Forget the pH Meter, Look at the Trees! Finding a Suitable Outdoor Planting Location.
by, 06-25-2010 at 12:54 PM (526 Views)
It's always a good idea to know what your proper soil pH is. We often overlook this with container grows as we're using properly balanced soils, but if you've lived in an area with alkaline soil you know what I mean. If you've never given acidity or alkalinity a thought it's all too easy to assume things are good only to find your plants with slow growth.
If you plan to plant an area for any extended period of time professional testing is your best bet, as you'll not only determine the pH, but the nutrient levels of your soil. If you happen to live in an agricultural area you can probably call your local cooperative extension office for this. Generalized information about your region is usually available for free and professional soil quality tests are often offered for a nominal fee. Without one of these can be much more expensive.
My general rule of thumb has always been Forests are acidic and grasslands are nuetral to alkaline, as well the older the vegetation the more acidic the area has become. So while a dominant deciduous & grass area is alkaline to neutral (8.0-7.0), a pine forest may be neutral to mildly acidic (7.0-6.0), and a dominant hardwood forest at the highly acidic level (6.0 or less). A pre-dominantly pine forest, with few deciduous trees, and some hardwood trees is what we're looking for here. Forests with many hardwoods are often very old and very acidic, and plains or heavily deforested areas may be to new and relatively alkaline.
So forget the meter, and take a look around your environment to see what the dominant species are. These are the species that are closest to their favored pH level. With this information at hand and their particular requirements you can reasonably guess your soil quality without spending much time or money.
Soil pH and Tree Species
A Forest is... a look at what makes a forest
Soil Profile and Forest Map Study