Soil pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the soil is. Soil that measures above 7 on the pH scale is alkaline, while soil that measures below 7 is acidic. Most garden soils are slightly acidic because of the presence of carbonic acid from decaying organic matter and nitrous oxide from ammonia-containing minerals in the soil.
This makes it difficult for plants that prefer more alkaline environments to grow. However, there are some plants that thrive in more acidic soils and you can help them by lowering your soil’s pH using vinegar.
Let’s take a look at how to lower pH in soil with vinegar as well as why you would want to do this.
Why Lower Soil pH with Vinegar?
There are many reasons why you might want to lower the pH of your soil, but the most common is to improve soil conditions for plants that prefer more alkaline soils like rhododendrons and blueberries. Soil with a high pH hinders the growth of these plants, so you can use vinegar to correct this.
Acids help to break down minerals in the soil, making it easier for plants to absorb nutrients and grow. You can also use vinegar to boost the effectiveness of some fertilizers, which will help to save money.
The pH of your soil can also affect the types of pests and diseases that thrive in your garden. For example, pests like nematodes and harmful fungi thrive in acidic soils. Lowering the pH can help to reduce the number of pests and diseases by making the soil less hospitable to them.
Another good reason to lower the pH of your soil is to help prevent runoff. Runoff is when water from rain or irrigation is unable to penetrate the soil and ends up running off the surface, which often ends up polluting water supplies. Low pH soil means that the water will be less able to penetrate the soil, helping to reduce run-off.
However, lowering the pH of your soil can have some negative effects too. For example, plants that prefer alkaline soils, like asparagus and rhubarb, will suffer. Your plants will also need more fertilizer since lower-pH soils will be less able to retain nutrients.
Finally, lowering the pH of your soil can take a long time, sometimes years, and it might not be successful if you don’t do it correctly.
How to Lower pH in Soil with Vinegar?
There are a few different ways to lower the pH of your soil with vinegar. You can choose the method that is best suited to your needs and garden space. A general rule of thumb is to apply vinegar at a rate of 2 tablespoons per square foot.
First, you can spray the soil with vinegar. This is most effective in small garden spaces. Simply pour the vinegar into a spray bottle and apply it directly to the soil.
Alternatively, you can apply vinegar to the soil by flooding it. This method is more effective in larger spaces since it will take longer to have an effect on a smaller scale. Simply pour the vinegar straight onto the soil and let it seep in.
You can also mix the vinegar with water and pour that onto the soil. Finally, you can put a few cups of vinegar in a hole and bury it in the soil. This is most effective in areas where you’re trying to change the pH of a large area of soil.
Limitations of lowering pH with vinegar
As we’ve discussed, there are many advantages to lowering the pH of your soil with vinegar. However, there are also some disadvantages. For example, if you don’t apply vinegar at the correct rate, it can have the opposite effect.
If you apply too much vinegar, it can damage the soil, disrupting the natural cycle of nutrients and releasing too much CO2 into the air.
There are also some plants that are just not suitable for this method since some plants prefer alkaline soil. As we’ve discussed, lowering the pH of your soil can be harmful to certain plants, so you need to be careful.
This method also takes a long time to work, sometimes several years. It’s also not effective in large garden spaces, since the vinegar doesn’t travel far enough into the soil.
How to Naturally Lower Soil pH Without Vinegar
If you want to lower the pH of your soil but are concerned about the damage that vinegar might cause, there are some other options.
Adding organic matter
Adding organic matter like compost or manure to your soil helps to break down minerals, making the soil more acidic. This is a great option if you want to naturally lower the pH of your soil without using vinegar. Add enough to increase the level of acidity by 0.5 to 1 pH.
Adding aluminum sulfate
Another option is to apply aluminum sulfate, which will help to lower the pH of your soil. However, this method is more likely to lower the pH too much, so it’s best to do this in small amounts and then regularly check the pH levels in your soil to make sure it’s not too acidic.
We’ve discussed the importance of soil pH and how you can use vinegar to lower the pH of your soil. There are many benefits to doing this, including making your soil more hospitable to certain plants, reducing the number of pests and diseases in your garden, and reducing run-off.
You can also use other methods to naturally lower the pH of your soil without using vinegar. However, lowering the pH of your soil takes time and it’s important to apply vinegar at the right rate to avoid damaging your soil.