Lime For Lawns [Master Guide – All Your Questions Answered]
Have you tried all you could to make your lawn look good but somehow, it is still not living up to your expectations? Apart from feeding your lawn with fertiliser, you also need to consider other things to keep your lawn beautiful and in good shape.
Most likely, you might need to consider applying lime for your lawn. In this post, we answer all questions you might have on how to know if your lawn needs lime and other related issues. The information you get here may help you achieve the lawn of your dreams.
How does soil condition affect lawn growth?
For lawn grasses to grow, the soil upon which they grow must be fertile and not too acidic. Some nutrients (such as potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium) required for optimal growth of lawn grasses might be unavailable in the acidic soil. In turn, this can result in poor growth of lawn grasses.
Lawn grasses perform optimally in slightly acidic soil with a pH value between 5.8 and 7. This pH value refers to the concentration of hydrogen ions in the soil. Thus, the soil is acidic if its pH value is less than 7.0, neutral if it has a pH value of 7.0 and alkaline if the soil pH value ranges from 7.1 to 14.0. Note here that lawn grasses do not grow well in soils that have a pH of less than 5.5.
What is lime?
Lime is a solid mineral gotten from limestone. We are concerned about is the AGLIME which is also referred to as GARDEN LIME. Its active constituents are calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. When added to the soil, the active agents in lime help to increase the pH of the soil, i.e., make the soil less acidic.
What Makes the soil needs liming?
Many factors account for why soils become more acidic over time. It is essential to quickly note that when the soil acid levels are increasing, one needs to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation. Causes of increasing soil acid levels includes:-
Also, the continued use of soil nutrients by lawn grasses may lead to loss of nutrients and increase in soil acidity.
How do I know If my lawn needs liming?
The most accurate way of knowing if your lawn needs liming is to do a soil test. The soil test determines the pH of the soil on which your lawn grasses are growing. The pH result is then used to determine whether the soil is too acidic or not.
Soil tests are quite cheap and easy to do. You can take samples of your soil to university or research institute labs, preferably if they have agricultural labs for testing. It can take a few days or weeks before you get lab results for your soil test.
Another option is to visit local agricultural extension service centers around you for testing. If you are a DIY fan, there are DIY soil test kits that you can get for less than $20 in garden stores. You should note that DIY kits may not provide all the information to determine how much lime you need to add to your soil.
Some visible symptoms which may indicate the need for lime include, growth of weeds, yellow coloration, patchiness, and stunted growth.
What are the benefits of liming my soil?
First, lime helps to adjust the pH of highly acidic soil to higher pH value (i.e., to reduce its acidic concentration). Once pH balance is achieved, the following benefits become a reality:
- 1Essential nutrients that were formerly lacking when the soil was too acidic will be made available.
- 2The activities of soil microbes are enhanced so the patches can easily decompose.
- 3It boosts the effectiveness of herbicides and fertilizers.
- 4Lawn grasses grow successfully and become resistant to the stress imposed by drought or snow.
When is the best time to lime my lawn?
Experts agree that liming can be done anytime. But there has been increasing evidence that liming is best done during fall. This is because fall provides enough time for the lime to work in the soil before the growing season starts. The liming effect can be enhanced if the soil is compact. A rototiller can make this happen.
It is also important to note that whether you are applying lime during fall or spring, early morning or evenings are the ideal times for application.
Are there different types of lime?
Yes, there are 2 main types – dolomitic and calcitic – of agricultural lime are used as lime for lawns.
Dolomitic lime consists of the mineral dolomite - mainly of calcium magnesium carbonate. Calcitic lime is derived from chalk, limestone, or marlstone. Its major constituent is calcium carbonate.
Both dolomitic and calcitic lime contains small amounts of additional elements. However, it is the percentage content of pure calcium carbonate that determines the quality of lime products. The calcium carbonate equivalent, or CCE, is used in calculations to determine the amount of lime required per acre. Lime quality can also be determined by its fineness when it is passed through sieves having different mesh sizes.
Another criterion for ranking lime quality includes effective neutralizing material (ENM). ENM is given in percentages, and it functions in rating the quality of lime.
Most agricultural lime for lawns has ENM values between 70 to 90%. The higher the ENM, the less quantity of lime required per acre. I have used quite a few brands of lime for my lawn and the pennington is still my favourite.
Agricultural lime products may also come in pellets or powdered form. In pellet form, the lime aggregates with a binder which dissolves in time to release the lime into the soil for action.
