If you’ve noticed that your grass is looking a little yellow, or that your plants are wilting just a bit, it’s possible that your lawn needs lime treatment. Read this quick guide for a brief introduction on why treatment may be necessary, when you should do it, and how you can go about it.
Lime treatment is needed when the pH balance of your soil is out of whack. Here in the Midwest, we get our fair share of rain, which can remove alkaline elements like calcium, magnesium, and potassium with runoff, leaving behind acidic elements that include hydrogen, aluminum, and manganese. The result is soil with a high acidity level, which is detrimental to many types of plants and grasses. Kentucky Bluegrass, for example, grows best in with a pH level that’s closer to neutral, so it won’t receive the nutrients it needs from acidic soil.
Limestone increases the pH level of acidic soil by providing calcium and magnesium. It also allows for better water movement through the soil and will enable plants to properly take in necessary nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Lime can help boost beneficial bacteria in the soil when combined with compost.
Keep an eye on your lawn’s health. If your grass and plants are getting sufficient sunlight and water, and you’re wondering why they’re still not healthy, acidic soil may be the cause.
You can get a pH test from the gardening section of your local home improvement store. Though not always the most accurate, they can be a good indicator of the pH level of your soil. A pH balance of less than 7 is acidic, higher than 7 is alkaline, and 7 is neutral.
If you’ve determined that your soil is acidic, then a limestone application may be necessary. To know exactly how much limestone to use, you’ll need to consult with your county extension office.
Limestone can also be applied when you’re establishing new turfgrass before it’s laid. More on how to do that below.
DO NOT apply limestone during frosty weather, or on a wet or wilted lawn.
Because limestone moves slowly through soil, it need only be applied every 2-3 years.
Limestone pellets are generally acceptable to use, but when choosing a lime product it’s highly recommended that you consult with a professional. A general rule is to select limestone that has a relative neutralizing value of 80% or higher.
When laying turfgrass, work limestone 4-6 inches into the soil wherever turf is to be laid. Rotary-type spreaders are good for spreading most types of limestone, but it can also be applied by hand. For quality coverage, apply it in a crisscross pattern (first applying east/west and then applying north/south, for example).
Limestone can be a tricky business. It’s important to know that you’re laying the proper amount, at the right time, in the right places. Hopefully, this brief guide was a good introduction for you. But if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, we’ll be happy to field any questions you have. After all, that’s what we do.
Contact us at Greentech for more information!