Lowering pH Of Grass – How To Make A Lawn More Acidic

Lowering pH Of Grass – How To Make A Lawn More Acidic

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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Most plants prefer a soil pH of 6.0-7.0, but a few likethings a bit more acidic, while some need a lower pH. Turf grass prefers a pHof 6.5-7.0. If the lawn pH is too high, the plant will have trouble up takingnutrients and certain important microorganisms will be in short supply. Keepreading to learn how to make a lawn more acidic, or lower yard pH.

Help, My Lawn pH is Too High!

SoilpH is represented by a rating of 0 to 10. The lower the number, the higherthe acidity.The neutral point is 7.0, and any number above this is more alkaline.Some turf grasses like a bit more acidity, such as centipede grass, but mostare fine around 6.5. In high pH soils, you often need to lower yard pH. This isrelatively easy but should start first with a simple soil test to determine howmuch acidity needs to be added.

A soiltest can be purchased online or at most nurseries. They are easy to use andmost give accurate readings. You just need a little soil to mix in the providedcontainer with the chemicals. An easy color-coded chart will explain the pH ofyour soil.

Or you can do it yourself. In a small bowl, collect a bit ofsoil and add distilled water until it is paste like. Pour white vinegar intothe bowl. If it fizzes, the soil is alkaline; no fizz means acidic. You canalso replace the vinegar with baking soda with the opposite effect – if itfizzes, it’s acidic and, if not, it’s alkaline. No reaction with either meansthe soil is neutral.

Once you have determined which way to go, it is time toeither sweeten (neutralize) or sour (acidify) your soil. You can raisepH with lime or even wood ash, and lowerit with sulfur or acidic fertilizers.

How to Lower Lawn pH

Lowering pH of grass will acidify the soil, so if your testrevealed alkaline soil, that is the direction to go. This will lower the numberand make it more acidic. A lower lawn pH can be achieved with sulfur or afertilizer made for acid-loving plants.

Sulfur is best used prior to planting or installing a lawnand takes several months to break down for plant uptake. Therefore, apply itwell in advance of installing the grass. You can also achieve the same effectby working in sphagnum moss or compost. Acidic fertilizers are easy to use andprobably the simplest way to lower pH in existing lawn situations.

As usual, it is best to follow manufacturer’s instructionsregarding amounts, methods and timing of fertilizer application. Avoid productssuch as ammonium sulfate, which can burn grass. Ammoniumnitrate is a better option for turf grass, but products containing ureaor amino acids will gradually acidify your soil.

The overall recommendation is 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet(2.27 kg. per 304.8 sq. m.). It is best to avoid applying the product duringthe hottest part of the day and to water it in well. In just a short while,your grass will be happier and healthier.

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Read more about General Lawn Care

Understanding Lawn pH

You may remember learning about pH for the first time in elementary school and delving a little deeper into its meaning during high school or even college courses. Though most of us don’t discuss pH on a daily basis anymore, it’s essential for human health and – as we’re talking about in this post – plant health.

Soil pH is especially important because it enables a plant’s ability for nutrient uptake. If all of the nutrients a plant needs are available and the pH is off, it can’t pick up those essential ions. As you can see below in the chart below, the pH affects nutrient absorption in soil. That’s why we’re outlining a basic understanding of what pH is and how it can affect your lawn.

This chart shows the soil pH effect on nutrient availability. The blue column shows optimum pH levels for nutrient absorption. For the rows showing nutrient availability, the fat sections show that nutrients are plenty available, the thin sections show availability tapering off as pH changes. Chart by CoolKoon [CC BY 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons.

For this post, we sat down with Ben Copeland Jr., Super-Sod COO and self-proclaimed pH nerd, to discuss why pH is so important to your lawn.

How to Lower the PH Level of High Alkaline Soil

How to Lower the PH Level of High Alkaline Soil. The pH level of soil ranges on a scale from 1 to 14. The middle of the scale is considered neutral, and the higher the number is on the scale, the higher the alkaline content in the soil. Plants require different alkaline levels in the soil, and sometimes the soil needs to be adjusted to suit the plant that will go into a specific area. Here are some helpful tips for lowering the pH level of high alkaline garden soil.

