For our yards, fall is a time for fertilization, aeration, and also a great time to test your soil before winter sets in. As advised in Gardeningknowhow.com, “Working lime into the soil in the fall gives it several months to dissolve before spring planting.” Testing your soil will tell you the ph levels of the soil in your yard and let you know if adding nitrogen or lime will benefit your yard.
When Should You Add Lime to Your Yard?
Adding ground limestone - or lime - is a common practice for less than favorable yards. Lawns that have a low ph levels benefit from the addition of lime.
A neutral is ph level is around 6.5 to 7, depending on where you live. In warmer areas, lawns tend to like a more acidic levels. Adding lime to your yard can be a yearly event - and it is relatively simple to do. Just add the lime to a hopper - which you can find at many home improvement stores - and spread it across the yard.
It generally takes 20 to 50 pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet to get an acidic lawn back on track. Afterward, it’s a good idea to get a new ph test about every 2 years.
Treating Discolored, Thin, or Bare Growth Spots
The hardest part of treating discolored spots can be diagnosing the cause. Some dead or brown grass spots can be a symptom of one of the following:
- Pet Stains
- Dull Mower Blades
- Heat Damage
- Drought Stress
- Soil Compaction
Determining your issue is the main focus in treating your specific issue. Lime can assist in solving pet stains and can help your lawn recover from soil compaction – along with aeration treatment. If your lawn is overly dry or is not being properly maintained, you may need to alter your watering and trimming routine.
Eliminating Pet Spots
One of the most common complaints from homeowners about their yard are pet stains - either from your own pet, or from other “visitors” in the neighborhood. Yellow or Brown Spots from pet stains are very high in acidity and prevent grass from absorbing nutrients from the ground. Lime will help you cleanse your soil and restore a deep color to your grass.
Tree Species: Myths and Facts
There is a commonly accepted idea that large trees - especially pine trees - can cause discoloration in your yard. As landscape designer and contractor John Watkins states, “It is a common myth that grass will not grow around pine trees because the accumulated needles make the soil so acidic nothing will grow.” Watkins goes on to say, “Needle drop from pine trees can produce a thick mat that forms a physical barrier, either retarding grass growth or killing it entirely.”
Basically what John is saying is it’s not the acidity of the tree, it’s the accumulation of needles that prevents grass growth.
This idea carries over to other trees, as well. Certain species of trees may have a dense canopy that will block out sunlight and drop needles, acorns, or other natural barriers onto your lawn. Dead or dying grass in these cases result in a bad pairing of grass and tree species or an incorrect amount of standard maintenance.
Instead of adding lime or other fertilizers to your soil, be sure that you have the correct seed type for your space. Your lawn may also need more sunlight, air, and/or water to reach its full potential.
What About Moss or Mushrooms?
Excessive moss growth or the presence of mushrooms comes from having an overly alkaline soil, or lawns that are overly shady, too wet, or compacted.
To get rid of moss and mushrooms, you’ll want to skip the lime and instead reseed the area with shade-friendly grass seed, aerate the soil, and fertilize for nitrogen deficiency. It may also help to thin the trees to reduce shade, water less, and cut your grass higher to encourage stronger roots. If a stump or dead roots are present, remove them and keep the area well-drained.
While adding Lime to your lawn can even out PH levels and balance acidity, lime can be harmful as well. As it says in the Think Green Blog, “Just as soil that’s too acidic will inhibit your lawn’s ability to absorb nutrients, one that’s too alkaline will prevent your grass from getting enough nitrogen, potassium and iron.”
Sometimes the most important step you can take to creating a healthy lawn is to contact the experts at Ehlinger Lawn Care.
For more information on Fall Lawn care prep, visit a few of our past blogs: