The Q&A Archives: Do I need to add something to the soil to counteract pine needles?

Question: I am planning to plant astilbe, impatiens and tuberous begonias in a shady spot in my yard. Do I need to add something to the soil to counteract the pine needles that are always falling on the soil? Susan Mullett North Reading, MA

Answer: Before you add anything to the soil, test for your soil's pH. Any garden center will have a simple pH test kit. If the pH falls below 5.8, you should add dolomitic limestone, 5 pounds per 100 square feet. This amount raises the pH one point. It should be done a few weeks before you plant. The simple test kits will only approximate the pH. If you would like a more precise test, ask your garden center for the nearest soil testing lab. If the pH is between 5.8-6.8, don't add anything. Most plants like this range.

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