How can I change the pH

Acid soil without peat: how to lower the pH in the soil

If the pH of the soil is too high, it affects plants that prefer acidic soil in a number of ways. In order to create optimal soil conditions for these specimens, the pH value (Potentia Hydrogenii) in the potting soil. This can be done in different ways. Peat used to be a common product against alkaline soils. Today, for certain reasons, it should no longer be used. Thanks to effective alternatives, peat should have had its day and equally effective alternatives should be used. In the following you will find out how to create an acidic environment in your soil.


No peat to lower the pH value

Many hobby gardeners swear by peat soil. It works effectively for a change from alkaline to acidic soils and also has some other advantages for plants. However, it also has disadvantages. One of the most serious is the environmental damage caused by peat mining.

The origin of peat lies in moors. These are often completely drained in order to gain as much raw materials as possible for peat soil. As a result, countless plant and animal species lose their natural habitat. Moors do not regenerate, so that fewer and fewer habitats are created as a result of the degradation. If you want to contribute to the protection of animals and plants, do without peat products, even if these are only offered in reduced quantities or as low-peat goods, which can still contain up to 80 percent peat.

pH too high?

The pH value of garden soils influences the availability of minerals and trace elements that are in the soil. For example, plants can better absorb minerals such as iron, zinc and copper in acidic soil because they can dissolve there better. If the pH value is too high, symptoms of deficiency can occur and, in the worst case, plants can die.
If your plants show typical symptoms that suggest a lack of nutrients, it is urgently advisable to determine the pH of the soil.

Tip: The simplest method for determining the pH value is to use commercial test kits that are available from home improvement stores and specialist gardeners.

The following values ​​are a guideline for an ideal acidic environment with different soil conditions:
  • Light soils: pH values ​​between 5.3 and 5.7
  • Medium-heavy soils: pH values ​​between 5.7 and 6.5
  • Heavy soils: pH values ​​between 6.3 and 6.9 (from 6.5 acidic to neutral)
  • If the Potentia Hydrogenii is 7.0, this is referred to as a neutral milieu
  • From a Potentia Hydrogenii of 7.1, the milieu slowly changes into the alkaline range

How to lower the pH

There are two ways to lower the pH in the soil. On the one hand this can be done through organic means, on the other hand through chemical substances.

Organic means

With the help of organic material, such as compost or composted manure, the soil pH value can be lowered. However, it should be noted that the effect only occurs gradually.

Organic materials take time to get to the process of formation of acidic by-products. First the material decomposes and bacteria and other microbes grow. These feed on the organic matter and subsequently develop the acidic by-products. The more microbes there are, the lower the pH. This method is ideal for long-term results for lowering the pH value of the soil. If a quick effect is required, the soil should not be influenced by organic agents.

Mulch from conifers
Conifers play a big role in lowering soil pH levels. Their wood as well as their needles offer an ideal opportunity to use as mulch to ensure a more acidic soil. Proceed as follows:

  • Shred softwood (can be different types of softwood)
  • Mix in needles
  • Crushed oak leaves enhance the effect
  • Organic nitrogenous fertilizers also promote the effect
  • The mulch layer should be applied around five centimeters to the surface of the earth

Leaf foliage of oaks
The foliage of oaks has an above-average low (acidic) Potentia Hydrogenii. When using it, it is important that it is compost made entirely from oak leaves. Only in this way can it release more and more acid as it decomposes.

Tip: If you don't have oak trees in your garden, you'll find them mainly in parks.

Coniferous earth
Coniferous earth is usually an organic waste. Instead of throwing it away or letting it rot on the compost between other materials, it can help lower the pH. This can be done with a relatively small amount of work:

  • Sweep up the surface of the earth around the conifer with a rake
  • Remove a few centimeters of the surface of the earth around the conifer trunk
  • Mix the swept up coniferous soil with the dug up
  • Then work it into the soil at the desired location
  • If the required acid value is not achieved, repeat the process

Grape marc
Grape marc is the natural residue left after pressing grapes to make wine products. Accordingly, grape marc is usually only available from winemakers.
The waste product contains a lot of pure grape acid and fermentation substances, which create more acidic soil conditions.

