How to grow grass in acidic soil

Written by susan walworth
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How to grow grass in acidic soil
Adding lime to acidic soil can help produce a lush lawn. (lawn and border bed image by TMLP from

If you allow grass to sink its roots into soil it likes, you will be rewarded with a lush green lawn. But one thing is for sure, grass doesn't like acidic or "sour" soil. Acidic soil has a low pH, which makes it difficult for grass to obtain the nutrients it needs. According to the Purdue University Department of Agronomy, turfgrass grows best in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Correcting the soil's pH is not only good for the grass, it's good for the environment since thick, healthy grass needs less water and requires fewer chemicals to maintain.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Trowel
  • Bucket
  • Plastic bag
  • Lime
  • Spreader
  • Tiller
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Collect a soil sample to determine the soil's pH. Push a trowel at least 4 inches deep into the soil to gather samples. Collect at least 12 samples from various places on the lawn. Mix the soil samples together in a bucket and place about one cup of soil in a plastic bag. Contact your local cooperative extension service office for instructions on mailing the sample for testing, and specify that you will be growing grass in the soil. Soil testing kits are also available at many garden centres and home improvement stores.

  2. 2

    Apply lime with a spreader at the rate recommended by the soil test. Lime is available in both powder and pellet form.

  3. 3

    Till the lime into the soil before new grass is installed, or apply to existing lawns.

  4. 4

    Select the grass for your lawn, if your home is a new construction or if the existing grass is dead and needs replacing. Different grasses are recommended for different parts of the country and different soil conditions. For example, Richard L. Duble, a turfgrass specialist with the Texas Cooperative Extension says that Bermudagrass tolerates both acidic and alkaline soils.

  5. 5

    Plant grass seed, plugs or install sod. Water thoroughly.

Tips and warnings

  • For existing lawns, it's a good idea to aerate the soil before you apply lime.
  • Don't apply lime without first doing a soil test since it is possible to damage lawns by adding too much lime.

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