Lime On Lawn: Does Your Grass Need Lime Treatment?

lime on lawn

You may have heard one of your parents or grandparents or the gardener down the street who has the best looking flowers and lawn say, “You got to add lime to sweeten the soil!” In many cases that is true, but not for every lawn or landscape. It’s important to determine the pH of the soil before adding any amendments to the lawn. pH levels that are below a scale of 6.5 are considered acidic while pH levels that are above a scale of 7.0 are considered alkaline. Neutral pH is from a scale of 6.5 to 7.0.

When soils are tested, and show that they are in the acidic range, adding lime is the appropriate soil amendment to add. If soils are in the alkaline range, then sulfur should be added. A soil test from a university extension service or accredited soil test lab is the best way to determine the current pH level. In most cases, these labs will also provide the amount of lime or sulfur needed per 1,000 sq. ft. to adjust the pH level.

There are do-it-yourself pH test kits that come with litmus paper that will provide an approximate pH level based on a color chart. These are not very accurate and may or may not provide information on how much lime or sulfur to apply.

There are parts of the US where pH levels are usually low or usually high. Parts of the Midwest generally have more alkaline or higher pH levels, although there are places where lime may be necessary. Many parts of the Eastern US and Pacific Northwest have low pH levels. Lime can be added at any point of the year, but spring and fall are best as climate such as rain and normal freeze and thaw cycles in the fall allow it to work faster.

Benefits of Adding Lime to Your Lawn

There are several advantages including:

• Improves the quality of the soil to allow plants to grow and flourish.
• Soil nutrients become more readily available to be better utilized by the plants.
• Soil microbes and earthworms are more active at breaking down organic matter at a neutral pH level.
• Plants will be greener, stronger and will develop an improved and stronger root system.
• Lime is a great source of calcium, another nutrient that improves the growing conditions of lawns and landscapes.

Common Questions Asked About Lime Applications

Can you apply lime and grass seed at the same time?

Lime can be mixed with seed or fertilizer and applied at the same time or they can be applied separately, one after the other.

How much lime is needed on a lawn?

In most cases, 5 to 10 pounds of lime per 1,000 sq. ft. is the standard rate, unless a soil test indicates different amounts need to be applied.

Can the application burn the lawn?

Too much of a good thing is never a good idea, but rates of as high as 50 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. can be applied without damage to the lawn if recommended by a soil test.

Is it harmful to pets?

Lime is considered relatively non-toxic to family pets. They are free to walk across a lawn that has been treated with lime. If it has been applied as a liquid instead of in a granular formulation, it would be best to keep your pets off the lawn until the spray has dried.

The important thing to understand is that one application may be good for one year, but the material will be used up by the soil microbes and will also leach through the soil profile. That is why annual applications may be required, if so indicated by a soil test.
To find out more about lime applications, contact your local lawn care professional at Spring-Green or visit our services page to learn more about this treatment.

Lawn Lime Treatment: Should You Add Lime To Your Lawn?

lawn lime treatment

Depending upon where you live, adding a lawn lime treatment to your lawn is as necessary as adding fertilizer or even mowing it on a regular basis. Unless the pH of the soil is determined by a soil test, the fertilizer you apply may provide little benefit to the lawn. If your soil is too acidic, meaning that the pH is below 6.5, the fertilizer is not properly utilized by the grass plant and the lawn will appear weak and have a dull green to yellow color.

The soil in some areas of the US is naturally acidic, so adding lime every year is a necessity. For other parts of the country, having a soil test will help determine if lime is needed to counteract acidic soil or sulfur is needed to correct soil that is too alkaline. The most common soil pH problem involves the soil being too acidic.

Here are the basic steps to follow when taking a soil sample:

  1. Using a clean, rust-free trowel, take samples from up to 10 areas of your lawn.
  2. Each sample should be about 6 to 8 inches deep.
  3. Remove the grass and any thatch at the top and save about 2 to 3 inches from the middle of the sample.
  4. Mix the samples together in a clear container and allow them to dry at room temperature.
  5. Send the sample to a soil testing lab, such as the county cooperative extension service in your community. Contact the service first for fees and where to mail the sample.

There is other valuable information that you can learn from a soil test beside the pH level, such as the amount of phosphorus and potassium that the soil contains. There may be a situation where the addition of supplemental nutrients is necessary. The other reason for determining the pH of the soil is that applying lime to a lawn that has a high pH can harm the lawn instead of helping it. If the soil test of the lawn shows it to be very acidic, yearly tests may be necessary.

When To Apply Lawn Lime Treatment

A lawn lime treatment can be applied at any time of the year, but spring and fall are probably the best times to apply it. The main reason to do so is that is when the most rain fall occurs. An added benefit for a fall application, is the normal freeze and thaw cycles help break down the lime and allow it to work faster.

If your lawn does not seem to respond to fertilizer applications and appears weak and has a dull color, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. They can advise on the best practices to help ensure a healthy, green lawn, including soil samples and lawn lime treatment applications.

Do You Actually Have to Add Lime to “Sweeten the Soil”?

lime treatments for your lawn

Adding lime to a lawn or garden to “sweeten the soil” is one of the numerous sayings that people often espouse regarding their gardening efforts. There is a good deal of truth in this adage, but there is also some reservation that this is a good practice for every lawn.

The best and only way to determine if your lawn truly needs lime is to have the soil pH tested by a reputable soil testing service. Most County Extension Services offer soil testing services for free or for a small fee. Do a search on line for soil testing services and you will find many options in your area.

Turf grasses grow best at a neutral pH of 6.5 to 7.0. below 6.5, and the soil is considered to be acid or “sour.” Lime would be the best material to raise the pH. If the pH is above 7.0, then the soil is too alkaline, using sulfur to lower the pH is the best solution. Most soil tests will provide recommendations on what products should be added to the lawn to correct any deficiencies.

Does your lawn need an application of lime?

Although a soil test is the best indicator of soil pH, there are a few signs that may help you determine if your lawn needs to have an application of lime.

  1. Excessive weed or moss growth – many weeds and moss are acid-loving plants and grow better in low pH soils.
  2. Poor response to fertilizer applications – low pH inhibits the utilization of nutrients from a fertilizer application, regardless of how much is applied or how often.
  3. Sandy soils – sandy soils don’t maintain a good pH for very long. Calcium, an important nutrient for good turf growth, can quickly leach from the soil, leaving it more acidic.
  4. Older soils – over time, soils can become more acidic because of rainfall and organic matter that breaks down, which can be a natural process of the lawn and can leave the soil more acidic.

When taking samples from your lawn for a soil test, it is best to provide about 3 cups of soil that is not too wet. Remove any grass or thatch from the top of the sample. If you don’t own a soil probe, you will have to use a garden trowel to take the samples. Take soil from the top three to four inches of the lawn. Try to take samples from 10 to 20 different sites from your lawn and mix them all together in a box or bag.  Soil pH will vary from spot to spot within in any lawn, so the idea is to get a mixture of soil from across your lawn.

The amount of lime you need to add will be based on the soil test recommendations. The amounts can range from 5 pounds of lime per 1,000 sq. ft. to as much as 100 pounds of lime per 1,000 sq. ft. I know that I plan to test my soil this year as I have never had a test done on my own lawn. I just may  find out that I need to add some lime to my lawn to make it look even better than it already does.

To find out more about lime applications for your lawn, contact your Neighborhood Lawn Care Professional at Spring-Green.