University of Maryland Extension

Liming - Lawns

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Liming is an important step in maintaining a healthy lawn.

  • The optimum pH for turf growth is 6.0 to 6.8. If the pH level falls below 5.5, turf growth will be compromised.
  • Soils in Maryland have a tendency to become acidic over time and a soil test should be performed every three to four years to check the pH. Soil test results will provide a liming recommendation. If more than 50 lbs. of limestone per 1,000 sq. ft. is recommended, the amount should be split into two applications. For example, if 85 lbs. is needed, apply 50 lbs. immediately then wait six months to apply the remaining 35 lbs.
  • Limestone should be applied with a lawn spreader. To attain uniform coverage, apply half of the lime in an east-west direction and the remainder in a north-south direction.
  • Lime can be applied anytime, but the ideal time is in the fall. The freezing and thawing of the soil over the winter will help to incorporate the lime into the ground. It is not recommended to apply lime on snow or frost-covered turf. 
  • Incorporate the recommended amount of lime (according to soil test results) into the soil before starting a new lawn or major renovation. 
  • Agricultural lime or calcitic lime is the recommended form of limestone for homeowner use. Pelletized lime is very similar and is easier to spread because it limits the amount of “dust” created when spreading Ag lime. Dolomitic lime is recommended for soils that are also low in magnesium. Burnt or hydrated limestone is caustic and not recommended for homeowner use. (See page 5 of (PDF) HG 42 - Soil Amendments and Fertilizers).

Related publication: (PDF) HG 100 - Moss Control in Home Lawns

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