Organic methods to acidify high pH soil

Asked May 27, 2020, 2:34 PM EDT

I just enjoyed an article from MSU on adding elderberry to the home garden and noticed the plant prefers a pH around 6 - 6.5. I had county extension soil tests a few years back when moving to this old farmstead, testing three separate areas of the yard, and was surprised to see the pH range from 7.3 to 7.8. I have learned of many plants and some trees that will tolerate or prefer alkaline growing conditions. The trees so far are English Oaks and Bosnian Pine, and smoke bush. Clematis vines do well here. Can you help with more tree and shrub selections, please, and also organic methods of lowering pH? I understand high ratios of compost in the soil help to buffer pH. Is this the best organic option? Kind regards, Lynn Moss

Bay County Michigan

1 Response

Sulfur is an organic addition to garden soil. Here is a reference to guide you since you already know you’re Soil‘s pH. You will have to periodically retest and add more sulfur.
Here are some plant lists for alkaline soils. There are many plants that tolerate pH in the range you have.
There are organic brands of garden amendments and using those will help, too. Espoma and Miracle-Gro have organic products as do many other brands. MSU Extension does not endorse any brands, these are just examples.
Organic matter at 5% of total soil composition is desirable because, as you noted, it does help hold nutrients, water, and encourage microbial and soil insect activity, which helps release nutrients for plants.