Is your landscape lacking vigor, everything looking a little pale, new growth looking kind of sad?
Avoid issues with high pH soils. Test the soil before designing the landscape or purchasing and installing the plants. The best solution to landscaping a soil with high pH is selecting plants tolerant of high pH soils. If the budget is big enough consider structural soils.
pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity, and when it comes to our plants, pH has a lot to do with overall plant health! pH is measured on scale of 0-14, where 7 is neutral, < 7 is acidic and > 7 is alkaline. In general, plants prefer a pH around 7. But plants, like people, have their preferences, and some plants may be more tolerant to a wide range soil pH while others may be quite specific in their preferences.
If the pH is not in the right range for the plant, the plant will not take up the best balance of nutrients. The result is a nutrient deficient plant. Landscapes planted on high pH soils show micronutrient deficiencies observed as pale or unhealthy new growth. Once the landscape is installed, there is NO FIX. Chelated micronutrient applications can help the landscape limp along in a high pH environment, but it is not a permanent remedy. Adding more fertilizer only results in nutrient pollution since the plants will not take up the nutrients if the pH is out of range.
Urban soils are employed for constructing strong foundations and laying sturdy roadbeds. While we enjoy the benefits of driving down a road without it crumbling away like an action movie, construction activities rarely consider long-term landscape maintenance. The result is often a compact soil more reminiscent of concrete. Soil is moved, graded, and sometimes new Earth is introduced. Construction materials and concrete chunks become a part of the new sturdy soil ready to receive a fresh landscape installation.
Structural soils are designed to provide foundational support required for roads and sidewalks while also providing a well aerated soil. Structural soils also allow for deeper rooting and healthier landscapes that do not interfere with sidewalks and structures as much. There are long term benefits associated with structural soils in urban design.