Determine the plants, flowers or vegetables that will be planted into your garden. Some plants prefer a higher alkaline content in soil, and others thrive with a lower pH level making it more acidic.

  • How to Lower the PH Level of High Alkaline Soil.
  • Plants require different alkaline levels in the soil, and sometimes the soil needs to be adjusted to suit the plant that will go into a specific area.

Take a soil sample in the area where you wish to plant. You may take your sample to a local garden center, or purchase a soil testing kit from the center.

Review the results of your soil sample. Once you've determined the alkaline content of the soil, you can make adjustments.

If you have a sandy soil, you will need to add 1.2 ounces of ground rock sulfur per square yard. This will lower your pH level by 1.0 on the scale.

You will need to add 3.6 ounces of ground rock sulfur per square yard for other types of soil. This too will lower your pH level by 1.0 on the scale.

  • Take a soil sample in the area where you wish to plant.
  • If you have a sandy soil, you will need to add 1.2 ounces of ground rock sulfur per square yard.

Add sawdust, compost and peat moss as other options to lower the soil's pH level.

Dig at least 6 to 8 inches deep for a soil sample or the depth you will plant flowers and vegetables. Read the labels on the soil testing kits carefully. Read all labels carefully, and follow the manufacturer's directions when applying any type of chemical to your garden.

It is sometimes easier to make soils more alkaline than more acidic. Sulfur is not always easy to find or available. If you are using other materials than sulfur, you will need to adjust and retest the soil over time. Wear protective gloves and masks when applying chemicals to your garden. If the soil is extremely high in alkalinity, you may need to build a raised bed and use a high quality topsoil.

Lawn pH Balancing Tips from Lawn Doctor

As many of you know during the hot summer months, it is important to regularly check the pH level of your swimming pool. By maintaining the appropriate pH balance in your pool you are making sure that the products you put in the water work properly to keep the water clean and ready to be enjoyed. Well your lawn is no different. Lawn pH balancing can be equally as important as inspecting your pool.

What exactly is lawn pH balancing?

In order for your lawn to continue to grow and develop it must be kept at the appropriate pH level. Many people neglect maintaining this balance in their soil and their lawns suffer. If your lawn’s pH level is too acidic (low) or alkaline (high) your grass can have difficulty obtaining the necessary nutrients from the soil. Without the proper lawn pH your lawn could lose its healthy green appearance you have worked so hard for.

Benefits of pH Level Soil Testing

If your lawn is starting to deteriorate, the problem could be with its pH level. Maintaining the appropriate pH balance (approximately between 6.0-6.5) can improve your lawns current condition in a number of ways:

  1. It facilitates the growth of your grass by allowing it to obtain the nutrients in the soil
  2. It encourages the development and maintenance of healthy soil.

Lawn pH Balancing Tips from Lawn Doctor Director John Buechner

How to Test Your Lawns pH Levels

  1. Take a sample of the soil two to three inches deep from the lawn. This particular section of the lawn soil is called the root zone, which is needed to test your lawn’s pH level.
  2. Remove any debris left over such as rocks, thatch or grass. The root zone must not contain any grass and thatch to ensure your pH test is accurate.
  3. Repeat this process for other areas in your lawn

For complete instructions on how to take a soil sample from your lawn, reference here for an in-depth look. To test the soil sample you can buy soil test kits at a local Garden Center or take it to a lawn care expert. Call Lawn Doctor today.

If it turns out the pH level is low, it can be remedied by adding an alkaline material like lime to raise the soil’s pH levels. If the level is too high, a mild acid or sulfur can be used to balance back the pH levels. When the sulfur is mixed with water it results in a diluted form of sulfuric acid, which can be used to lower the pH level range balance.

Watch the video: Lowering Soil PH