document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));

Soil Testing and Soil pH

One of the most neglected garden tasks is performing an annual or bi-annual soil testing. Each year many people plan to have their soil tested but never seem to get around to it. This may be that they think taking a soil sample is hard; it really isn't, but it is important to do it properly. A soil sample is a composite of your overall soil and its purpose is to help you identify then correct for deficiencies in your soil. 

    Just like humans, all plants require certain essential elements to grow and need the right balance of these essential elements to thrive.  Soil pH can impact how much of these essential elements are available to nourish the plants.  Measurement of pH is on a scale of 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. Below 7 is considered acidic and above 7 is alkaline.  A neutral or slightly acid soil pH of 6 or 7 is considered ideal for most plants, but some plants need more acidic soils to grow properly.  When soil goes to the extremes of the pH scale, the availability of some elements necessary for plant growth, such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, become bound in the soil and are less available for plants.  Conversely some elements such as boron and manganese can become more available and reach toxic levels.  

    Soil pH is influenced by many factors, such as the material that formed the soil to how much water from rain or irrigation filters down through the soil. When rocks broke down to become soil, basic rocks formed alkaline soils and acidic rocks formed acidic soils. As organic materials breakdown they  add their components to the soil. Some elements are more water soluble than others and can be leached out by heavy rains or excess irrigation. Soil is continually changing as elements are added or taken away. Here in the South, most soil is naturally acidic. 

     Luckily, the pH level of soil can easily be changed by the addition of organic matter, lime and/or fertilizers. Your local extension service will process your soil sample (for a varying fee) and provide you with an easily understood report detailing your soil deficiencies and how to correct them.  Since a lawn has different needs than a vegetable or flower garden, you will need to take separate samples for each area. Just be sure to mark the soil sample with what you will be growing: centipede grass, tomatoes, roses, etc.

                                                                                     Page 1 2 Next