Like most things in life, proper lawn care is all about finding the right balance. A major part of getting a lush, green lawn is having healthy soil that provides your grass with the nutrients it needs. When your soil is too acidic, your grass won’t be able to absorb nutrients in the soil, even the ones you’ve added through fertilization. This can contribute to a dull, worn-out lawn—the opposite of everything you’ve worked toward! The role of lime is to offset the acidity of soil and bring the pH back to the optimal level for the growth of strong, healthy grass.
Lime is made of ground limestone, which contains the compounds calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. These nutrients help protect your lawn from:
This is especially necessary for your lawn to survive and thrive during a long, hot summer. Lime itself is a soil amendment that is used to increase the pH of soil, making it less acidic and more alkaline. If you need a refresher: a pH of 7.0 is neutral, while anything below is acidic and anything above is alkaline. In general, somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5 is healthiest for most grass types. If your soil tests lower than 5.5, your lawn likely doesn’t have access to the nutrients it needs and could benefit from lime. When combined with compost, lime can nourish the helpful bacteria in your soil and help give you a lawn you can be proud of. Want to know more? Check out our previous blog post to learn about composting and how it can help you have the healthiest soil possible.
The surest way to tell whether your lawn could use lime is to either call a lawn professional or do a soil test to determine the pH, but there are visual indicators to take note of as well. While your grass may struggle to grow in acidic soil, plants like moss and common weeds thrive under these conditions. Your lawn may benefit from lime if you notice an increase in:
If you notice that your grass isn’t responding to high-quality lawn fertilizers like you’d expect it to, that could also be an indicator that it isn’t able to absorb nutrients like it should. No matter how many signs you identify, we still recommend doing a soil test to ensure you don’t overlime your lawn, as this can have its own adverse effects.
While lime can be applied at any time throughout the year, fall and spring are generally the most recommended times. When added in the fall, it is most effective, as the cycles of freezing and thawing that follow can help break down the lime. It can take up to two years for lime to break down and move the 2 inches down to your soil, which is why it’s best to only apply it every 3-5 years. Aim to apply when you can irrigate immediately after and wash any residual lime from the grass leaves. Avoid applying lime to wilted or frost-covered lawns, as it can affect your grass’ ability to absorb it.
Liming your lawn is just one of the many factors that go into having a yard you’ll love. Starting with a healthy, nutrient-rich foundation of soil and working to maintain the perfect balance is the key to success. If you don’t want to fuss with all the various aspects of proper lawn care, try calling in a professional to do the job for you. The experts here at Lawn Doctor are here to take care of everything from liming to seeding to perimeter pest control, making it easy for you to get the lawn of your dreams without lifting a finger.