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  • Writer's pictureBella Terra

Why Your Fertilizer Fails: Apply Lime to Fix Acidity and Help Your Lawn's Nutrient Absorption

What is Dolomite Lime?

Dolomite lime is a soil amendment made from crushed limestone, rich in calcium and magnesium, which helps neutralize soil acidity. Its application can transform struggling gardens into vibrant landscapes by improving nutrient availability and soil health. Water helps move lime through soil primarily through the process of leaching. When lime is applied to the soil, it dissolves in water and forms calcium ions (Ca2+) and hydroxide ions (OH-) which can then move with the water as it percolates through the soil profile. As the water containing these ions moves downward, it can neutralize acidity in the soil and raise the pH levels. The movement of lime through soil via water is essential for distributing the lime evenly and effectively throughout the root zone of plants. Increasing your soil PH by one digit, means you are actually increasing it 10 fold!  -  It's extreme, just like an earthquake of magnitude of  5 may not be felt, but a magnitude of 6 leaves no doubt about what it is.  

Dolomite Lime Pellets

Detecting Soil Acidity:

You might suspect soil acidity if your lawn shows signs of distress like yellowing leaves or sparse growth. To confirm, perform a soil pH test. This can be done with a simple at-home test using household items like vinegar and baking soda, or for more accuracy, by using a testing kit from a local garden center or sending a sample to a laboratory for professional soil analysis-where a sample of the soil is analyzed at a lab. Their report will include exact results of nutrition and acidity and even metals in your soil, as well as recommended amendments for improvement.

Soil Sample

What to watch for:

1. Yellowing of grass: Acidic soil can cause nutrient deficiencies in grass, leading to yellowing or chlorosis of the leaves.

2. Moss growth: Moss tends to thrive in acidic soil conditions, so an abundance of moss in your lawn can indicate soil acidity.

3. Stunted growth: Acidic soil can inhibit the uptake of essential nutrients by plants, resulting in stunted growth and poor overall health.

4. Weeds thriving: Certain weeds, such as sorrel and plantain weed, prefer acidic soil and may proliferate in lawns with low pH levels.

5. Soil compaction: Acidic soil can lead to soil compaction, making it difficult for grass roots to penetrate and access nutrients, water, and oxygen.

Not all vegetation is equal:

So, while weeds may flourish in your soil's natural conditions, it is important to recognize that the ability to support weed growth or moss does not necessarily translate to the ability to cultivate a healthy and vibrant lawn. Lawns, unlike weeds, are considered a cultivated "crop" that requires specific soil conditions to thrive. In order to promote optimal growth and nutrient absorption in the lawn, it is essential to organically adjust the pH levels of the soil to create a more conducive environment for grass growth.

Moss and Weed Lawn

Why Soil pH Matters:

Soil pH, a measure of acidity (Low pH below 7) or alkalinity (High pH above 7), directly influences your lawn's health. Ideal pH levels (between 6.5 and 7) allow grass to absorb nutrients effectively. When soil becomes too acidic (pH below 6.5), it can lead to poor growth, nutrient deficiencies, and a lackluster appearance. This is why adding fertilizer doesn't always do the trick. Your soil might already have all the nutrients it needs, but just a little correction on the acidity lets the grass actually feed on what's already in the ground.

How Much Lime to Apply:

The amount of dolomite lime needed depends on your soil's current pH and the size of your lawn. Generally, it's advised not to apply more than 50 lbs of lime per 1,000 square feet in a single application and waiting for it to absorb in between if needing more than one application. A soil test report often includes recommendations on lime amounts.

Fertilizer spreader

Application Method and Timing:

Do not apply additional application unless previously applied lime is no longer visible on the surface of your lawn. Even distribution is key, so using a spreader ensures that the lime is spread evenly across all of the lawn. While Fall is the ideal time of year to apply lime, applications completed during the fall or early spring work well, as it allows the lime sufficient time to react with the soil before the growing seasons start. Avoid applying lime to frozen ground or overly wet lawns.

Frequency of Lime Applications:

For severely acidic soils (pH around 4), multiple lime applications may be necessary, potentially up to 4-6 times in a year to get the initial pH back in line. After the pH is back to normal you may only want one treatment per year. It's crucial to retest the soil's pH between applications to avoid over-liming, as excessive lime can lead to soil alkalinity, creating a new set of problems.

Beautiful treated lawn

Conclusion A balanced soil pH is crucial for a healthy, vibrant lawn. By understanding and adjusting your soil's acidity with dolomite lime, you're laying the groundwork for a lush, green outdoor space. Regular soil testing, correct lime application, and patience are key to achieving the lawn of your dreams.


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