Adjusting Soil pH in Your Garden

When planting a new tree, it’s always worth paying some attention to the pH of your soil to ensure that this matches up with your new tree’s growing requirements. Some trees, such as the Queensland Bottle Tree, do best in a slightly acidic pH, while others, such as the Avocado Tree, prefer a more neutral pH.

What happens if you plant a tree into soil that doesn’t offer the correct pH level? It’s simple – that tree will fail to thrive. Not only will it struggle to keep itself nourished, but the wrong pH could also cause that tree to develop a variety of health issues.

Fortunately, adjusting soil pH is easy. Here’s what you need to know:


Measuring Soil pH

Before trying to adjust the pH of your soil, you’ll need to work out what its natural pH actually is. After all, if you’re lucky, it might just match up to what your new tree needs, meaning that no adjustments will be necessary.

The best way to measure soil pH is with a pH meter. These handheld devices are simple to use and there are some that are relatively inexpensive. There are a few DIY tests that you could try too, but they won’t be quite as accurate as an official pH meter.


Increasing Soil pH

If your soil is on the acidic side and you’re growing plants that prefer neutral or alkaline conditions, such as the Yucca Rostrata, then you’ll need to increase the pH of your soil.

The easiest way to do this is by adding a form of lime to your soil, with ground agricultural limestone being a common amendment. Try to go for a product that’s as finely ground as possible – the smaller the particles, the faster they’ll be able to adjust the pH of your soil. It’s also important for your soil to be damp before you apply any lime, as moisture is needed for that important pH reaction to take place.


Decreasing Soil pH

If your soil is on the alkaline side of the scale and you need to acidify it, sulfur or aluminium sulfate will do the job for you. Sulfur takes a little time to work, whereas aluminium sulfate alters pH pretty much instantly.

Make sure that you follow the recommended guidelines of the product you purchase when it comes to application ratios, since overdoing it could end up causing more harm than good.


Can Lemon Juice or Vinegar Be Used to Decrease Soil pH?

Technically, yes, both lemon juice and vinegar will lower the pH of soil. However, both ingredients will also destroy the beneficial bacteria in your soil, not to mention create an inhospitable environment for beneficial insects. Plus, if either ends up splashing onto your plants, they could lead to severe burns.

It may be tempting to go with a DIY option, but, for best results, use one of the recommended methods above when trying to adjust your soil pH. Go slow and keep your pH meter to hand to track your progress – it’ll let you know once your soil pH is where you need it to be, after which you can plant your new tree without any concerns!


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