Soil pH has become a bit of a buzzword in the gardening world, but what does it actually mean, and why is it important?
The pH scale is simply a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is, when it comes to soil this is important because it can have a big impact on how well plants or grass grow. Luckily most plants are fairly tolerant to soils of varying acidity.
Whilst this might be considered pretty advanced stuff, especially for an amatuer gardener, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a basic understanding should you wish for any reason to investigate it further in the future.
The Effect of pH on Nutrient Uptake
Typically a lawn absorbs its nutrients from the soil in the form of a solution including water from the soil. If this solution is too heavily acidic or alkaline then certain nutrients will not be absorbed into the water, meaning less nutrition for the grass. If the pH of the soil is less than 6.0, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are less likely to dissolve into the water. Likewise a pH any greater than 7.5 will inhibit manganese, and iron from dissolving properly.
Soil pH and Your Location
Depending on where you are in the world your soil pH will vary considerably. The amount of rainfall, temperature and types of vegetation present will all have an effect on the overall acidity of your soil. For example in the American Midwest where rainful is sparce the soil tends to be fairly pH neutral, in northern Europe and the north west of the US where rainful is more frequent soils tend to be more acidic.
Changing the pH of the Soil
Whilst it is possible to make changes to your soil pH with composts and other additives, the best success will come from selecting plants and grass that are tolerant to the pH of your soil. You can test your soil pH with a home test kit, and then match the plant life accordingly, you might be surprised at which plants will grow in your soil and which won’t!