Whether you are starting a new garden or want to learn more about your soil, testing the soil’s pH level is an interesting and rewarding project. Soil pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of soil, which influences plants’ abilities to take up nutrients and the vitality of beneficial soil microbes.
Most plants grow best when the soil pH is in near-neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0, but there are exceptions. Blueberries and potatoes love acidic soil, so a pH below 7.0 (ideally, 4.5 to 5.5) will make them happy. Compost helps push the pH of any soil neutral, but soil minerals act faster. Garden lime applied to acidic soil will adjust the pH while garden sulfur makes soil less alkaline.
Test And Correct Your Soil’s pH:
- Test soil using a kit or battery-operated pH tester. Both make it easy to check the soil pH in different parts of your yard. Take samples four inches below the surface.
- Apply garden lime to raise the pH of very acidic soil. Use a digging fork to poke numerous holes in the soil’s surface, and then scatter on the lime. Follow label directions when deciding how much to use, and rake lightly into the top inch of soil.
- Apply small amounts of garden sulfur to lower the pH of extremely alkaline soil. Follow label directions when deciding how much to use. Mix in composted manure for lasting benefits.
- Wait until after the soil warms in spring to test your soil for positive changes. Lime and sulfur need time to work.
- Still not sure about your soil’s pH? Ask a Home Depot Garden Center associate for help. Your local Cooperative Extension Service also offers low cost soil tests.
Tip: Turn pink hydrangeas blue by adding soil acidifier to the soil around the plants.