If your lawn is looking yellow, weedy, or spotted and patchy, the pH of your soil might be to blame. Adding lime to your lawn can correct the problem and restore lost nutrients. Lime used for lawns, or agricultural lawn, is essentially crushed limestone or chalk. Applying lime on lawns, over time, can bring turf back to its fullest, lushest glory. But before you rush out to buy lime, let’s take a step back and find out why lime is used, and when it makes the most sense to apply it.
Lime Restores a Lawn’s Proper pH
The main purpose of lime on lawns is to increase the pH of soil that is too acidic. Soils are classified as acid, alkaline or neutral. A pH below 7 is acid, above 7 is alkaline, and 7.0 is neutral. To determine the pH of your lawn, purchase a pH test kit from a garden center, or check with your county or nursery to see if they will test your soil for free.
Keep in mind that your lawn’s ideal pH will depend on the type of turf you have. Some turf grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass prefer a pH between 6.5 and 7.2, while others such as buffalo and zoysia grass tolerate more acidic soil. Most grasses like a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If your soil’s pH is lower than this, you can improve that pH with liming. But if your soil is already 6.5 or higher, lime probably won’t do your lawn any good. In fact, it could burn it! So be cautious and check the pH carefully in several places across your lawn before proceeding.
Other Benefits of Lime on Lawns
Lime provides an important source of calcium and magnesium for your grasses and plants. These nutrients help plants stay healthy and resist damage from heat, drought or high traffic. In addition, the calcium in lime helps plants to absorb other beneficial soil nutrients such as zinc, copper and phosphorus. On top of that, lime can help water better penetrate acidic soil and get down to plant roots. When combined with compost, lime aids in the proliferation of healthy bacteria and microbes in the soil, which enhances the overall soil structure. Finally, lime can mitigate toxicity related to too-high levels of nutrients like aluminum, manganese and iron in your soil.
Types of Lime
The most popular lime product for use on lawns is agricultural ground limestone. (You may have heard of burnt lime, quick lime, or hydrated or slaked lime, but not all of these products are relevant or ideal for lawn care.) Agricultural limes differ in price, ease of application, the calcium carbonate equivalent, and the rate at which they work. A good rule of thumb is to choose a product with a relative neutralizing value of 80 percent or greater. This way, you can be sure that the lime is of sufficiently high quality.
When to Apply Lime on Lawns
Lime can be applied year round, but the optimum time for liming is during the fall. That’s because the cooler, rainy weather will help push the lime into the soil. But don’t wait too long this season. Why? Lime can damage frost-covered grass. Also, aerate the soil just before liming. Aerated soil will help the lime sink more deeply into the earth.
How to Apply Lime on Lawns
Generally speaking, 20 to 50 pounds of lime per 1000 square feet will correct mildly acidic soil. You may need up to 100 pounds for highly acidic or heavy clay soil, which is more resistant to changes in pH. To apply the lime, use a drop spreader or broadcast spreader, and walk behind it. Make rows of horizontal lines across your lawn, then go back over with vertical lines to ensure maximum coverage. And, as with all fertilizers and lawn treatments, follow the label on the back of the package for best results.
Once you’ve limed, give it time. In other words, wait three years or more to test and lime the soil again. That’s because it can take at least two years for the lime to sink down into your soil and do its job.
Want More Guidance on Lime?
If you want help using lime to restore your lawn, contact Free Spray Lawn Care at [phone]. We can apply lime quickly and effectively to your grass and return your lawn to its greenest, most beautiful self.