Can You Put Too Much Lime on Your Lawn

Can You Put Too Much Lime on Your Lawn?

Beautiful, healthy, green lawns are often achieved with the use of lime treatments. Lime can assist in the growth and health of your grass. There are numerous benefits to lime treatments for your lawn including balancing the ph level, adding micro nutrients to the soil, and encouraging thatch decomposition. With all the benefits of lime treatments, there is one question that is often asked. Can you put too much lime on your lawn?

In this article I’ll talk about how lime works when applied to lawns, and tell you the risks of applying too much lime.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S.

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How Lime Treatments Work

Before we address the question of whether or not you can put too much lime on your lawn, let’s quickly review how lime treatments on grass work.

The nutrients a lawn needs for healthy growth comes from balanced ph levels of the soil. Low ph levels in soil can limit access to nutrients for your grass.

Lime corrects an imbalance of acidity in the soil which leads to optimum ph levels and flourishing growth.

Lime treatments are soil amendments that are composed of ground limestone rock which contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.

Limestone Quarry
A truck in a limestone quarry

When added to the soil, lime alters the ph levels (it makes your soil “sweeter” for plants) and improves the ability of your grass to access nutrients in your soil.

Signs a Lime Treatment May Be Needed

I have an in-depth article on how to tell if your lawn needs lime (which you will probably enjoy).

But to quickly review some key points from that article … your lawn may need lime if you have some or all of the following:

  • A soil test that detects a ph level lower than between 6.2 – 7.0
  •  The presence of pests, weeds, and disease
  • The grass may be growing slowly or sparse, even after the application of fertilizer
  • Grass coloring may be yellow instead of green
  • The type of soil can be an indicator. For example, clay soil and sandy soil both tend to need lime treatments due to their acidity. 
  • You live in an area with heavy rainfalls, especially acid rain 
  • Grass that has lost color and strength 
  • Grass that is exposed to high heat and drought

Is Too Much of a Good Thing Bad?

Now, let’s answer the question at hand:

Can you put too much lime on your lawn?

The answer is yes. Too much lime can impact the grass’s access to vital nutrients. Lime applications increase the soil pH level and promote healthy growing conditions for grass. Although there are numerous benefits to lime, too much lime can promote high soil alkalinity.

The most common effect of too much lime on a lawn is iron deficiency.

Too Much Lime on Lawn
If your grass starts to yellow, you may have applied too much lime.

Iron deficiency causes lawns to look yellow and unhealthy with yellow, bleach spots on the leaf blades.

This can often be corrected by applying Milorganite or Ironite, or a similar Iron supplement.

Applying too much lime to your lawn can also lead to an excess of calcium in the soil. Excess calcium in the soil blocks the soil’s ability to absorb magnesium and potassium. 

How Can I Fix Too Much Lime in my Soil?

So, I realize that you may have arrived at this article after applying lime to your lawn with a heavy hand.

This happens to almost everyone, so don’t beat yourself up about it.

If that’s why you’re here, you’re probably wondering what to do to correct the problems you’re seeing in your grass.

I’ve got you covered.

Here’s what to do if you applied too much lime:

What to Do if You Applied Too Much Lime to Your Lawn
  • First, conduct a ph test to confirm the ph level is too high. This will help you rule out other potential problems so your next steps are sure to work. I use this soil test kit from Amazon annually to see what my lawn needs (and doesn’t need). There are cheap pH meters you can buy locally, but if you’re seeing lawn problems, this will tell you exactly where you are, and provide a roadmap to get back on track.
  • Once you’ve established there is too much lime in the soil you have several options to correct the problem.
    • The first option is to wait a month or two and mulch organic matter with your mower to amend the soil and water the lawn with the hope that the lawn improves.
    • The second option is to add horticultural sulfur to the lawn to lower the ph. If you want an immediate correction, you’ll probably choose this route, but be careful not to add too much sulfur to your lawn. Too much sulfur can make the soil too acidic, and you’ll have to amend again. Adding sulfur to the soil to correct the ph levels does take time. There will be a significant amount of time that passes before you see a significant drop in the ph level, so be patient.
    • The third option (and what I recommend) is to top-dress your lawn with a thin (1/4″) layer of screened, finished compost. This will help to feed your lawn and improve the pH balance of your soil naturally. And it’s great for your turf. If your pH is WAY off, consider mixing in a little sulfur with this so that your lawn’s pH is corrected (but not overcorrected quickly).

