Lime application becomes a hot topic at this time of year. For proof, the marketing activity of many lawn care companies intensifies close to spring with an abundance of special offers for lime applications.
Homeowners are led to believe that a lime application in spring is as important as watering or mowing your lawn; otherwise, your turf cannot get the nutrients it needs.
Before jumping on these offers, here is what you need to know about lime application to your lawn.
What is Lime?
Lime is a soil amendment made of limestone rocks that naturally contain magnesium and calcium carbonates. Although lime contains those minerals, a lime application is not a substitute for your fertilizer.
A lime application increases the soil pH and consequently reduces its acidity.
Typically, if you live in Chester County, PA, you need your soil pH between 6.2 and 7.
Anything below 6.2 is considered acidic in our area.
Over 7, your soil is considered too alkaline, and that’s not good either.
These numbers may vary in other parts of the country between 5.8 and 7.2 depending on grass species and soil composition.
The Myth About Lime Application
There is a general tendency probably coming from the agricultural business to treat lawns like food crops in our area that may justify annual lime application practices.
Yet, the difference in nutrients needed for soil growing grass and growing food crops is important. Therefore, the best practices for food crops cannot be systematically applied to lawn care.
In Chester County, PA, your lawn needs a lime application in spring only if your soil’s pH is lower than 6.2.
So, unless your soil really needs it, your lawn may not need any lime application at all.
In other words, most lime applications offered for “new” customers subscribing to lawn care plans without measuring the soil pH are just commercial fluff, and they may even harm your lawn.
Therefore, measure your soil pH first, and here is why.
Soil Analysis is Essential
When soil is too acidic, your turf struggles to grow, moss develops, weeds appear, and you start seeing more pests invade your lawn. Your soil acidity will even inhibit the best insecticides.
If your soil is too alkaline, your turf will struggle to absorb minerals and nutrients properly. Hence, similar problems appear.
Therefore, before applying lime, measure your soil’s pH, check the data, and make an informed decision.
Of course, there are other independent labs, and we invite you to connect with them.
The process with labs is straightforward, and all you have to do is take a soil sample, send it to the lab, and wait to get the results back.
If you discover that your soil is too alkaline, you need to avoid any lime application and make sure to lower the pH level.
Some active ingredients like calcium sulfate and sulfur can help you balance your soil and reduce its pH.
Your soil’s pH changes over time for many different reasons. So, it’s good to keep an eye on it periodically.
If your lawn can use some lime, the timing of the application is critical.
Avoid periods of heat or frost because high or freezing temperatures can negatively affect the chemical breakdown process.
Fall and spring are generally the best times for lime application, although fall is preferred because the natural elements during fall and winter help lime break down and begin to work. If you need help, contact us.