Guide to Applying Lime to Your Lawn Correctly

Wondering how to apply agricultural lime to your lawn correctly? Our guide on applying lime to your lawn will teach you all in the ins and outs of using it.

Lime is a soil additive that is made from ground limestone.  Other names it goes by includes Aglime, agricultural limestone, or garden lime.

Adding lime to your lawn supplies the soil with essential nutrients like calcium and magnesium.  These are derived from its primary ingredients, calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.

A common misconception about it is that it can act as a replacement for your standard fertilizer products.  This is not true.

It is often used in combination with standard fertilizers because it improves the uptake of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into plants.  While it plays several different roles in proper lawn care, acting as a fertilizer is not one of them.

Lime can be an integral piece of the puzzle in your search for a vibrant and thriving lawn or garden. 

Keep reading to see our step-by-step guide on spreading lime on your lawn,

What Does It Do For the Soil?

Most lawn grasses will not grow well in acidic soils that have a pH level below 5.5.  Generally speaking, grass growth is optimal when the soil pH levels are between 5.8 and 7.2.  The specific soil pH level for optimal growth depends on your grass and soil type.

Acidic soil makes it difficult for the lawn grass to absorb the nutrients it needs to thrive and grow. 

Lime for lawns will raise the soil’s pH and return it to the preferred range.

A simple soil test will tell you the pH and whether it needs a soil amendment. 

Many different things can change the soil pH level.  Fertilization is a major cause of increased soil acidity.  Pesticides, pollution, acid rain, and several other things can raise your lawn’s soil acidity.

Think of agricultural lime as an antacid that your lawn needs for its overall health and viability.

In addition to being a remedy for acidic soil, liming also provides the soil with nutrients that might otherwise not be present.

By providing calcium and magnesium to soils, it helps the root system of the grass.  These elements will help the grass be more resilient in times of stress like extreme temperatures or drought.

Lime can also be beneficial to use when planting new grass seed or laying new sod.  You are also helping the microorganisms in the soil that are an essential part of maintaining a healthy pH level.

When to Apply

Generally speaking, fall is the best time to apply it to your lawn.

A fall application gives lime the most time to absorb into the ground and correct the pH before the growing season.

A spring application is also acceptable if necessary.  However, it can take quite a while for the it to start working and changing the soil’s pH.

A fall application will allow it to breakdown into the soil as it goes through cycles of rain and snow.

Overall, an application of agricultural lime any time between the fall and spring will prove beneficial.  That being said, fall is still considered the optimal time.

Is it a Good Idea to Apply It Before it Rains?

If rain is on its way, save the lime for another day. Yes it rhymes, and yes it’s true. 

You should never add it to soggy, wet soil. If rain is in the forecast, it is best to wait until after your lawn has drained thoroughly. Too much rain will wash the lime away before the soil has a chance to absorb it.  It’s hard for lime to change the soil pH if it is washed down the storm drain.

Is it a Good Idea to Apply Lime With Fertilizers?

The answer to this question is…it depends. 

The addition of agricultural lime aids in plants’ uptake of essential nutrients and, in this regard, is a good idea.

However, before you apply them together, you need to take a soil sample and perform a soil test.  If your lawn has a soil pH below 6.0, you should avoid applying a fertilizer altogether.  Instead, just apply the Aglime.

This is because acidic soil will not allow the fertilizer’s nutrients to be absorbed effectively.

However, if the pH falls within an acceptable range for fertilization, you can absolutely apply them together.

How to Apply

Follow these steps for proper application.

  1. Check the Soil
    Test your soil to determine the pH.  The soil test results will tell you if your lawn needs lime.
  1. Choose the Correct Type
    There are different types of lime for different types of lawns.  Determine the best type based on your grass, your soil, and your climate.
  1. Select the Correct Amount
    Check the label for the proper amount to put on your lawn.  This number is usually based on the pH of the soil.
  1. Spread It Horizontally
    Using a rotary or drop style lawn spreader, spread ½ the recommended amount horizontally across your lawn.
  1. Spread It Vertically
    Spread the remaining ½ vertically across your lawn.  This will ensure that the area is covered evenly.
  1. Just Add Water
    Lightly water your lawn to help it absorb into the soil.

What to Do About Too Much Lime in Your Lawn

Adding too much lime can be a dangerous thing for the overall health of your turf.  If areas of grass begin to turn yellow after applying the lime, you may have added too much.

One of the most common effects of having too much is iron deficiency.  The turf can also suffer from magnesium or aluminum toxicity.

Too much Aglime can cause the soil to become too alkaline.  An alkaline soil can cause the same problems as soils with too much acid.  Alkaline soils will also impede plants’ absorption of nutrients.

A remedy for lowering a high pH balance caused by excess Aglime is to spread granular elemental sulfur.  Elemental sulfur is oxidized by microorganisms in the earth and turned into sulfuric acid.  This acid will lower the pH.

Adding aluminum sulfate or iron sulfate are two fast solutions.  However, like sulfur, they can also be harmful to your turf’s overall health by adding salts and other elements that may build-up.

Adding fertilizers that contain ammonia or urea can decrease the alkalinity of the soil over time.  It isn’t a quick fix, but it will work.

In some circumstances, you should avoid adding chemical products to your yard.

One natural way to reduce soil’s alkalinity is to add Sphagnum peat.  Add a layer 2″ thick to the turf and work it into the ground at least 6″ deep.  Some larger areas of the property may require tilling.

Last but not least, you can always use mulch or compost.  As the organic matter breaks down, it tends to make the soil more acidic.  The use of organic matter is a slow process.  So be patient.

Additional Tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you get started.

Some Plants Prefer Acidic Soil

Remember that some plants grow well in acidic soil.  The area that they grow needs to be avoided when treating your property.  These include, but are not limited to, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, camellias, and magnolias.

An Acidic Lawn Gathers More Moss

Moss growing in your lawn is a sign that the soil is acidic.  You should always test the soil to be sure, but moss is a tell-tale sign that your yard could probably use liming.

Look for Weeds

The appearance of common weeds in your lawn is an indication of a lower pH.  So if you begin to notice weeds appearing in new places, then it’s probably a good idea to test a soil sample.

Why Won’t It Grow?

If you notice that your lawn is not showing signs of healthy growth or vigor after fertilization, you may have a pH balance problem.  Keep in mind that alkaline soil can cause the same issues as an acidic one.  Therefore, always perform a test on the ground, so you are sure about the pH level.

All You Have to Do Is Ask

The final recommendation is, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  So much of this sort of thing is not common knowledge and can be a bit intimidating.

The bottom line is that it’s okay not to have all the answers.  There are pros at garden centers far and wide that will be happy to help you.  So please don’t make a mistake that could cost you all of the time and work you’ve put in to make your lawn what it is.

Besides, what that answer holds may make your life a whole lot easier.  You never know until you ask.

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The Green Pinky

About the author: Jeffrey Douglas is a horticultural hobbyist that loves everything related to plants and gardening. He specializes in gardens and houseplants.

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