Pelletized lime is preferred to powdered lime because they are easier to handle and apply. Additionally, powdered lime is easily carried away by wind and can turn messy during application.
Which type of lime should I apply?
The type of lime you choose should apply will be based on the results of your soil test. If your soil is acidic but has an adequate amount of nutrients, then calcitic lime is the better choice. On the other hand, if your soil is acidic and its magnesium content is very low, dolomitic lime is the preferred option.
Also, since lime quality varies depending on brands, you can check for the effective neutralizing value on the products to determine which one you prefer.
The lower the ENM value, the more quantity of the product you are required to apply. To save cost, it is advisable to choose agricultural lime products which have a neutralizing value that is greater than 80 percent. For example, Pennington Lime products have neutralizing values starting from 89 percent.
Lime for lawns having higher neutralizing value may seem more expensive when compared to those with lower ENM. You tend to save more on higher ENM products as you need a lesser quantity to achieve your desired results. Lower ENM products most times require more volume of lime to achieve the same result.
How do I know the right quantity of lime to use?
Information derived from the results of the soil test earlier is the best indicator for determining what quantity of lime your lawn needs. If you cannot interpret soil test numbers, you can ask professional gardeners to help you determine the exact quantity of lime to use.
The amount of lime required for lawns is usually expressed on products as a specific number of pounds per 1,000 square feet (one acre is 43,560 square feet). A working example might be 50 pounds of pelletized limestone per 1,000 sq. feet of lawn space. Agricultural lime usually comes in 40 or 50-pound bags.
What are the effects of using excess lime have on my lawn?
Lawn grasses require moderate soil pH for optimal growth. Excess lime in the soil will increase soil alkalinity. Alkaline soils can lead to poor root development. Thus, this can lead to wilting of grass and stunted growth.
To avoid excess lime in your lawn, you must calculate and gauge the amount of lime your lawn needs. If you are unsure, ask a gardener.
How do I apply lime on my lawn?
Method of lime application depends on the type of lime you are using, the texture and the size of your lawn. Many people tend to prefer pelletized lime for lawn over the powdered type due to the ease of handling.
Rotary Spreader for Sizeable lawns
Drop Spreader for Smaller lawns
For sizeable lawns, a rotary-type spreader should give the best and most even lime application. You may also consider using a drop-style spreader. When applying lime on small lawns, this type of spreader may be very useful.
You can also rent the right equipment for lime application from gardeners or hire them to do it for you. Whichever method you choose, don't spread powdered lime on a windy day. Also, consider zig-zag or random movements when applying lime. A broadcaster attached to a lawn mower can help achieve this conveniently.
Are there precautions I need to take when liming my lawn?
First, pay attention to manufacturers’ precaution. This may include the use of nose cover when applying powdered lime. It may also include keeping chemicals away from food substances and the reach of children. County dwellers may avoid using lime close to wells as it is likely to cause hardness of the water.
During application, you can deliberately leave out areas (a few centimeters) close to plants within the landscape such as Blueberries, Holly bushes, Beech trees, Dogwood trees, and Gardenias. These plants thrive well in acidic soil with pH 5.5 or less.
Lastly, ensure that you abide by the rules of personal hygiene after use.
How long does it take for lime to work?
As soil needs differ, so does time required for visible changes to occur. Some lawns can start showing improvements just a few weeks after lime application. Some may take a month before showing considerable signs of progress.
It is a better view liming with an investor's mindset. Applying lime to your lawn may not start paying off immediately. The good news is that the resources utilized will help give healthier lawn in the long run.
How often should I lime my lawn?
How often you lime your lawn depends on individual peculiarities. Factors such as soil type, type of lime being used, and how susceptible your soil is to leach should be considered.
For instance, lime tends to drain through lawns composed chiefly of sandy soil and usually require a more frequent lime application than yards with stickier clay particles. Each type of soil is unique and may present different challenges. Also, decaying organic matter can be introduced to the soil to help sandy soils mix well with lime and reduce leaching.
For the reasons mentioned above, opinions on how often to apply lime can range from every few months or yearly to once every couple of years. Therefore, the best thing is to always take note of the condition of your soil at different seasons.
What should I do if after liming I don't get the desired change?
If you have applied lime to your soil based on the test results and there are no visible changes after 4 months, request professional help. There could be more to your garden soil than just acid issues.
Achieving that lush garden that can serve as a nice backdrop for family photographs or other aesthetic uses is possible if we take good care of it. Remember that applying lime to your lawn is an opportunity to invest for a healthier and greener lawn.