Feeding and weeding are essential parts of your lawn’s maintenance, but lime is another factor that may help too. Those yellow spots and sparse patches can leave you frustrated with your yard. Many homeowners want to see that lush and green grass throughout the growing season. In some cases, lime can help you to achieve those results. However, this type of treatment is not for every kind of grass. There are a few things that you need to consider before adding lime to your lawn’s regular maintenance routine.
What Is Lime?
Lime comes from ground limestone rock. It is a soil amendment that naturally contains magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate. When you add lime to your soil, the compound will start to increase the pH of the soil to make it more alkaline and less acidic.
You may think that it is a replacement for fertilizer, but the calcium and magnesium work differently for your lawn. The primary role of lime is to help offset the soil’s acidity and alter the pH. Fertilizer causes the grass to become more acidic. When you add lime, the pH will return to a healthy level, which will help your grass grow and prosper. However, there are other benefits of adding lime to your lawn.
In addition to helping with the pH levels, lime can increase the magnesium and calcium in the grass. With those excess nutrients, the grass can survive drought, excess rainfall, or extreme temperatures. It can also help with a new seeded or sodded yard, and it will benefit other microorganisms in the dirt for a more natural balance. Lime also boosts the effectiveness of herbicides and fertilizer, and it encourages thatches to decompose. Finally, lime improves your lawn by growing stronger roots.
Test Your pH Levels
Before you reach for lime, you need to determine the pH level of the soil. Levels that are below 6.5 are considered acidic, and those pH levels above 7.0 are in the alkaline range. A neutral pH level is between 6.5 to 7.0.
If your soil is in the acidic range, then you should consider adding lime to the surface. For those soils in the alkaline range, a sulfur treatment would be the best approach. A professional landscaping company can conduct a soil test for your lawn. You can grab a do-it-yourself test, but those tests are not very accurate.
In some parts of the United States, the pH level can be extremely high or low. Parts of the Pacific Northwest or Eastern states have low pH levels. Midwestern states have higher pH or alkaline levels in the soil. If you live in these areas, you might consider adding lime to your grass.
Why Is Low Soil pH Bad?
When your soil has a low pH level, the availability of nutrients can be inhibited. These soil pH preferences can vary from region to region. However, most grasses do prefer soil pH between levels of 5.8 and 7.2. Cool-season grasses prefer higher pH levels, and warm-season grasses can tolerate lower pH levels.
All lawn grasses need nutrients, including nitrogen found in lawn fertilizer. When those pH levels are too high or low, then the nutrients can be restricted. With a lime treatment, overly acidic soil can help bring your lawn grasses up to an optimal growing level.
When to Apply Lime?
Lime can be applied at any time of the year. For most people, spring and fall are the best times to apply lime to the yard. While spring is an excellent time to lime, there are some advantages to fall liming. Snow, freezing, and rain cycles can help to break down lime in the soil. However, you should avoid liming on frosted or wilted turf. Liming should be done when you can immediately irrigate the soil after application. When you water after liming, you can wash any residual lime off the grass leaves.
How Much Lime to Apply?
You want to make sure to apply the correct amount of lime to the soil. An overly acidic lawn can cause your grass to struggle to grow. You may even see an increase in weeds and lawn moss. Acidic pH levels can also be a welcoming place for insects or grass diseases. These acidic lawns can also cause your fertilizers to stop responding in the way that you would expect. If you add too much lime, you can get the undesirable result of overly acidic grass. The availability of specific nutrients at this stage can result in an unhealthy lawn, and you will see those results with too much liming.
A soil test is one of the best ways to get the right amount of lime. These test results will indicate how much lime you need in pounds of calcium carbonate per 1,000 square feet of lawn. All liming products have a label with a “calcium carbonate equivalent,” and it is presented as a percentage. You can use this calculation to figure out your particular requirements:
Soil test lime requirement x 100 = Amount of product / calcium carbonate equivalent
pH Levels Can Change
It is important to note that soil pH levels can change throughout the year. Heavy rainfall can cause calcium to leach out of the soil. With calcium loss, the soil pH level can drop and produce an acidic lawn. In areas with limited rainfall, the calcium doesn’t wash away, and it can cause the grass to become alkaline. Lawn maintenance can also lower the level of soil pH over time. Proper irrigation, regular fertilization, and increased activity of microorganisms will all lead to a normal drop in the levels of pH in the soil.
Now that you know about lime, you can easily help keep your lawn looking healthy with the right pH levels. However, it takes a lot of work to lime your yard correctly, and you should leave it to the professionals. Charlestown Landscaping can help you with soil tests and determine the right lime for your grass.
If you are ready to schedule a consultation for your lawn, make sure to fill out the contact form.