Adding lime to your lawn is as essential as mowing it. Without lime, your lawn will not benefit from the nutrients in your soil including those you add through fertilizers. Understanding how lime helps your lawn and when to apply will help your lawn reach its full potential.
The best time to apply lime to your lawn is fall and spring. Fall has a greater advantage because rain, snow, and cycles of freezing and thawing help lime to break down and work faster. This helps the lime to change the soil pH easily and much faster.
Lime can burn newly planted grass, so wait to apply lime after the growing season has ended. It is best to apply during spring or fall to keep your lawn safe.
What does Lime do for lawns?
Lime for lawns reduces soil acidity and restores soil PH to optimal growing levels. The right PH for your soil should range between 6 and 7. Lawn grass struggles to grow when the soil becomes too acidic. Additionally, plants that flourish in acidic soil, like Lawn Moss, will replace your grass. Therefore, use lime to help your grass grow by restoring the soil PH to an alkaline state.
Besides correcting your soil’s acidity, Lime also adds calcium and magnesium. Naturally, in areas that experience heavy rainfall, Calcium leaches out as rainwater pass through the soil. The nutrients are important to preserve your lawn’s green color and vigor and protect it from damage caused by drought, heat, or traffic stress.
Lime also prevents toxic effects arising from the build-up of damaging nutrients like aluminum, magnesium, and iron in your lawn that prevents growth. The calcium accumulates in areas with minimal rainfall, making the soil too alkaline. Lime rectifies alkalinity and nourishes beneficial bacteria in soil, especially when combined with compost.
When to Apply Lime to a Lawn
The best time to apply lime is just before the first frost in fall to give your lawn all winter to absorb it and correct the pH. It is, however, recommended that you apply lime to your lawn when the soil becomes too acidic.
There are various ways to identify whether the soil on the lawn is too acidic.
How to test the acidity of the soil on your lawn
Soil PH test
Your lawn will flourish when the soil has a PH of between 6 and 7. A PH below 6 indicates that your soil is highly acidic and will cause damage to your lawn. You can determine the PH of the soil on your lawn by using DIY home soil savvy test kits available at local convenient stores. You can also contact your nearest soil testing professional. Testing for the PH not only reveals the PH level but also reveals nutrient deficiency and excesses. A soil test will also show you the amount of lime used on your lawn based on the PH.
You can also know when your lawn needs lime when identifying plants that flourish in acidic soils, like lawn moss growing on your lawn. Other warning signs include common lawn weeds, diseases, and insect pests.
You will also notice that your lawn does not respond to quality fertilizers because of excess soil acidity.
Once you have identified that your lawn soil is acidic, the best time to apply lime to your lawn is fall or spring. Fall has a greater advantage because rain, snow, and freezing and thawing cycles help lime break down and work faster. This helps the lime to change the soil PH easily and much faster.
Can you apply lime on the lawn before it rains?
No, you should not apply lime on a lawn before rain. Always check your weather forecast and delay applying lime until the rain is over and your lawn has dried. Do not also apply lime on dry grass; water your lawn to moisten your grass and soil to apply lime. Water the lawn once more after applying the fertilizer to encourage the soil to absorb the lime.
Can you apply lime and fertilizer at the same time?
Yes, you can blend lime and fertilizer and apply them together or make two separate applications simultaneously. This will save you time, and the fertilizer will offer an immediate supply of nutrients as the lime slowly balances the soil’s PH over time. Here is a step-by-step process of how to apply lime and fertilizer at the same time.
How to Apply Lime and Fertilizer at the same time
You will need the following:
A soil pH tester, a shovel, a gardening hose, lime pellets, fertilizer, and a drop spreader. Once you have these and have done a DIY soil pH test to determine if you need to reduce the acidity of your lawn.
Here’s how you can apply lime and fertilizer at the same time:
- Water your lawn for two days before applying the fertilizer to prevent the nitrogen from burning your grass.
- Add lime palettes to a drop spreader. Use 50 lbs of lime on a 1,000-square-foot area and roll the spreader across the yard.
- Fill the drop spreader with the fertilizer or apply the fertilizer by hand.
- Water your lawn to help the soil to dissolve the lime pellets.
How often should you put lime on your lawn?
You should add lime on your lawn as often as the soil acidity is high and needs correcting for the type of grass you’re establishing in your lawn. This is identified through a soil PH test. For your grass to grow, the soil in your lawn should have a PH of 6-7. Anything below that means your soil is acidic, and you must add lime.
An application to bring soil PH to 6.5 should last 4 to 6 years. The soil test will reveal how much lime you need based on the soil PH. Wait till spring or fall to add lime to your lawn. Also, wait till the soil is dry.
Can you add too much lime on a lawn?
Is it OK to apply too much lime on the lawn? Yes, you can. While lime application increases the soil pH to promote grass’s healthy growth, lime can become too much. How much lime is needed for your lawn is determined by the soil pH test you conduct and your soil texture.
Generally, if you have a pH of 5.5, apply 30 pounds for sandy soil, 80 pounds for loam soil, and 100 pounds for clay soil. If your pH is 4.5, add an extra 20 pounds for sandy soil, 90 pounds for clay soil, and 50 pounds for clay soil.
Ideally, DO NOT exceed 50 pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet.
The negative effects of applying too much lime on a lawn
Iron deficiency is the most common effect of too much lime on a lawn. This will cause your lawn to turn yellow. Applying too much lime to your soil can also cause excess calcium in your soil. This blocks its ability to absorb magnesium.
How to fix too much lime in your lawn
Conduct a soil test to determine the PH levels. If they are above 7, then the alkaline levels are too high. Once you have identified that there is too much lime on the lawn, you can correct the problem using the steps below:
- Wait a month or two and mulch organic matter with your lawn mower to reduce the lime and add water.
- Add horticultural sulfur to lower the PH levels. Please be careful not to add too much sulfur because it will make the soil acidic.
- You can also top-dress your lawn with a thin layer (1/4 inch) of compost. Check out my blog on how to create cow manure compost and compost from onions and onion peelings.
- Re-test the soil pH to check the alkalinity level. If still high, repeat the above steps.
- Thomas M. Rathier, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station: The best time to apply lime to your lawn
- The Roanoke Times: How often should you apply lime on your lawn?