Last week, we reviewed the important benefits of lime, today we’re covering the basics of applying lime.
Often, not nearly enough lime is put down to either help or hurt the soil. Before applying product, it is critical to soil test with a reputable laboratory. Test for pH, buffer pH, calcium, and magnesium to determine how much and what kind of lime to use. Buffer pH provides an indication of the soil’s resistance to change or how much lime will be necessary to cause a change in the soil’s pH. The decision on which lime to use is determined by the Calcium to Magnesium ratio. The ideal Ca:Mg range is 7:1 – 15:1. Without realizing it, you may be raising the pH while creating an imbalance in the calcium to magnesium ratio. This creates other problems, such as compaction and greater weed pressure.
Due to the high labor costs associated with putting down large amounts of conventional lime products, we recommend a line of high efficiency lime products. Typically, these products require only 1/5th the amount of their conventional counterparts. While the product costs are higher, it is more than offset by lower associated labor costs for the application.
A final word of caution when adjusting soil pH: be sensitive to other plants sharing the same space and their soil chemistry requirements. Plants like oak and pine trees like a lower pH. Don’t sacrifice the gorgeous old oak tree in an effort to grow grass under it!