Trees for alkaline soil
Alkaline or “sweet” soils are those with a pH of more than 7. This is commonly caused by a high content of limestone or chalk, which may also result in the soil being free draining and lower in nutrients than neutral, loamy soils. This section features the best trees for alkaline soils, including holm oak (aka evergreen oak), yew trees, hawthorn trees, grafted cotoneaster, Elaeagnus and euonymus lollipop trees, European hornbeam, Portuguese laurel topiary and Robinia trees. If you are designing a new garden or growing area from scratch, trees can be a good place to begin. Trees provide shelter and shade, act as a windbreak, improve the stability of the soil and provide a habitat and food for wildlife.
Choosing the right plants for the right place is key to getting the best from your garden and soil type is no small part of this. Whilst the most scientific way to measure the pH of your soil is with a soil testing kit, the easiest and cheapest way is to see how samples of your garden soil react to the addition of, firstly, vinegar and, secondly, baking soda (using separate samples for each). See our article on understanding your soil for more details. We generally recommend choosing types of plants that are well suited to the alkalinity of your soil, rather than trying to change it. Any artificial change to acidity will only be temporary and will need to be repeated over time. There are plenty of beautiful shrubs spanning a range of different types, shapes, sizes and uses that are well adapted to soils with a pH above 7.