s Ph levels are not in sync with the needs of your plants.
Many of us have no idea what a Ph level is, let alone why we should care about it or what we can do to modify it. If you find yourself in this group then have no fear and read on to discover some tips and tricks to work with your soil’s Ph level and you will find your gardening and landscaping efforts have not been in vain.
In basic terms, all soil has a Ph level which is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity.
The scale runs 0-14, with a Ph of 7 being neutral. A lower number indicates the presence of more acidity, and a higher number means higher alkalinity. There are many factors that go into what makes the Ph of different soils, including the originating materials of the soil, how much precipitation your area receives annually, etc. A good rule of thumb is that most plants will thrive with Ph conditions around a 6.5, or just slightly acidic.
So why should you care about your soil’s Ph level? Simply states, different minerals and nutrients in the soil are released or withheld from your plants at different Ph levels.
For example, if there is not enough acidity in the soil conditions, the iron that a plant needs to absorb is not available. By simply raising the acidity level of the soil, then plant can then begin to properly absorb sufficient iron levels to keep it healthy and thriving.
Now that you know what Ph level is and how it can affect plant growth, you may be asking how do I apply this knowledge in my own yard?
The answer is actually pretty simple! Many landscaping and gardening centers will have an at home Ph test kit that can be purchased. Simply follow the directions on the kit to discover your soil’s Ph level. Then, you can set about getting your Ph level within your desired range.
In general, applying limestone to your soil is a good way to raise the Ph level. Oppositely, adding some sulfur to your soil will lower the Ph level. Once you have achieved a Ph in your desired range, your job is not 100% complete. Monitoring these levels is something that you will want to continue to do over time, as they can continue to shift. Watching the growth and vibrancy of your plants will give you a good indicator if it is a time for a quick check of your soil’s Ph levels.