Beautifully green, rolling lawns are more than just grass—they are a thing of pride! That said, a beautiful lawn takes a lot of work; grass needs food, cutting, watering, and aeration. It also needs the right soil pH. This is where liming your lawn comes into play. Lime for lawns helps adjust the soil pH to a state where the dirt is slightly acidic. Lawns love good earth, and when you get the pH right, the grass that makes up your lawn will thrive.
Charlotte homeowners know a lot about fertilization and aeration, however lime lawn treatment in Charlotte is a lesser well known. Yet, it’s just as important to the health of your landscape. When the soil pH is perfect, grasses utilize fertilizer much more efficiently, which means the grass grows fuller and richer.
What Does Lime Do for Lawns?
When it comes to soil pH, grass requires a range from 5.8-7.0. The ideal spot within that range depends on which type of grass you grow. Warm-weather grasses need a slightly lower pH while cool-weather grasses need a pH that’s slightly higher.
When soil pH is too low (or more acidic), the grass cannot take up soil nutrients such as nitrogen. When this occurs, grass stops growing and significant lawn troubles begin. Adding lime to soil raises the soil pH and keeps the correct pH-range for grasses to thrive. When the soil is at the optimal pH level, more nutrients like nitrogen from lawn fertilizer is available for the grass to utilize, allowing grass to grow fuller and thicker.
Lime Lawn Application
Like many things related to beautiful lawns, there is a process for lime lawn treatments. That process is essential to maintain the safety of people who use the lawn — kids, adults, and pets — and for those who apply the lime to the lawn. Here’s the overview of that process.
Test the soil pH – The homeowners or landscape professionals can measure soil pH using a soil pH tester. Homeowners can buy a test kit from a local garden center. You can also test Charlotte soil by requesting a pH kit from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, where you mail a sample of your soil to the county. The county will then provide you with a detailed soil report, which is much more precise and accurate than a store-bought pH kit. Testing the pH gives you the information needed to determine how much lime to add to the soil.
Prep the Lawn for its Lime Application – Aerate lawns before lime lawn application. Doing so allows the lime to enter the soil, especially in clay soils found throughout Charlotte. Because lime helps the grass roots work more efficiently, the lime must seep deep into the soil rather than land on the grass surface or thatch. The aeration process allows the lime to blend with the soil.
Apply Lime Lawn Treatment – Lime is applied to dry lawn; mixed into the top 5 inches of soil. Generally, the root zone for grasses is less than five inches deep. The best tools to use are either a drop or rotary spreader. Never apply lime to the lawn by hand. Lye within the lime can burn you if it touches your skin. You also want to use protective equipment such as a respiratory mask to keep the dust out of your lungs. For these reasons, many folks go with a landscaping professional that already has the lime and proper equipment to safely apply it to the lawn area.
Water the Lime In – The last step is to water the lawn. You want to immediately rinse any extra lime off the blades of grass since the lime can cause them to burn.
When Should I Lime My Lawn?
The best time for a lawn lime application in Charlotte is during the fall or winter. Most landscape professionals will test soil pH in spring and then apply lime in winter or fall. Lime can take several months to break down and change soil pH after being used. Since you add lime during the colder months, it can work into the soil and change the soil pH before the roots become active in spring.
If you add lime during the warmer months of the year, it can damage the lawn. You always want to add lime before the warmer spring weather. In fact, the fall and winter freeze-thaw cycles, as well as the winter wet season, help break down lime so it becomes part of the soil.
If your lawn is already stressed, do not add lime. It will further damage the grass. The same rule applies to a dormant lawn.
How Often Should I Lime My Lawn?
Once the lawn area is limed, you may need to repeat that process every 1-2 years. Sometimes a bit longer, but that decision always begins with a soil pH test.
Lime lawn treatments in Charlotte should always be a proactive measure, meaning you should only decide to lime your lawn once you know what your soil pH is. If you apply lime without checking the initial pH and raise it too high or too low, the lawn will suffer. The general rule of thumb is that 50lbs of lime will dress 1,000 sqft of a lawn. The soil pH will also give you a more precise indication of how much lime you need.
