Lime - Knowledgebase Question

Glenn Dale, MD (Zone 6B)
Question by tstaton
May 9, 2006
I am curious to know if I need to put lime down in my yard. I have been living here for 8 years now and I've never put lime down. I don't know the ph of my lawn. I have had a lawn company come out and fertilize. Do I need to put lime down myself?


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Answer from NGA
May 9, 2006

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To determine whether or not you need to add lime, you need to have a soil test done so you'll know what the pH of your soil is. The pH scale runs from 0 - 14, with 7 being considered neutral. Numbers below 7 are acidic; numbers above alkaline. In much of the country, most plants grow in a range of 6.0 to 7.5. In addition, plants will generally tolerate some fluctuation in pH over time, with the "neutral" being a goal rather than an absolute. pH levels can be adjusted somewhat on a temporary and localized basis, but it's not a one-time fix, and it's harder to do for large areas. If you determine that your soil is acidic, ground limestone will help raise the pH somewhat. It is a good form of soil amendment to use because it is available to the plants over a long period of time, slowly dissolving over a period of years. Limestone does take a while to work - most often, we recommend that people apply lime in the fall so it'll have acheived its work by the following spring.

If you spread ground limestone in the fall on freshly worked soil it will work its way through the soil over the winter in time for spring. Be sure to spread it evenly as it does not spread but rather sinks into the soil. You shouldn't need to apply it more than once a year. As a quick fix in mid season, you might consider using a dusting of wood ashes, but you will find that the wood ashes leach out very quickly and need to be repeated in much smaller and more frequent doses.

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