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Last weekend I cleaned off a number of random items at my house. I scrubbed with baking soda and diluted vinegar and then washed them off with a pressure washer. I made the unfortunate decision of doing that cleaning work in my lawn. I'm now looking at some pretty large sections of my yard that are dying off.

I'm wondering what I might do to remedy this situation. So far I've thought of:

  1. Water the lawn a ton. Flush out the baking soda and vinegar as much as possible.
  2. Baking soda has a pH of 8. The vinegar was pretty diluted. Perhaps I could apply a nitrogen fertilizer to try to lower the pH.
  3. After flushing the soil with a lot of water, throw down some new grass seed, cover with a thin layer of dirt and water a few times daily for short intervals. It's the worst time of year to get to try to get grass seed to germinate, but hey I'm desperate :)

Any other thoughts or suggestions? Thank you!

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  • How much baking soda got in the soil? I wouldn't be too worried about the vinegar (the vinegar shouldn't have very lasting negative effects). Jul 15, 2022 at 3:01
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    @Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Probably about 2-3 cups worth of baking soda -- spread out over ~200 square foot area of lawn.
    – Elliot B.
    Jul 15, 2022 at 5:00

2 Answers 2

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Water and wait. Vastly excessive watering may cause other problems, so lean more towards "water throughly, then stop."

If you need to reseed, wait until fall anyway. If you wait until fall you might find you don't need to reseed, depending how badly the plants were burned.

In many cases the roots will survive an insult that the vegetation will not, so patience is advised to give them a chance to re-sprout, if they can.

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That's a tough one. You could try to flush the salt through the soil with lots of water. You could try magnetizing the soil (that's supposed to help plants tolerate salty soil and/or water better, I think I've read).

Foliar sprays with acids (in the right amounts--not enough to kill the plants) are supposed to make plants be more salt-tolerant, but you're trying to grow seeds, and you don't already have plants.

You might need a salt-tolerant grass.

It's possible that the soil is mostly just fine, other than the initial plants just dying.

If the pH is high because of the baking soda, it is possible that extra fertilizer will help, but as the sodium bicarbonate is the cause of the higher pH rather than calcium, I'm not so sure. A lot of the carbon probably was released with the vinegar, though, depending. If calcium were the cause more NPK could help the plants use the calcium.

Adding more vinegar to the baking soda to release more carbon dioxide might help (before planting--not after).

Putting some acidic compost on it could help.

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  • There are soil pH testing kits, maybe that would help determine if the pH is Ok or needs correction? Jul 15, 2022 at 13:21
  • Or, use the local Extension service and get a professional soil test done. The Extension results will (in most states) indicate how the homeowner can fix any deficiencies or overages.
    – Jurp
    Jul 15, 2022 at 13:46
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    This seems more like a short-term chemical burn to the vegetation than a long-term change to the pH, though the sodium insult to the soil will take longer to resolve fully.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 15, 2022 at 15:29

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