Acids can be helpful in lawn and home care, but like many products, they can also be dangerous, both to human and plant life. Some strong chemicals like hydrochloric acid can lead to terrible chemical burns and are only suitable to be used in controlled professional environments will the proper safety gear or strong acids can lead to terrible results.
Other acidic formulations, like muriatic acid, can be used around the home for cleaning and other applications.
Before getting started with an acid solution, you will want to understand how to find the correct acid-to-water ratio and dilute your solution with at least a gallon of water to ensure it is not going to cause harm to you or your property.
Even though common acids like muriatic acid are diluted and impure solutions of hydrochloric acid and, therefore, not as dangerous, care must be taken, or these acids could cause harm to your lawn and even kill your grass. Find out more in the article below.
Can Muriatic Acid Damage Turf?
One of the best attributes of an effective weed killer is that it can stop weed infestations but not damage nearby plants or harm your desirable plants. Unfortunately, muriatic acid doesn’t have these qualities and leads to dead grass and wiping out stubborn lambs quarter weed indiscriminately.
Spilling or splashing a product from a container with muriatic acid is devastating for yards and will cause both instant damage to contacted foliage as well as long-term root and soil damage if allowed to seep into the soil.
What are the Steps to Neutralize Muriatic Acid?
Muriatic acid has amazing cleaning properties for walkways and driveways, but when you are done using the product, you will want to neutralize the acid before using pressure washers or pump sprays to clean it away.
Base substances with higher alkalinity, like garden lime, baking soda, and calcium carbonate, can all be used to balance the acidity and render muriatic acid inert. Once this has been done, you can hit it with a spray bottle, hose, or pressure washer to clean it up as your situation requires.
Effects of Muriatic Acid on Plants
Muriatic acid will have varying effects on plants depending on what part comes in contact with the acid and how much of the solution was spilled. Since a minor amount of even diluted muriatic acid can cause irritation or worse in the case of eye contact, protective clothing should always be worn when using acid.
In general, the effects can range from brown patches to having to regenerate and restore the entire yard. This could happen when cleaning a swimming pool or undertaking some other large commercial cleaning operation.
|Volume of Acid||Effect||What To Do|
|Splash||Brown spots and wither of foliage at the contact site||Sprinkle garden lime and water thoroughly|
|Small Spill||Death of turf that is touched and some damage to any grass roots that absorb residual acid in the soil||Add a sufficient amount of agricultural lime to cover the spill area and dilute it with plenty of water|
|Large Spill||In an average yard, a large spill will kill grass on contact and keep killing turf and weed growth until the soil returns to a normal pH level range||Industrial products like dolomitic lime can be used to stop the effects of the acid, but the soil and turf will need to be highly rehabilitated and replanted|
|Huge Spill||Acid and erosion damage and increased time on the soil will lead to catastrophic ecological damage to your yard||You will need to contain the spill, remove the contaminated soil, add more neutralizing agents, bring in new soil, and finally resod to have any chance of restoring your lawn|
How to Use Muriatic Acid as a Weed Killer?
Due to the corrosive nature of the acid, it is inadvisable to use it for purposes other than what the product was formulated to accomplish. There are no commercial herbicides or weed killers with muriatic acid as the main active ingredient, so that should indicate that it is not safe or prudent to use acid as a weed killer.
There is also no safe level of dilution that would make muriatic acid harmful to unwanted plants but safe for nearby plant life you like.
Can Muriatic Acid Damage to Grass be Prevented?
While it is possible to act quickly and greatly reduce the damage done to grass that has been exposed to muriatic acid, there is no way to completely prevent damage. Standard practice is to add a base product like baking soda or lime to counteract a spilled acid product.
If acid gets on your lawn, you can neutralize it and water down the area to stop any additional damage. The only way to avoid grass damage is to use muriatic carefully and use spill-proof containers and proper protective equipment.