Lime for Lawns – When And How To Apply Lawn Lime

Last Updated on January 4, 2022 by Grow with Bovees

Do you dream of green lawn grasses and perfect flower beds? Liming your lawn with ground limestone can help you achieve your goal.

The contents of this article will provide you with lawn care tips and can help you understand why we use lime for lawns, and the benefits it has:

  • What are garden lime products?
  • Does My Lawn Need Lime?
  • The importance of performing a soil test before soil amendment.
  • Why Does Soil pH Change?
  • The Benefit of Applying Lime to Acidic Soil
  • When Should I Apply Lime?
  • How Much Lime Should I Apply?
  • How Do I Apply Lime?

What is Lime?

Have your lawn look like this by engaging a professional lawn care company

The lime we use on our lawns comes from limestone. Limestone is one of the earth’s natural minerals. It is mined from underground mines and open quarries. Limestone is filled with calcium carbonate, and also contains some magnesium carbonate. It’s the perfect mineral to use when wanting to neutralize highly acidic soil.

limestone will fix your lawn's ph

Different Kinds of Lime For Lawn Use

Dolomite and calcite are the most common types of agricultural limestone products used for treating lawns. The properties of these two lime types are different, but they both work by reducing the pH balance of the soil.

Calcite

Calcite is mainly made up of calcium carbonate.

Calcitic limestone is the preferred lime for home use as it works quicker than dolomite lime. However, calcite lime is not effective when your soil has a lack of magnesium.

Dolomite 

Dolomite consists of a mixture of calcium and magnesium carbonate.

Dolomitic lime is great to use if your soil is magnesium deficient.

One can classify soil as magnesium deficient when there is a ratio of 6:1 of calcium to magnesium. Some signs that your soil has a lack of magnesium are yellowing plants or weak lawn grasses. Do a soil pH test to confirm whether your soil has a lack of magnesium or other nutrients.

If you’re unsure about the type of lime you need for your lawn, local garden centers will definitely help you in making a decision.

Different Forms Of Lime

Lime comes in several forms to make it easier to combine with the soil. You can choose from pelletized lime, liquid lime, and lime powder. Pelletized limestone is a popular form of lime used among gardeners as it’s much easier to spread over the lawn than liquid and powder form of lime.

How To Tell When To Lime Your Lawn

There are some signs that you can look out for which indicate that your lawn might need a lime treatment. Sandy soil has a naturally low soil pH — making it acidic — and usually benefits from liming.

Indications Of A Low soil pH

  • Yellowing grass 
  • Effectiveness of fertilizer and soil conditioner is failing
  • Weeds and moss are growing in your yard

The only way and best way to tell for sure that your lawn needs lime though, is to check your pH by performing a soil test.

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Why is it Important to Perform a Soil pH Test?

Soil testing can help you decide when you should be liming your lawn and which type of lime is best to use. Be aware that the application of lime to lawns when it’s not needed — when the pH is high — can do more harm than good.

Testing your lawn’s soil before going about a lime lawn treatment, can help determine your soil’s pH and any plant nutrients or soil nutrients deficiencies.

Go to your local garden center and get yourself a home soil sample kit for testing pH. The results shown in this kit are, however, limited to pH levels only.

You can also contact your state university extension service to check if they offer soil testing if you want a more thorough test. The soil report will be more in-depth and show any nutrient deficiencies and tell you how much lime needs to be applied.

According to the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, a soil sample should be collected every two to three years.

It’s best to collect samples during the lawns dormant season, between late fall and early spring. 

Why Does Soil pH Change?

The ideal soil pH level for healthy grass growth is between 6 and 7 — this is considered the preferred range. A soil pH level which is below 5.5 is said to be too acidic. An acidic soil pH can prevent the release of nutrients which are vital for the growth of healthy lawns. Changes in your soil’s pH can occur due to a number of reasons:

Root Respiration

Too much water in the soil dissolves the carbon dioxide produced by root respiration. This results in a weak organic acid.

Heavy Rain Or Acid Rain

Rain percolates through the soil and leaches out nutrients such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium needed for proper growth.

Decaying Organic Matter

Carbon dioxide is produced by decaying organic matter. Carbon dioxide reacts with rainwater to produce carbonic acid, causing mild soil acidity.

Nitrogen-Based Fertilizer 

The nitrogen from lawn fertilizer can cause soil to become too acidic if used inefficiently. Ammonium-based nitrogen fertilizer has the greatest potential to make the soil pH more acidic, whereas a nitrate-based fertilizer is less likely.

Once you know your soil’s pH and type, you can use this calculator to help you decide on the quantity of lime you will need. By maintaining the correct pH, you will also help to control clover and other invader weeds.

