How to Grow Grass With Low PH


Lawn grasses grow best in soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5, according to Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Highly acidic soils, soils with a pH lower than 6, have a low supply of calcium and magnesium, which need to be replenished. The high acid level also means that other nutrients in the soil might not be accessible to the grass. If your soil suffers from a low pH, consider steps that will help neutralize the soil prior to seeding a lawn. Then monitor pH levels on the established lawn to determine whether further corrective action is needed.

Step 1

Spread limestone evenly over the area, a year prior to planting grass. Till it into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. The amount of lime needed should be based on soil-test results, but add no more than 150 pounds per 1,000 square feet in one application, according to the University of West Virginia Extension. Compost, which has a tendency to neutralize soil as well as improve general fertility, may also be added and worked in at this time.

Step 2

Rake the area you want to seed before planting. Remove any weeds, making sure you remove the roots completely. Water the soil and allow it to settle for at least a week.

Step 3

Sow grass seed with the spreader on the prepared site at the recommended rate, based on instructions on the seed package. For best results, apply half the seed in a north-south direction and the other half in an east-west direction.

Step 4

Rake over the seeded area lightly, covering the seed with approximately 1/16 to 1/8 inch of soil. Apply a lawn starter fertilizer according to package directions. Then spread a thin layer of mulch over the seed to help retain moisture.

Step 5

Sprinkle water lightly on the seeded area once or twice daily to keep the seed moist. Lawn seed should germinate in one to two weeks.

Step 6

Apply lime to an established lawn in the fall, every three to five years or as needed. Use soil test results to determine whether and how much limestone to add. Water the lawn after lime applications.

Things You'll Need

  • Agricultural limestone
  • Fertilizer spreader
  • Tiller
  • Rake
  • Seed spreader
  • Grass seed
  • Garden hose
  • Sprinkler or sprayer attachment


  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension: Moss in Lawns
  • University of West Virginia Extension: Liming the Lawn
  • Clemson University Extension: Soil Acidity and Liming
  • University of Minnesota Morris: Plant Grass Seed in the Fall
  • University of California: Establishing a Lawn from Seed
Keywords: grow grass, low pH levels, acidic lawn soil

About this Author

Ann Wolters, who has been a freelance writer, consultant, and writing coach for the past year and a half, has had her writing published in "The Saint Paul Almanac," and in magazines such as "Inventing Tomorrow" and "Frontiers." She earned a master’s degree in English as a second language from the University of Minnesota and taught English as a foreign language for nearly seven years.