Solutions to Soil Problems: Soil Acidity


Soil pH

          Rhododendrons
  Rhododendrons are very tolerant of acid soils and grow best in soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5.
Photo credit: Uwe Fischer Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
 
 

Influence of soil pH on the relative availability of plant nutrients in a typical mineral soil.

  Influence of soil pH on the relative availability of plant nutrients in a typical mineral soil.
Image source: Chart of the Effects of Soil pH on Nutrient Availability
 

Surface application of lime to a field. Plants should be irrigated after lime application to ensure the foliage is free of the amendment.

  Surface application of lime to a field. Plants should be irrigated after lime application to ensure the foliage is free of the amendment.

Solutions to Soil Problems: High pH


        

Iron chlorosis, or iron deficiency in plants, causes yellowing of leaves while the veins remain green.

Iron chlorosis, or iron deficiency in plants, causes yellowing of leaves while the veins remain green. Photo source: Charlotte’s Place Landscape and Interior Decor Consultant

 

Sphagnum peat moss comes from formerly living sphagnum growing in bogs.

Sphagnum peat moss comes from formerly living sphagnum growing in bogs. Photo credit: lastonein Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

Sphagnum peat moss comes from formerly living sphagnum growing in bogs.

Popular climbing clematis vines, grow well in high pH soils. Photo credit: Qsimple Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Soil pH

Soil pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity (basicity) of a soil, and is reported as …

Practices to Improve Drainage


         

Water lilies are a commonly-grown hydrophyte in backyard ponds. Source: Wikipedia CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

 

Honey locust is tolerant of poorly-drained soils. Photo credit: geneva_wirth Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Adequate soil drainage is critical for good plant growth. Some plants such as hydrophytes, or water-loving plants, are physiologically adapted to thrive in saturated Hydrophytes have extensive air channels that allow gases to move freely through the plant. Most garden and landscape plants do not fit into this category.

Poor soil drainage …

Reducing Soil Compaction to Improve Drainage

Soil compaction is any process that compresses soil particles and reduces pore or air space between them. This process reduces or eliminates water infiltration and can cause runoff and erosion.

Plant roots may have a harder time penetrating the soil and may not get enough oxygen and nutrients. Soil compaction occurs in agricultural as well as urban landscapes.

Ways to Reduce Compaction

  • Avoid tilling wet soil
  • Keep construction equipment off of soils around tree roots
  • Avoid overworking the soil

Ways

Good Soil Structure


         
  Dr. Dave Lindbo of NC State University discusses soil structure
 
  Example of a soil ped. Photo credit: Soil Science Flickr CC BY 2.0
   
   

Good soil structure is important for determining how soil particles bond to each other, how porous soils are, and how they respond to compaction.

Soils in the human landscape are often disturbed leading to drainage problems and low levels of organic matter.

Soil is made of different sized particles of sand, silt …

Materials to Improve Drainage in Soil


         
  Poorly drained clay soil 
Photo credit:London Permaculture Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
 
 

Mixing manure into clay soil
Photo credit: Kathleen Farley Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Materials to improve drainage in soil include organic or inorganic amendments. Organic amendments have the added capability of providing additional organic matter and nutrients.

Amendments can include bark and wood chips, compost,and pea gravel, depending on soil type. Note that mixing wood products into soil can tie up nitrogen availability. Additional nitrogen fertilizer may be necessary.…