A Look at Dirt’s pH Balance
The pH balance of your dirt refers to its acidity or alkalinity. Your dirt will fall somewhere on a scale ranging from 1.0 to 14.0. The lower the number, the more acidic your dirt is. Conversely, a higher number means your dirt is more alkaline. A reading of 7.0 is considered neutral. The pH of your dirt is important because certain nutrients are only made available to your plants if the dirt is within a certain pH range.
For those most part, a score of 6.2 – 6.8 is considered to be ideal.
Some plants, such as heathers, rhododendrons, and blueberries, prefer soil that is very acidic. On the other hand, plants such as clematis and lilacs prefer alkaline soil. To determine the pH level of your dirt, you can purchase testing kits from your home improvement or garden store. Your Cooperative Extension office may also be willing to come out and test your dirt for a small fee.
Amending the pH
If your dirt is not within the proper range for the plants you will be planting, you can purchase additives to help make it more acidic or alkaline. Adding lime to your dirt will help increase the alkalinity, while adding sulfur will decrease it.
It does, however, take time to change the pH of dirt. It should also be done in stages in order to prevent shocking your plants if you already have some planted. In general, it is best to add about five pounds of sulfur or lime to 100 square feet of garden. If you still haven’t added your plants, however, you can add much more in order to get it to the proper pH level.
Keep in mind, however, that your dirt t will change back to its natural pH level if you do not continue to treat it.