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How do I find out my garden soil's pH? There seems to be a variety of possible "problem" acids, either too much alkaline or nitrogen so how can I best resolve the soil to make it more "friendly" for different plantings?

My front garden bed seems to be a problem with new rose plantings (18 months now and struggling) and annuals (e.g. pansies, english daisy).

Submitted: 03:27PM, 07 Mar 2010
Answer: Dear Gloria,
It is possible to test the pH of your soil by purchasing a pH kit and determining yourself what the pH is. Otherwise, you can take some soil samples up to your local nursery who I am sure would be happy to do the testing for you.

If your soil pH is too high or too low, some elements may not be available to your plants. All nutrients are available to your plants when the pH is between 6.0 and 7.0, with the best availablility at pH 6.5. Most plants will grow happily if the pH is between 6.0 and 7.0 There are however some plants such as azaleas, camellias, gardenias that prefer a more acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 – 5.5. Most vegetables will grow well in soils with a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0.

Lime contains calcium and can be used to raise the pH of acid soils. Agricultural lime is the best to use. Dolomite Lime can also be used.

The product to use to lower the pH of alkaline soil is sulphur however it is not possible to lower the ph of soils with a pH above 8.3. Yates Acitone, which contains aluminium sulphate and iron sulphate, will lover pH when applied in accordance with the directions.

Once you are aware of the pH of your soil, you can then take steps to either increase it or decrease it. It could be that your plants are growing poorly because of this reason. On the other hand, it could be that you may just need to increase the nutrient levels for them to perform better.

If you are interested in knowing more about your soils and creating a garden to your liking, I would suggest you have a look at the Yates Garden Guide. It is an excellent publication which give you all the information you need to create and maintain a garden that you can relax in and enjoy.

Answered: 10:48AM, 11 Mar 2010


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