The pH level of soil is used to indicate its level of acidity or alkalinity. Whether you’re planning to grow grass, tulips or any other plant life, you need to ensure it has a proper, balanced pH level.
If it’s too acidic or too alkaline, you’ll struggle to grow plants. So, what’s the ideal pH level for soil and how do you know what your landscape’s pH level is?
The pH Scale
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. The powerful and highly alkaline cleaning chemical bleach, for instance, typically sits at 12 on the pH scale. In comparison, lemons sit at 2 on the pH scale. Water, however, is neutral with a pH level of 7. The key thing to remember is that lower pH levels are more acidic, whereas higher pH levels are more alkaline.
How To Test Soil pH Levels
There are several ways to test the pH levels of your soil, one of which is to use a disposable testing strip. Available at most home improvement and gardening stores, these one-time-use strips are designed to reveal the pH level of soil. You can place the strip into the soil, at which point it reveals a number corresponding to its level on the pH scale.
Alternatively, you can use a reusable pH tester. While they typically cost more than their disposable strip counterparts, reusable testers are more accurate at revealing the precise pH level.
A third option is to test your soil with a cup of vinegar. After scooping a small amount of soil, place it into a bowl or container and add ½ cup of vinegar. If it begins to bubble and fizz, the pH is between 7 and 8. Of course, this method is least accurate, and it only reveals pH levels between 7 and 8. Nonetheless, it’s also one of the easiest methods, as it doesn’t require any special tools or equipment.
What’s the Right pH Level for Plants?
Now for the million-dollar question: what’s the ideal pH level for plants to grow? Well, it varies depending on the specific species/variety of plant, as some prefer acidic environments and others prefer alkaline.
With that said, most North American native plants prefer soil with a pH level of between 5.5 and 7.0. As long as your soil falls somewhere in this range, it shouldn’t cause any problems.
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