The application of lime and fertilizer to your lawn at the same time is not advisable. Each of the two is applied for a critical reason.
Lime goes to reduce soil acidity, while fertilizers help you bridge the gap between what your lawn grass requires and also misses from among the nutrients in your soil. More so, when lime lowers the acidity levels, plant roots are best able to absorb the nutrients from the ground.
So, the position is, either must go first. This post will help you make critical decisions – regarding when to apply fertilizers first and lime later or the reverse.
Tip: Soil PH level should guide you on what to apply first
Table of Contents
When Is It Best to Apply Lime First?
The main objective of the lime application is the reduction of soil acidity. Consequently, optimal soil PH optimizes the level of plant uptakes of nitrogen.
Adversely acidic soils hamper the nitrogen uptakes, and you can notice the yellowing of leaves where they should exhibit a cool dark greenness.
Applying both lime and fertilizers at the same time is a waste of resources.
Fertilizers release nitrogen into the soil, which, if unabsorbed for long, leeches away from the soil strata where roots can access them. Leeching leaves behind hydrogen ions. It’s the hydrogen ions that raise the level of acidity in the soil.
The long-term effects of fertilizers in the soil are the altering of the PH balances.
It’s vital to carry out soil tests to ascertain the PH levels, and that should be beside the test for nutrients available in it.
If the soil tests give out acidic results – apply lime first. The lime will bring back the soil to a state of neutral PH levels – which is best for plant roots to draw nutrients you provide in the fertilizers.
Pro Tip: when you apply lime first, please note that de-acidification is not instant. It takes time. There are vital factors that affect the rate it takes to rectify the soil acidity. The factors are:
- What size are the limestone particles you are using?
- Prior conditions of the soil
- How effectively is the lime spread and mixed up within the soil?
The finer the limestone particles, the better for your rate of de-acidification. You may also stick to liming with pellets made up to release lime faster.
Ideally, treat highly acidic soils with 100 pounds per 1000 square feet of lawn.
Again, if your lime application is to keep a balance of the PH levels, 50 pounds per square foot are adequate.
Lime application is best made when getting the lawn ready for your seeds. Ideally, your target is to ensure the right mix between it and both layers- top and sub-soil.
It’s best to apply lime to your lawn in fall – it allows adequate time and optimal temperatures for the lime reactions with the acidic soil to take effect. Summers and winters are extreme in the temperatures, which either way hamper the lime application’s intended result.
If you want quicker lime effects, mix six inches of topsoil with the lime aggressively. If you do this correctly, the PH balance should be attained within 50 days. And this guides us as to why the lime application is best done way before you plant your seeds.
Lime application is best made with a commercial applicator/ spreader for the best distribution.
When Is It Best to Apply Fertilizers First?
The application of fertilizers is ideal before that of lime. Lime takes slower effects and would deny your seeds the nutrients from the fertilizers.
Generally, the effects of fertilizers are fast when compared to those of lime. The plan between fertilizer and lime application should not deny germinating seedlings the nutrients from fertilizers. Ideally, at whatever timeline, it’s best to test and ensure that the seedlings you plant will have adequate access to their nutritional requirements.
If you plan to apply lime after planting, allow for a lead period of 7 to 10 days for the young plants to take up most of the nutrition from the planting stage’s fertilizers. Lime will boost the availability of nutrients for the plants through the already established rooting system.
Right Situations to Both Apply Lime and Fertilizer all at the Same Time
In case the lawn has an adequately neutral PH level, you can apply both lime and fertilizers in one go.
It will help you save on time, labor, and resources.
Applying both once will help in the long run, where soil PH is adjusted to help boost the soil nutrition and, by extension, its availability to the crop root systems.
And the effects of lime should not be expected instantly. It takes time. Concurrently, lime’s impact will not hinder the availability of soil nutrients for plants if the PH is not adversely acidic.
It’s also a pivotal point to ensure that you apply adequate amounts of fertilizers and lime. The best tip is, do not mix both and apply to the lawn. First, use the fertilizers then follow along with lime as the last.
Again, if your lawn has a neutral PH balance, apply the lime for once every 24 months. Observe caution with the amounts of lime you use. Excess amounts of lime lead to a condition known as iron chlorosis.
Iron chlorosis arises due to excess liming of the soil and results in the yellowing or death of grass on the lawns. On the other end, if you do too much fertilizer, you end up with chemical burns on the grass. Other detrimental effects are the built-up of thatch and pests.
The Compounds in Lime
Lime, in its natural form, appears among sedimentary rocks. A considerable portion of limestone composes calcium or magnesium carbonates, resulting from the accumulation of bone fossils or extracts from reactions within rock strata.
Both components – magnesium and calcium hydroxides have alkaline nature. And that explains the reason why their application into acidic soils reverses the hyper-acidity in soils.
Soil PH is a relative variable. Under some circumstances, you may require to alter PH from hyper-alkaline to more acidic. Under such a need, several products can help you with that, and those comprise:
- Elemental sulfur
- Aluminum sulfate
- Acidifying nitrogen
- Sphagnum peat
- Iron sulfate
- Organic mulches
The Natural Way to Lower Soil PH
One of the most natural ways to lower the PH of acidic soils is to incorporate compost manure. Compost gives excellent results for either lawns and crop fields.
Compost has many beneficial effects, including the soil’s aeration and nutrition within the region around the roots. From the look of things, compost appears to be the stone that hits two birds with one stone – helps improve PH and upscale nutrient availability for plants.
Soil PH is equally essential as soil fertility.
Your efforts to put in fertilizer applications are optimized by adequate PH levels to help plant uptake of the nutrients. The surest way to get soil PH is by taking samples and testing them in a lab.
By observation, you may note the yellowing of leaves from a deficiency in nitrogen, which indicates high acidity. The yellowing of plant leaves is very clear in water-logged soils.
Lime application takes time to reduce soil acidity, and you should factor in the long period it takes to level the soil PH. There are also instances where you may need to reduce soil alkalinity. Finally, other activities like compost application are equally and exceedingly beneficial to soil PH and nutrition.
Lawn grass requires proper PH for you to obtain the best results, and knowing the instances where fertilizers or lime should go first is an excellent step towards best soil PH.