Coffee grounds

Coffee grounds contain organic binders and have a slightly acidic pH. To make soils with coffee grounds more acidic, a lot of coffee grounds should be laid out on the surface of the earth at regular, short intervals or worked into the soil. A faster and more effective effect can be achieved if the coffee grounds are enriched beforehand as described below:

  • Mix in crushed softwood and / or needles
  • Chop the oak leaves and mix in
  • Add organic nitrogen fertilizer

Chemical subsidence

Chemical techniques usually show their effects much faster than organic methods of lowering.

Aluminum sulfate
Aluminum sulfate is considered to be one of the fastest-acting agents for lowering Potentia Hydrogenii. When it is introduced into the earth, it dissolves and produces acid. It is ideal when quick results are required, for example because plants are to be saved from dying.

When using aluminum sulfate, it is important that the dose is well matched to the existing pH values ​​and the plants present. If too much is administered, an environment that is too low can quickly arise, which can damage plants just as much as a value that is too high. To reduce the value by one point from 7.5 to 6.5, for example, you should calculate about 0.54 kilograms of aluminum sulfate per three square meters of surface.

Iron sulfate
As a salt from sulfuric acid, iron sulfate is used to lower pH values. It works quickly within 14 days because it quickly develops acid and releases it into the soil.

Tip: Be careful when handling iron sulfate. It can leave unsightly and permanent rust stains on clothing, stones and paving stones.

Sublimated sulfur
Compared to iron and aluminum sulfate, sublimed sulfur acts much slower to lower the pH value. In some cases it can take months for the soil to become more acidic. This is based on the fact that the sulfur obtained from the sulfur bloom has to undergo a metabolism by bacteria in order to achieve a conversion into sulfuric acid.

This is mainly influenced by humidity and temperatures. If these are not optimal, an effect can be a long time coming. To guide the dose, the following applies: around 90 grams of sublimed sulfur on three square meters per pH decrease of 1.0.

Pure sulfur
The use of pure sulfur is ideal for highly compacted soils. This is very similar in effect to peat and has been effective for months. Since even pure sulfur needs time to increase the acidity in the soil, it is advisable to work it into the soil early in autumn so that it creates optimal acidity for the planting in the following year.

Coated urea with sulfur
Urea is a natural urea that is mainly used as a fertilizer. Coated with sulfur, you can add nitrogen to your plants as well as take advantage of the benefits of sulfur. Both lower the Potentia Hydrogenii. The effect is accelerated by urea.

The amount of sulfur depends on the product in question. The ideal fertilizer is that it dissolves slowly. This has a more positive effect on the reduction in the acidic range than a product that releases all components at the same time.

Other chemical agents
The following have also proven to be as effective as the chemical measures already mentioned against an excessively alkaline soil:

  • Diammonium phosphate
  • Ammonium nitrate

Alternative planting method

Very slow results in terms of lowering the pH value are to be expected with the plant method. To do this, plant certain specimens in the alkaline, basic soil that prefer or tolerate it for growth. If these die and remain in the ground, organic materials develop, which in turn promote the development of bacteria. The soil relationship becomes more acidic.

This is not only the slowest way to acidify the soil, but also quite expensive, because suitable plants are usually perennial specimens. These include, for example:

  • Various evergreen bushes such as boxwood or Californian lilac species
  • Some deciduous bushes and shrubs such as lilac and some species of forsythia
  • Many perennials such as ice thorn or hellebore

Irrigation water

Lime favors alkaline soil conditions. If a more acidic environment is to be created, lime should be avoided accordingly. This applies above all to the irrigation water. Normal tap water contains lime. Watering with stale or pure rainwater is helpful in lowering the pH. However, it will not achieve great results on its own, so it only makes sense to support the methods mentioned here.