When planting a new lawn or treating your existing one, you’ll likely come across a million different year round lawn care tips that can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to this game. While we all have different preferences when it comes to the look and feel of our lawn, we think everyone can agree that a lush, green, healthy lawn that makes all the neighbors just a little bit jealous. A lawn care treatment that often flies under the radar is a lime application — a procedure that helps to balance the pH levels of your soil. Lime is a type of soil amendment, or a substance used to improve the health of your lawn, made from limestone that adds calcium to the soil to combat acidity. Over time your soil can become more acidic, or it might be naturally acidic, which is not optimal for healthy grass to grow in certain environments. If you live in a place with regular or heavy rainfall, you’ll come across this problem at some point — the rain washes away many nutrients that can be hard to restore. Applying a lime treatment can help your lawn recover the nutrients that have been lost to the acidity and even repair the damage caused by it. But how do you tell if your lawn needs lime?
Signs You Need to Apply Lime
Have you tried just about every fertilizer, weed killer, or soil conditioner you can find and you’re still not sure what’s wrong with your lawn? It’s possible your soil’s pH is off and needs a lime application to fix the problem. Here is how to tell if your yard needs lime:
You have sandy or clay soil. Both of these are naturally acidic.
Weeds or moss have grown in your yard.
The fertilizer you’re using doesn’t appear to be working. Most fertilizers don’t work when the soil’s pH becomes too acidic.
Your area experiences a lot of rainfall, especially acid rain.
The grass is yellowing.
You’ve recently experienced a drought and your lawn is having trouble recovering.
A soil test reveals the pH of your lawn is lower than 6.2.
How to Detect Soil pH
Cultivating a healthy lawn starts from the ground up (literally). pH is the measurement of how basic or acidic something is. It’s important to consider soil pH when growing plants and grass because it determines how many nutrients they’ll be able to absorb from the soil. The more acidic your soil is, the less nutrients will be available — providing the perfect environment for grass to die and weeds to thrive. On a scale of 0-14, 0 is the most acidic and 14 is the most basic, but plants like somewhere in the middle. Ideally, you want to be somewhere between a 6.5 and a 7.0 for optimal grass growth. There are a few methods for testing your soil’s pH levels: sending a sample off to a lab, using a soil pH meter, or doing it yourself with a few at-home materials. If you’re opting for the DIY route, take a look at these steps:
What you’ll need
2 plastic containers
How to conduct pH test
Collect one cup of soil from your yard and separate it into the two plastic containers.
Add ½ cup of vinegar to one of the containers. If it sizzles, you have a more basic soil.
If the soil from the first container does not sizzle, take the second container of soil and add about two tablespoons of water until it’s muddy.
In the second container that is now mud, add ½ cup of baking soda. If it sizzles, you have a more acidic soil.
If neither container of soil reacts to the vinegar or baking soda, your soil is neutral (lucky you!).
How and When to Apply a Lime Application
Once you’ve determined your soil’s pH and found it to be acidic (lower than 7 on the scale), it’s time to apply a lime application. Consider aerating your lawn before liming to ensure the soil amendment reaches deep into the soil and produces the best results!Pelletized lime can be purchased at any home improvement store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot and can be applied easily. The pellet version of the ground limestone is more efficient than powder versions because it’s less likely to blow away in the wind and will stay put once it reaches the soil. A 40 pound bag will cover about 1,000 square feet of yard, so plan accordingly based on the size of your lawn. Use a drop or rotary spreader to effectively blanket the grass with a layer of lime — never use your hands because it can irritate the skin. This process works best when done in the early spring. But, lime should never be applied to a wet lawn, so check the forecast before planning a lime application. It’s also important to note that it takes a few months to start seeing a difference, so be patient and let the lime work its magic. For more information on when to lime, check out our blog, Benefits of a Spring Lime Application.
Year Round Lawn Care
Still wondering how to tell if your lawn needs lime? DIY lawn care can seem like a daunting task for some, so if you’re not up to the challenge, schedule an appointment with us today. We provide our customers with environmentally friendly and affordable lawn care all year round that keeps your yard looking and feeling healthy. Schedule a service with our professional lawn care team!
Content was originally published on December 21, 2017. Content was refreshed on March 6, 2020.
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