The Benefits Of Lime Lawn Application

There are a few benefits of lime application and lime lawn treatment, but the main benefit of lime is that it neutralizes acidity.

Adding lime can also increase earthworm abundance. The Earthworm’s activity helps create space in the soil, allowing water, oxygen, and essential nutrients to move around, making a better environment for healthy grass roots growth.

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The neutralization of soil can also prevent common lawn weeds and moss infestations, as weeds prefer acidic soil.

Another benefit is that it makes your green lawn more resilient. Lime your lawn and help it survive times of stress such as extreme temperatures.

When Should I Apply Lime To My Lawn Grass?

You should be adding lime to your lawn before planting grass seed or laying turf. This makes for the best results. However, lime can also be applied when your lawn has already been seeded or turfed.

Whether your yard consists of warm-season grasses or cool-season grasses, the best time to lime your lawn is during fall or early spring when the grass is not actively growing.

Most gardeners like adding lime in the fall. This gives it time to react before the growing season starts. Rainfall and potential snow during the winter will help work the lime into the soil properly.

Avoid liming during winter when grasses could potentially become frosty. Lime is unable to react with frost, causing the neutralization process to fail.

The peak of summer is yet another bad time for liming. Heat may react badly with the lime, causing further imbalance. It may also put your lawn at risk of grass burn.

How Much Lime Should I Apply?

When an extension service is used to measure your soil pH, the soil test results will inform you about the amount of lime you need for your lawn. If you’re using a home testing kit, you need to figure that out, here’s how.

The amount needed all depends on your soil pH and the soil type. There are 3 soil types, namely, clay soil, sand and loam. The denser the soil, the bigger parts of lime it will need per square foot. 

It's important to check the pH level of your lawn

Application that exceeds 50-pounds per 1000 square feet should be split into smaller amounts and applied at different intervals. Leave several weeks in-between applications.

Too much lime can increase calcium levels in the soil. This prevents plants from taking in important nutrients such as magnesium.

If you are unsure of how to go about this process, hire a local and professional lawn care company to assist you with proper lawn care.

A rotary spreader or a drop spreader are two tools that are great to use when wanting to apply lime to your lawn. Maneuver the drop spreader over your lawn, and it will evenly spread the lime across it. The drop or rotary spreader works by dropping portions of lime from the bottom of it.

Broadcast spreaders, on the other hand, release the lime from a hopper onto a spinning disk which distributes it over your grass lawn. Rotary spreaders are great at covering larger surface areas. Use them when dealing with big yards. A drop spreader, however, is more accurate and applies the lime more evenly.

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Lawn Lime Application

Apply parts of the lime needed for your lawn by walking up and down with your spreader. When you’re done, add the rest to the spreader and walk vertically back and forth across your yard.

Once you are done applying the lime, lightly water your lawn. Watering helps the lime to make its way through to the soil, rinsing off any residue left on the grass blades. Check the soil pH after liming.

Too Much Lime

It is said — as a rule of thumb — that liming lawns should be left to a professional gardening company. But if you decide to do it on your own and problems start to arise, it is most likely that you have added too much lime to your lawn.

Overuse of lime on your lawn will get rid of all the soil acidity, making it too alkaline. Grass does not thrive well in alkaline soil, and it will start to turn yellow. Yellowing grass is unable to absorb vital nutrients and moisture from the soil.

Getting a professional from a garden center to help is the best way to fix a lime problem. You can, however, try to fix it yourself by mulching in organic material for some weeks. This should help to dilute the lime in the soil.

If mulching does not work, try adding horticultural sulfur to your grass lawn as a last resort. This method should counteract the lime and help the soil regain a healthy pH level.

Is Lime Harmful?

As mentioned above, lime comes in different forms. Namely, powder form, pellet form or liquid form. Powder or pellets are commonly used for lawns. Liquid forms would be used if available, but mostly by an experienced lawn company.

Even though lime is a natural substance, it should not be ingested. When working on your lawn with lime powder, you — as the handler — should always wear a heavy-duty mask of sorts.

If you go for pellet lime, make sure that pets or children are not around, as it is easy for them to eat these lime pellets unaware of what they are. The pellets should be thoroughly mixed into the soil before letting pets or children have access to roam the lawn freely.

Generally, humans should avoid contact with the soil until the lime has soaked into it properly.

Contact with lime may cause skin irritations, as well as irritations to the eyes and stomach. But other than that, lime is not harmful. It is best to avoid it though.

Happy Lawn Liming!

One more tip on lawn care before we finish, never apply lime lawn to grasses near acid-loving plants if you want them to survive.

We hope that we’ve helped you in your quest to change soil pH and achieving a healthy lawn with the perfect soil pH and gaining a greener lawn.