When to Apply Lime to Lawn
Last updated: 5/5/2021
Estimated read time: 3 minutes
How Do I Know If My Lawn Needs Lime?
Lawn appearance doesn’t necessarily determine whether or not lime should be applied. Instead, you should use a pH level test to help you determine this. You can use a home testing kit, or have your soil tested by a professional to determine the pH level. If the test indicates that the pH level is less than 6.0, lime application is necessary. Soils with a pH below 6.0 are considered acidic while soils with a pH above 7.0 are considered to be base or alkaline.
Acidity can be caused by:
- Using too many nitrogen-based fertilizers
- Using composts
- Rainwater with sulfur in it
What is the Purpose of Lime for Lawns?
The purpose of lime for a lawn, when used appropriately, is it will slowly decrease the soil acidity and bring the pH to the desirable area of a pH of 6.2-7.0. This is especially the case in Maryland, where the pH for the cool weather tall fescue grasses is best in the 6.2-7.0 range. Any pH below 5.0 is generally too acidic for grasses to grow and thrive. Soils in heavily wooded areas nearly always have a high acid characteristic. Without knowledge of the pH of your soil, you are not able to supply your lawn with the appropriate nutrition for the lawn.
When to put Lime on Lawn?
The winter is an ideal time to apply lime to your lawn since you usually won’t be applying herbicides or other treatments at this time. Of course, there are other factors that determine whether or not lime should be applied. Winter, however, is the recommended season to apply lime because lime is used to treat soil, not grass. You are preparing for the next season’s growth.
Lime can burn growing grass, so you’ll want to make sure you apply it after the growing season has ended. In areas where winters are extremely cold, lime should be applied during the first frost. This is because the thaw/freeze cycle assists lime in penetrating the soil.
Can I Apply Lime and Fertilizer at the Same Time?
Since fertilizers need to be in the 6.2-7.0 pH range to be the most effective, we recommend waiting to fertilize until after a lime application shifts the acidity back into the desired range. Lime also works well with aeration and seeding. The addition of lime with a heavy aeration and when you seed new grass will certainly help in the beginning lawn process. The lime and aeration will create an environment that will allow micronutrients to be released from fertilizer and will promote healthy lawn growth. Micronutrients are essential for a healthy lawn.
Here are the three keys for a healthy, thick lawn:
Tips for Liming, Aeration and Seeding:
- Apply lime when you apply seed. Lime needs to be applied at a rate of 40 pounds per 1000 square feet. When you start a new lawn, lime will help the process immensely.
- Double aerate, at cross angles. Pull plugs from the turf, 3"-4" in length, are best.
- Double aeration will result in a nice pattern of new grass. Single aeration results in small tufts of grass.
- Leave the plugs alone as the plug will break apart.
- Do not collect the lawn clippings.
- Do not use spiked shoes for aeration. The spike will compact the soil even further.
- Seed at the recommended rate.
- Keep the grass seed moist, water daily to keep the grass seed from drying out.
- If you cannot do this yourself: call a lawn care professional at 410-867-8873.
When it comes to applying lime on your lawn - or any other lawn care task - it can be a little confusing to learn. No matter what you read online, the truth is you don’t have the full scope of knowledge and experience that professionals who do this every day do. Sometimes it’s easier to just leave it in their hands to ensure your lawn is getting the best lawn care treatment, without question. Blades of Green can help lime your lawn this upcoming winter and prepare it for optimal growth in the next growing season.