Grow a Lime-Green Lawn
The lawn is the pride and joy of many homeowners. Treat it right and you can keep it that way.
If you have not had the soil under your lawn tested in the past three years or more, most likely it is quite acid. If so, you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck by applying lime in place of fertilizer.
The addition of lime not only raises the pH of the soil to a more desirable level for plant growth but also supplies much-needed calcium and magnesium. The addition of lime also helps deteriorate the thatch that has been accumulating from frequent mowing. Even though you may bag your lawn clippings, baggers attached to lawnmowers are not 100 percent effective. Ten to 20 percent of clippings settle between the blades of grass and accumulate on the surface of the soil. This is especially true if you mow your lawn short.
If you do not bag your clippings with each mowing, you could have extensive thatch accumulation that will not rot because the soil is too acid.
The addition of lime in place of fertilizer will raise the pH of the soil and release nutrients to the roots of the grasses that may have been fixed due to low pH.
If you refuse to have your soil tested, as so many people feel that they cannot be bothered with, I recommend that you apply 60 to 80 pounds of agricultural grade dolomitic limestone or garden lime per 1,000 square feet. This may seem like a large amount, but lime is cheap and it takes a lot of lime to neutralize acid soils.
Try to apply the lime before a rain so that the lawn will not appear as if it had a dusting of snow. Do not apply hydrated lime, which would burn the grass and make the soil alkaline, and not favorable for the growth of lawn grasses.
Nearly all commercial lawn fertilizers acidify soils, which are already getting plenty of acidity from rains. Most of the rain we receive has a pH of 5 or below. Since 7 is neutral, rain have a pH 200 times more acid than distilled water.
Not all lime is the same. If your soil is a loamy sand or sandy loam, use dolomite limestone, which contains both calcium and magnesium. Use high-calcium limestone only if your soil has a sufficient amount of magnesium. Silt and clay soils retain magnesium better than sandy soils. Only a soil test can determine if you need both calcium and magnesium. Get your soil tested at www.al-labs-eastern.com and stop guessing.