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Does your yard have acidic soil? Learn to love gardening anyway

Look for acid-loving plants, such as conifers and rhododendrons, to help your low pH garden thrive.

Gardening success depends on understanding your soil. Some soils are more difficult to work than others, such as dry, sandy soils or heavy clay soils. Soils are classified by texture, depending on the amount of sand, silt, and clay. Find out your soil type with a DIY soil test.

In addition to soil texture, soil also has pH. Soil pH is important because it tells you, on a scale from 0 to 14, whether your soil is acidic or basic. Acidic soils have a pH of less than 6, while alkaline or basic soils have a pH of 7 or more. Most garden soils are in the neutral range (6 to 7), but your landscape may have areas with a higher or lower pH.

Why is pH important?

Soil pH affects how plants absorb nutrients. Although most plants can survive well in soil with different pH levels, there are some plants that actually require acidic soil to grow. The more common of these varieties known in the plant world as ericaceae include rhododendrons, blueberries, and other eastern woodland species.

In the United States, more acidic soils are found in areas with dense coniferous forests and abundant rainfall, such as the Pine Flatwoods of the Southeast, the Hemlock-Cedar Forests of New England, and the Pacific Northwest.

Likewise, you may already have pine trees or other coniferous trees on your property that contribute to soil acidification. Then Eric and the plants will thrive there. To find out, get a convenient soil pH test from your local hardware store. Then, connect the ericaceae plant to an area with acidic soil.

Soil acidity around conifers is due in part to the way ions are exchanged between the conifer roots and the surrounding soil. There is even debate among gardeners as to whether using pine needles as mulch will acidify the soil over time. Pine needles are acidic when they freshly fall from the tree, but lose their acidity within a few weeks. They have not been shown to dramatically change soil acidity.

Designing a garden with acidic soil

If you want to create a more formal garden, you can plant large quantities of rhododendrons, a member of the Rhododendron family, beneath towering conifers. This is a popular plant combination for lawn edging or thick borders in formal parterre style gardens.

This image, taken at the reserve garden in Buffalo NY USA, shows native, mountain- loving plants such as rhododendrons in the foreground. Rich, well-drained, acidic soil and filtered  sunlight create the perfect woodland environment for rhododendrons.

Create a woodland look in a shady space in your garden by layering ericaceous shrubs and ground covers beneath large conifers. Planting these three together gives you a variety of textures and heights that look organic.

Rhododendrons and conifers are not the only plants in the Rhododendron family. The photo shows highbush blueberries at their peak during the fall season. All plants belonging to the Vaccinium genus thrive in slightly acidic to highly acidic soils. Vaccinium includes excellent native plants that produce edible fruit.

✓ Lowbush blueberry
✓ Evergreen huckleberry
✓ American cranberry
✓ Red huckleberry

 Mountain laurel is an understory shrub native to the upland white pine forests. A truly stunning plant with large, showy white flower clusters. The flowers have intricate folds reminiscent of origami. It is an excellent native species for forest gardens as a bush or specimen. Its form is similar to that of a rhododendron, with slender, arched stems and narrow leaves.

Heather creates a romantic purple-pink ground cover. Heather plants are picky. To look best, it needs fertile, acidic soil, plenty of sunlight, good drainage and annual pruning. For a dramatic effect, plant it next to a walkway, in the ground cover of a woodland garden border, or in a drift on a hill.

Calluna vulgaris can also be used in rock gardens because once established, it can survive drought conditions as long as the soil is acidic and the plant’s roots are well developed.

A traditional Japanese garden features a variety of carefully selected and expertly shaped evergreen trees, many of which are rhododendron conifers. The photo shows a Japanese-style garden with rhododendron s blooming beneath towering pine trees. Japanese gardens celebrate the shapes and textures of various types of evergreens, shrubs, and trees. The price tags for these specialty varieties can be shocking because they are specialty plants ordered in limited quantities from nurseries. Look for Japanese red pine and cypress varieties suitable for medium-sized conifers. Once it’s established, grow more plants on your land by cutting special varieties of the plant. If you propagate and plant new plants every year, your investment will pay off over time.

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Experts in tree removal, stump  demolition, stump removal, tree trimming, tree mulching, tree pruning and emergency tree removal  in Buffalo, NY

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360' MoTo
360' MoTo
Great work! Highly recommended+++
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Hunter Vasanth
Well serives
anne gorman
anne gorman
I highly recommend RDK landscaping!
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Elisabeth Sageev
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