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Alkaline Soil

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by CT18fireman, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611

    Hey guys

    I am dealing with some beds for a customer. They have never gotten anything to flower. It does ok growing but does not flower. I am talking pretty basic stuff, rhodis, azalaes etc. They have feed eveything with typical plant fertilizers etc. Their lawn looks great. I got called in last fall for a leaf cleanup and this year have taken on all the maintenance.

    I took a soil test and it came back with a high ph or ALKALINE SOIL. All the areas around here tend to be old farm land and have pretty good soil or a little acidic. This house borders marshland but I am not sure if that has an impact. They told me when the landscape was put in 5-6 years ago the site loam and soil was used.

    Short of bringing in all new topsoil what other options are out there? I got some ideas from my local wholesale nursery (did the test for me) but I am looking for ideas or products that maybe aren't known around here.
  2. treemonkey

    treemonkey LawnSite Member
    Messages: 178

    I wonder why the beds are alkaline vs. the surrounding native soil? Maybe the addition of alkaline compost or something else?

    I have seen aluminum sulfate recommended for bringing soil ph down. But, more common is the use of granular sulfur (usually around 90%). The sulfur breaks down into acid and modifies the soil. It doesn't happen over night and you have to be careful about rates.

    Because of such great differences in regional soils (cation exchange, texture, etc.) it is wise to have your soil tested at a regional lab (Land Grant University?). Tell them what crop you plan on and their computer printout will give you "cookbook" recommendations for the amount and type (topdress/incorporate) of application. There are organic amendments also.

    A standard soil test should be under $12 and it will also show other elements and possible deficiencies. Soil fertility management is not unlike disease management. It's best to find out what your dealing with first (the whole picture) instead of trying the "hit or miss" approach.
  3. NCLCRB #1370

    NCLCRB #1370 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    You can try amending the beds with a pine mulch. Till in very fine pine compost. This stuff is fairly acidic and it really improves soil texture and drainage. How did the test results for phosphorus look?
  4. NCLCRB #1370

    NCLCRB #1370 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Rhododendron species including azaleas require more acidic conditions than other usable or acceptable species. If you cannot fix the pH issue, then try re-planting with a species that can tolerate higher Ph readings.
  5. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425

    You'll never have chit until you plant all plantings in 50% or better living, breathing compost and all its attendant beneficial organisms and time release nutrients. Top off with your favorite mulch prior planting-in, though. Then you don't need to worry about soil conditions - especially when you write your contract to feature a non-native plant clause.

    Good luck otherwise
  6. Focal Point Landscapes

    Focal Point Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 401

    I don't think th ph is your problem , especially if they are fertilizing with a camellia ,azalea and rhododendron fert like miracid - I agree with an earlier post that questioned the phosphorous level.
  7. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

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