How do I Choose the Best Lime Fertilizer?

Ron Marr

Many people take great pride in having a lush, lovingly manicured lawn. Contrary to popular belief, these gorgeous stretches of emerald green don’t just grow by themselves. Adding lime to a lawn is often essential to maintaining proper acidity, commonly known as pH content, in the underlying soil. The type and amount of lime fertilizer needed by your lawn is largely dependent upon the health and structure of the soil.

Lime fertilizer can be used to adjust the pH content of soil.
Lime fertilizer can be used to adjust the pH content of soil.

The introduction of lime to a lawn raises the soil’s pH content. Lawns are not self-sustaining, and essential nutrients often disappear from soil due to rainfall, excessive irrigation, or the use of certain fertilizers heavy in nitrogen. Decomposing material on the lawn, such as dead leaves, can also lower a soil’s pH count. These conditions can combine to inhibit or prohibit the growth of grass. Lime must be introduced to return the soil’s pH to a healthy level.

Not all lime fertilizers are created equal. Burned lime and hydrated lime quickly raise the pH count of the soil, but application is hazardous. The person applying the lime should wear protective clothing and proper respiratory filters. Pelletized limestone is simple and safe to apply, and increases pH count very fast. It is also one of the most expensive forms of lime fertilizer.

Dolomitic limestone and ground limestone work slowly in raising soil pH count, but no health hazards are involved in their application. These two lime fertilizers also contain magnesium, which is generally beneficial for soil health. Homeowners should realize that the addition of lime fertilizer to a lawn is not always necessary. Many people mistakenly apply it every year, not realizing that unneeded lime can cause soil to turn alkaline.

The only way to determine if a lawn requires an application of lime is to perform a soil test. Almost all farm or garden stores carry test kits, and generally speaking, a reading of a pH below indicates a need for lime. The objective with lime-fertilizer application is to reach a figure with a pH of somewhere between 6.0 and 7.0.

Lime fertilizer may be applied in any season, but it is less than optimally effective if spread when frost is on the ground. The amount of lime needed for any given lawn varies by geographic area, climate, topography, and use. Agricultural extension services and garden centers often provide free advice on the amount of lime fertilizer that should be applied. Simply provide these experts with the results of your soil test and the dimensions of your lawn.

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