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Lime Time?

November 7, 2011

If your grass seems to not be getting much better after a feeding or two, a soil test can help you determine if your lawn could use some remedial action beyond the regular nutrition of four or five feedings a year.

The main information you need to know is soil pH. A soil test will give you other values for available phosphorus, potassium, micronutrients or organic matter. As a former County Extension Agent, who looked at hundreds of soil test results for home lawns, I know that the primary actionable number to look for is soil pH. Many times the other readings do not change the recommendations for feeding your lawn. Soil pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline your soil is. A pH of 7 is neutral, acidic soil registers below 7, and alkaline soil above 7. Your lawn can tolerate a fairly wide pH range of 5.5 to 7.5, with 6.5 being the ideal pH for growing grass.

Some states offer soil testing through their Extension Service. Check for soil testing labs in your state by visiting:

Fall is a great time to spread lime or sulfur since the upcoming alternating freezing and thawing of your soil can help to transport these materials from the soil surface down to lower parts of the soil. Most soils do not have a pH high enough to require a sulfur application for lawns. In some lawns, in some areas of the country, mostly in the east, lime is required to raise your soil pH to make your soil less acid. If your soil pH is below 5.5, it is not uncommon to need multiple applications of 50 pounds of lime per 1,000 sq. ft. per year over several years. To spread this much lime, you may find you will need to go over your lawn several times with the spreader set at the highest number.

If you have questions, click this link to contact the Scotts Help Center.

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