If you have friends or neighbors who have applied lime to their lawn and swear by the results, you may be wondering “what does lime do for lawns?” Lime reduces the acidity of the soil in your yard, which makes your grass grow stronger, greener, and healthier. Lime also promotes healthy microorganisms in your soil, introduces much-needed soil nutrients, and boosts the effectiveness of any fertilizers and weed killers you apply.
6 Benefits of Lime on Your Lawn
Lime can seem like a miracle cure for ailing lawns due to all the benefits it provides. Here are the biggest positives of applying lime:
1. Greener Grass
Because lime balances soil pH, it allows grass to take in more nutrients from the soil. This results in greener, thicker grass with deeper roots. Your lawn looks better and becomes much more resistant to drought and heat.
2. Fewer Weeds
Many species of weeds thrive in acidic soil. By adding lime and reducing soil acidity, you make your lawn less friendly to weeds. Additionally, the boost in grass growth you’ll see after applying lime helps your grass thrive. As a result, your grass will choke out weeds and prevent new weeds from taking root.
3. Better Grass Seeding Results
Tired of seeding your lawn and only seeing a few sickly sprouts crop up as a result? By adding lime, you increase the nutrients available to grass seedlings. Wait 2–3 months after applying lime, to allow it to incorporate into the soil, then try seeding. You’ll yield far more grass seedlings per square foot of lawn after liming.
4. Healthier Soil
Lime adds calcium and magnesium to the soil, which are nutrients your lawn craves. Not only that, but the lower acidity and increased nutrients also promote strong microorganism populations in the soil, which maintain soil health and introduce additional nutrients your plants need.
5. Increased Thatch Decomposition
Thick thatch is the bane of a healthy lawn. It prevents water and nutrients from reaching the soil and inhibits grass seed growth. Too much thatch will throttle your yard. By adding lime to your lawn, you encourage natural processes that lead to thatch breakdown, further enhancing your yard’s appearance and health.
6. Better Results From Fertilizers and Herbicides
One of the telltale signs that a lawn needs lime is that fertilizers and herbicides seem to have no positive effect. Once you’ve added lime, your grass will be able to more efficiently draw nutrients from the soil. The next time you add fertilizer, your grass will really reap the benefits. Also, because you strengthen your grass and weaken weeds by adding lime, herbicides and weed killers are much more effective after liming.
When Should You Use Lime?
With so many lawn care options available, such as fertilizers, herbicides, aeration, and dethatching, how can you tell if your lawn needs lime? Nobody wants to waste time and energy liming a lawn that doesn’t need it. Here are some warning signs that indicate it’s time to lime your lawn.
- Your soil is too acidic. Perform a pH test on your lawn soil. Grass thrives in soils with a pH level between 5.8 and 7.0 (the lower the pH, the more acidic the soil is).
- Your grass is yellowed.
- Your lawn is infested with weeds.
- You have moss growing on your lawn.
- Your lawn is having trouble recovering from drought.
- Fertilizers and weed killers don’t seem to work.
What Lime Should You Use on Your Lawn?
The two types of lime you will commonly see advertised for sale are calcitic lime and dolomitic lime:
- Calcite Lime: contains high levels of calcium to help reduce soil acidity.
- Dolomite Lime: magnesium levels much higher than calcite lime, but like calcite lime, it will also reduce soil acidity.
You can use either dolomite or calcite lime to see the results you want in your lawn. In general, we recommend choosing the most cost-effective option, as both varieties will accomplish the goal of reducing soil acidity and adding essential nutrients to the soil.
Additionally, look to purchase pelletized limestone, as this is typically much easier to spread and introduce to the soil than pulverized limestone. Pulverized limestone is extremely dusty and is likely to blow away or clog spreaders. Pelletized limestone allows you to spread lime most effectively.
Can You Put Too Much Lime on Your Lawn?
Too much lime is a bad thing. Just as soil that is too acidic can inhibit plant growth, if the pH balance of the soil isn’t acidic enough, plants have a hard time taking up nutrients. Your lawn will struggle if you apply too much lime.
This is why it’s important to perform an accurate soil pH test, preferably through a University Extension, which will tell you how much lime you need to add to your soil. A proper soil test will ensure you don’t add too much lime.
If your soil needs 50 pounds of lime or less per 1,000 feet, you can apply it all at once. If it requires more than 50 pounds of lime per 1,000 feet, you will want to split this into two applications—one in spring and one in fall. Never apply more than 50 pounds of lime per 1,000 feet at once, as this can have a negative impact on grass health.
What’s so Great about Lime?
Lime is a natural soil additive that can encourage stronger grass growth and better color. It does this by reducing the acidity of the soil, allowing plants to take up more nutrients present in the soil. Not only this, but lime also adds calcium and magnesium to the soil, which are essential nutrients to lawn health.