If you do choose to apply sulfur to your lawn, I recommend the Espoma brand (Amazon link). It’s all natural, and it’s what I use on my blueberry bushes to make the soil more acidic. Works great.

Best Overall Lawn Soil Test Kit

The Soil Test Kit I Use & Recommend

There are many options for testing your lawn’s soil, but I prefer a lab-based soil test that provides a detailed analysis of your soil’s nutrients and what’s needed for your lawn to thrive.

I use this one from MySoil every year.

How Much Lime Should I Add to My Lawn?

Ideally, to grow grass you want to aim for a ph level between 6.5 and 7.

The type of soil you have and the soil’s current ph level must be taken into consideration when calculating how much lime to add to your lawn.

Heavier soils will require more lime for ph level modification.

Gardening calculators are an effective tool for determining the amount of lime your lawn needs, and I always recommend a soil test before applying anything to your lawn.

It will save you money and ensure you get the best results when working to improve your lawn.

Expert Perspective

The Lawn Chick editorial team regularly interviews industry experts to bring our readers the latest science and expert recommendations to complement our own hands-on lawn care experience. 

We Asked: How does soil pH impact a lawn’s ability to utilize the fertilizer you apply and the nutrients available in your yard’s soil?

Teri Answered:  “Soil pH is a crucial indicator of soil acidity, and tells us if your yard has the ideal pH for the plants (like grass) you’re growing. It also impacts how well grass utilizes applied fertilizer and absorbs soil nutrients. The sweet spot for lawn pH is between 6.5 and 7.0, but most lawns are adaptable, typically ranging from pH 4.0 to 9.0.”

“If your lawn is thriving but the pH isn’t in the ideal range, there’s no need to adjust it. It’s typically difficult to adjust pH levels, but if pH is too high,  you can try adding organic matter like compost, and if it’s too low, applying lime can help.”

Teri Valenzuela, Natural Science Manager at Sunday

Teri Valenzuela

Natural Science Manager at Sunday

At Sunday, Teri leverages data analysis, lawn and garden industry trends, and customer needs to create impactful content. With a combination of her conservation background and expertise in science communication and content strategy, Teri works to advance sustainable yard care practices on behalf of Sunday.

When is the Best Time to Lime My Lawn?

You can apply lime to your lawn at any time of the year. However, the best times to lime lawns are generally fall and spring.

Apply Lime in Fall
I recommend applying lime to your lawn in the fall for best results

Fall has the advantage of allowing your yard time over the winter to absorb the lime, and correct a heavy application if needed.

You never want to lime a wet, soggy lawn or a dry, wilted lawn, so applying lime in the early fall when your grass is growing well is what I recommend. 

How Do I Apply Lime to My Yard?

There are multiple types of lime you can apply. Lime generally comes in the following three forms: powder lime, granular lime, and liquid lime. 

  • Granular lime comes in pellets that are able to be easily spread with a broadcast or drop spreader
  • Powdered lime is too fine for most fertilizer spreaders, and generally has to be spread by hand. 
  • Liquid lime is applied with a sprayer but it can be difficult to judge the amount of lime applied.

Depending on your soil type and climate, you can determine the right type of lime for your lawn.

After you have applied the lime you will want to be sure to water the lawn. Watering the lawn helps the lime get into contact with your soil and aids in the absorption. 

Just don’t water too much – you’ll want to avoid run-off.

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Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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