Achieve gardening success by choosing plants that thrive in the type of soil you have. A soil pH test kit, available at most garden centres, will determine the exact pH of your soil. A pH above 7 means your soil is alkaline. Some plants, such as acid-loving azaleas, will not thrive in alkaline soil because the essential nutrients those plants require are not present in the soil in a form the plants can use, according to Iowa State University Extension.
Highly tolerant of windy conditions, Pinus nigra, or Australian pine, thrives in salty, dry or alkaline soil making it a great choice for areas where other plants will not thrive. This widely grown plant makes a great specimen plant. It also makes a great screen, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Australian pine is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 4 through 7.
Deciduous trees or shrubs, dogwoods attract a variety of birds and butterflies into the garden. Some varieties prefer acidic soil, while some prefer alkaline soil. If the pH of your soil is above 7, plant dogwood varieties such as Pagoda, Corneliancherry or Kousa. Dogwoods flower in the early spring, then produce fruit that often remains into the winter giving the birds something natural on which to feast. Some varieties have red or yellow bark that stands out against the snow. Depending on variety, dogwoods are hardy in USDAl hardiness zones 4 through 7.
The majestic oak tree is a popular choice for both landscapes and lumber. Most oak trees prefer to grow in well-drained soil, although some varieties, such as the bur oak, botanically known as Quercus macrocarpa, will tolerate wet soil. Excellent choices for alkaline soil include the bur oak; Quercus ellipsoidalis, or Northern pin oak; and Quercus imbricaria or shingle oak. Excellent specimen trees native to the United States, oak trees are prized for their colourful fall foliage, according to the University of Illinois. Depending on the specific variety, oak trees are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8.
Native to the United States, Cercis canadensis, commonly called the Eastern redbud tree, is a sight to see in early spring when the magenta pink or white edible flowers cover the bare branches, according to the University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Tolerant of windy conditions and alkaline soil, redbud trees are excellent choices for mass plantings or specimen trees. Cercis candensis is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 8.
- Ohio State University Extension: Cornus, Dogwood
- University of Illinois Extension: Cornus mas, Corneliancherry Dogwood
- Ohio State University Extension: Quercus, Oaks
- University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Cercis Canadensis, Eastern Redbud
- University of Illinois Extension: Cornus kousa, Kousa Dogwood
- University of Illinois Extension: Pinus nigra, Australian Pine
- University of Illinois: Selecting Trees for Your Home
- Iowa State University Extension: How to Change Your Soil's pH
- University of Illinois Extension: Cornus alternifolia, Pagoda Dogwood
- University of Illinois Extension: Quercus macrocarpa, Bur Oak
- University of Illinois Extension: Quercus ellipsoidalis, Northern Pin Oak
- University of Illinois Extension: Quercus imbricaria, Shingle Oak
- University of Illinois Extension: Cercis Canadensis, Eastern Redbud