If your lawn needs lime, then follow these rules:
- Generally, only apply 50 lbs of lime or less during the initial application.
- If you need more than 50 lbs of lime to fully treat the soil, then apply the lime in two applications. The first occurs in early spring, and the second in the next fall or winter.
- After lime treatment is complete, repeat every few years if pH soil indicates you need it.
- Check the lawn soil pH every 1-2 years.
- Only add lime when the soil pH test indicates the pH is dropping.
What Are Some of the Signs That You Need to Lime Your Yard?
Aside from testing your soil pH, these are some other signs that you may need a lime lawn treatment for your Charlotte yard.
There Are Many Weeds – One of the most significant indicators of low soil pH is an abundance of weeds. A healthy lawn chokes out most weeds. If you notice that more weeds are growing in the lawn than in the past, test the lawn’s soil pH. Many weeds prefer acidic soil. The pH test will tell you if lime is needed.
Fertilizing Does Not Have an Impact – If the lawn does not green-up after fertilizing it, the soil pH might be too acidic. Lime raises the pH keeping it close to neutral, and that is the perfect range for most lawn grasses. If the soil pH is too acidic, the grassroots will not take up nutrients, and the lawn becomes dull and then browns.
Too Many Lawn Pests – Healthy lawns keep pests in check. When too many lawn pests begin bugging you or the lawn, it could be because the lawn is not thriving. Test the soil pH and then plan to add lime in the fall and winter if it is too acidic. The same applies if lawn diseases are a problem.
Drought and Stress – During a drought, most grasses slow production so that only the most essential part of the grass receives nutrients. You would not want to apply lime to a lawn under stress or during a drought. You do want to watch the soil pH, though. During the rainy season, when the lawn is recovering from the drought, you can apply lime if the soil indicates a change in soil pH is the answer.
Can I Apply Lime and Fertilizer at the Same Time?
Technically you can apply fertilizer and lime at the same time. However, it is best to first fertilize the lawn and then use the lime later. Let the lawn’s water system go through several rotations and then apply the lime. You can also fertilize and then wait for a good rain and lime the lawn after the rain.
If you choose to lime and fertilize simultaneously, be sure to use a granular lime product rather than a powder. Remember that if the soil pH is too acidic, the lawn will not be able to uptake fertilizer. Always let the soil pH test indicate your best course of action.
What Happens if You Use Too Much Lime on Your Lawn?
Lawn grass has a preferred range for soil pH. If you apply too much lime and the soil becomes alkaline, then the grasses will not be able to uplift nutrients, such as nitrogen, to the blades. Too much lime changes the soil pH and pushes it into an area where the grasses will not thrive. If you do not catch this mistake in time, the lawn will turn yellow, and the grasses can die. Essentially, the grasses are starving because their roots cannot take up nutrients.
Benefits of Working With a Professional Landscaper for Lime Lawn Treatment
Lawn care can be tricky, especially when dealing with chemistry and chemical balances in the soil. Lime can be dangerous to the touch and requires careful handling. That’s why a lot of Charlotte homeowners prefer to use a professional landscaping company to handle their lime lawn treatment.
There are different forms of lime, like time-release and fast-acting. A professional landscaping company will know which type to use based on your grass type. A landscaping professional will also know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of low soil pH, as well as how to apply a lime lawn treatment in Charlotte safely and at the right time of year. They should also have all of the tools and materials on hand to do it efficiently too.
If you are looking for a professional lawn care company to help maintain your lawn’s health or an experienced lawn company that can help return your lawn to its full glory, then give MetroGreenscape a call. We have over 20 years of experience working with Charlotte landscapes. We’ll build the right lawn maintenance plan for you that covers regular lawn maintenance, like mowing and fertilizing, as well as specialized lime lawn treatments. To get started, contact us today for a consultation.