Commercial property owners understand that a lush, green lawn can enhance curb appeal and give a professional first impression. It’s common belief that fertilizer = green, so it’s not uncommon to see 2-3 fertilizer applications in an annual maintenance agreement. With all of those supplemental nutrients, it’s hard to imagine a lawn could still turn out thin and riddled with weeds. If despite your best efforts, your property’s turf is in an overall state of decline, you may need to do a little digging to get to the root of the issue—seriously, look below the surface! It may be time to lime.
Lime application is a widely overlooked service in annual maintenance contracts but could be the answer to all of your lawn’s problems. So what does lime do and why is it important?
To really answer that question, we have to lay the foundation by talking basic soil chemistry. Nutrient availability is largely determined by the pH of the soil. pH is the measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance—in this case, the soil in the root zone of the turf.
Here are some pH basics:
- pH ranges from 1-14 with 1 being extremely acidic, 14 being extremely alkaline, and 7 being neutral
- When pH strays to one extreme or the other, nutrients cannot be absorbed because they are being tightly held by the soil thereby being unavailable to the turf root mass
- Lawns prefer a relatively neutral soil (pH 6.5 – 7.2)
- pH changes as a result of fertilizer applications and rain and tends to become more acidic with time
- Adding lime to soil raises the pH back to a more neutral range and frees up tightly held nutrients for root absorption
What is Lawn Lime?
Lime is a soil conditioner made from limestone, which is high in Calcium. It is typically ground into a powder or pellet consistency and applied to the surface of a lawn. Lime is not a fertilizer, but rather an additive that raises the pH of the soil and makes essential nutrients available to turf roots. Even when nutrients are plentiful in the soil, they cannot be absorbed if the pH is not in the optimal range (6.5-7.2). Lime helps to remedy this issue by restoring the pH balance and therefore makes the applied fertilizer seasonally useful again.
Signs You Need Lime
Weeds prefer more acidic soils and will thrive in a lower pH. So, if your lawn’s pH levels become acidic, you could be unintentionally inviting unwanted moss and turf weeds to take over your lawn. As the weeds grow stronger, the turf will show signs of stress from lack of available nutrients, and as it becomes weak, the turf will eventually become discolored and thin.
How Much Lime Do You Need?
This question can only be answered with a soil test. Soil tests show the current state of the soil including pH levels, nutrient content, texture, and more. When a soil test is performed by a reputable lab, they will not only explain the soil’s current state, but will also make recommendations to bring the soil back into optimal range and avoid high levels in the future. Because soil pH can change over time, it is recommended that soil gets tested every 3 years.
When Should You Apply Lime?
While lime can be applied at any time of the year, a good practice is to apply lime in conjunction with aeration and overseeding in the fall. Aeration is the process of loosening the soil by removing small “plugs.” When lime is applied at the same time as these other services, there is a greater surface area of soil exposed to the lime, which helps to accelerate the effectiveness of the lime. Fall rains and winter snows also help the lime settle into the soil and break down, which helps to lower the pH faster.
See the benefits of lime for yourself—contact Complete Landscaping Services to establish a lawn care plan today!