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Lowering soil ph?


LawnSite Senior Member
Central Illinois
I have a lawn 6000 sq. feet that has a ph of 7.5. I need to lower it. Any suggestions?cool season grass mixture.


LawnSite Senior Member
Take into account that a pH of 7 is considered neutral, lower is acidic and higher,alkaline.
To make soils less acidic, the common practice is to apply a material that contains some form of lime. Ground agricultural limestone is most frequently used. The finer the limestone particles, the more rapidly it becomes effective. Different soils will require a different amount of lime to adjust the soil pH value. The texture of the soil, organic matter content and the plants to be grown are all factors to consider in adjusting the pH value. For example, soils low in clay require less lime than soils high in clay to make the same pH change.
Homeowners can choose from four types of ground limestone products: pulverized, granular, pelletized and hydrated. Pulverized lime is finely ground. Granular and pelletized lime are less likely to clog when spread with a fertilizer spreader over turf areas. The finer the grind of the limestone the faster it will change the soil pH value. Hydrated lime should be used with caution since it has a greater ability to neutralize soil acidity than regular limestone.
Lime needs should be determined by a soil test. Soil samples should be taken in the fall for the succeeding year's garden. If test results indicate a need for limestone, it can be applied in the fall or winter months. Generally, for best results, limestone should be applied two to three months prior to planting to allow time for it to neutralize the acidity.
The most important factor determining the effectiveness of lime is placement. Maximum contact of lime with the soil is essential. Most liming materials are only slightly soluble in water, so incorporation in the soil is a must for lime reaction. Even when properly mixed with the soil, lime will have little effect on pH if the soil is dry. Moisture is essential for the lime-soil reaction to occur. In the case of lawns, it can only be surface applied and watered into the soil.
Wood ashes can be used to raise the soil pH. They contain small amounts of potassium, phosphate, boron and other elements. They are not as effective as limestone but with repeated use, they can drastically raise the pH value of a soil, especially if the soil is sandy in texture. Ashes should not come in contact with germinating seedlings or plant roots as they may cause damage. Spread a thin layer during the winter and incorporate into the soil in the spring. Check the soil pH annually especially if you use wood ashes. Avoid using large amounts of wood ashes because excessively high pH values and subsequent nutrient deficiencies may result. Coal ashes do not have any lime value and may actually be acidic dependent on the source.
Decreasing the Soil pH
Many ornamental plants and some fruit plants such as blueberries require slightly to strongly acid soil. These species develop iron chlorosis when grown in soils in the alkaline range. Iron chlorosis is often confused with nitrogen deficiency because the symptoms (a definite yellowing of the leaves) are similar. Iron chlorosis can be corrected by reducing the soil pH value.
Two materials commonly used for lowering the soil pH are aluminum sulfate and sulfur. These can be found at a garden supply center. Aluminum sulfate will change the soil pH instantly because the aluminum produces the acidity as soon as it dissolves in the soil. Sulfur, however, requires some time for the conversion to sulfuric acid with the aid of soil bacteria. The conversion rate of the sulfur is dependent on the fineness of the sulfur, the amount of soil moisture, soil temperature and the presence of the bacteria. Depending on these factors, the conversion rate of sulfur may be very slow and take several months if the conditions are not ideal. For this reason, most people use the aluminum sulfate.
Both materials should be worked into the soil after application to be most effective. If these materials are in contact with plant leaves as when applied to a lawn, they should be washed off the leaves immediately after application or a damaging leaf burn may result. Take extreme care not to over-apply the aluminum sulfate or the sulfur. Best of luck.


LawnSite Bronze Member
Here in FL where I live all have high PH for the most part. They use a lot of fill dirt to bring new homes to the proper elevation. We use sulfur to lower the PH. It usually takes about three weeks to bring it down about one point i.e.7.5-6.5 range. However, at 7.5 I would not do anything to it at all. I had a property about 12 years ago that had a PH of 8.3 and we applied sulfur every six months just to get it down to a 7.5 PH! If you apply it the general rule for sulfur is about 200lbs. per acre. or about 30lbs for your propert if all things were equal. Since I do not know the actual soil content it would be hard to give you any better numbers than that.


LawnSite Member
Payson, UT
I have a personal beef against aluminum sulfate. An alternative is to fertilize with ammonium sulfate. It will also lower the pH quickly, while doing a cool season fert. It is the most acidifying fertilizer, but it is temporary. The best long term solution is elemental sulfur - it will take longer in the cool fall season. You can probably by it at an ag supply alot cheaper than the local garden shop. But don't put it down with the ammonium sulfate. Wait at least a month.

Az Gardener

LawnSite Gold Member
Phoenix, Az
Our soil ph here typically runs 8-8.5 and the water is as bad. I was just advised by a commercial grower in Calif. to use citric acid in a spray application. Its very mild and comes as a wettable powder 45.00 for a 50Lb. bag and that bag should last me a season or two. I am using it for flowers. Turns out they are growing the "Proven Winners" varieties at about 6.0 no wonder they don't last long. You can also mix peat into the soil to bring down the ph. We grow cool season grasses here in the winter and no one does anything to lower the Ph and the lawns look fine. We grow a variety of perennial rye's as well as zoysa with no ill effects from the ph. No mater what you do it will only be temporary once the sulfer of peat is broken down the ph goes right back up.


LawnSite Silver Member
S.E. Michigan
Grandview said:
I would not wory about a pH of 7.5. Grass does well in a slightly basic pH.
Cool season grasses prefer slightly acidic conditions, 6.2 - 6.8 is ideal. Above 7.2, other nutrients tend to become unavailable to the turf.

Az Gardener

LawnSite Gold Member
Phoenix, Az
I got it from Simplot Partners, they supply mostly golf courses with fert,seed,and other typical cides.