What Is the Right Soil pH for Your Lawn or Garden?

By: Julie Day

What’s the best soil pH for my yard and garden?

pH is a measure of acidity (or alkalinity) in your soil, and it’s a very important factor in plant health. To determine the pH of your soil, you can purchase inexpensive soil test kits at home improvement centers or obtain more detailed analysis and recommendations through your local Cooperative Extension Service.

The ideal soil pH varies from plant to plant, but here’s a general guide to help you get started.


Do-it-yourself pH meter for your soil.

Ideal Soil

A pH of 7 is neutral, with lower numbers indicating acid soil, and higher numbers indicating alkaline soil. When in doubt, slightly acidic soil – in the 6.0 to 6.9 range – is considered ideal. In this range, you will have:

  • Happy Microbes: The microscopic organisms that transfer nutrients from the soil to your plants roots are most active in neutral to acidic soil.
  • Fewer Toxins: Many toxic metals, such as aluminum, are more chemically bound up in this pH range, which makes them less likely to be absorbed by the plants.
  • Healthy Plants: On average, most lawns, flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and trees are happy at this pH.

pH for Specific Plants

Soil pH varies from region to region, and even from front yard to back yard. Depending on the conditions in your yard, you may be limited in how much you can alter your soil. To save your sanity, choose foundation trees and shrubs that are well suited for the natural conditions of your soil to minimize your work in the future!

Research into the ideal soil pH for specific plants gives some varying results, because it’s difficult to control every aspect of the growing conditions. However, it’s important to know the pH range of the plants you’re growing, so that you can choose plants suited to your natural conditions.

For example, blueberries and azaleas like more acidic soil, while lilacs can handle more alkaline soil. Most vegetables do best with a pH closer to 6, while different varieties of lawn grasses can range in pH values from 5.5 to 7.5.

Check out some of the websites below for more specific information about plants in your yard.

Further Information

Julie

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