How to Use Garden Lime (and Why You Need It In the Fall)

What Is Garden Lime?

There are different types of lime, and not all are meant for landscaping purposes. Lime intended for garden use is labeled as "garden lime" or "dolomitic lime." Made from ground-up rock, limestone, or dolomite, lime is high in calcium. Dolomitic lime differs from garden lime in that it contains magnesium, in addition to calcium. Lime makes soils less acidic, raising the pH level.

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There are TOTAL_RESULTS results that will appear for How To Use Garden Lime searching, so as to choose the best ones, you should prioritize the top of the result list, take it as your focus. But if you have your big concerns on How To Use Garden Lime, you need to refer to all the results to give the best decision.

Rainfall

If you live on the East Coast like I do, there’s enough rainfall to cause alkaline nutrients to leach out of the dirt, thereby increasing its acidity. As you travel west, dirt tends to be more alkaline.

One thought to Using Lime in the Garden Against Snails and Slugs

  1. Taylor Hansen says:

    November 2, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    It’s interesting that lime can help adjust the pH levels as well as accelerate the composting process. I’m wanting to adjust the pH levels and change the acidity in my soil. Looks like I should research the best minerals for this change in my soil.

    Reply

List of Garden Plants That Do Not Need Lime

Contrary to popular belief, not all plants like lime while they grow. in the previous section, we went over what plants need lime. But did you know there are plants that do not like lime?

These garden plants do not like lime and would be destroyed if lime was added to them. Here is our list of which garden plants not to lime:

In terms of vegetables, the following plants will not prefer lime:

  • Potato crops; such as potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Capsicums

Many fruits also do not require lime, these include:

  • Berries; such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
  • Grapes

The following flowers don’t grow in alkaline soils that may require lime:

  • Magnolia
  • Azalea
  • Japanese maples
  • Daphne
  • Rhododendrons

It is important to note that this is not the entire list and there are several other garden plants apart from these that may not benefit from lime.

Field of vegetables
Field of vegetables

Advantages of Lime

One benefit is the mineralizing effect of calcium carbonate/garden lime.

Lime also allows you to adjust pH levels.

Additionally, if you use lime in your garden, the composting processes in the soil accelerate.

In the case of nitrolime, effectiveness against snails and slugs has been shown.

What Type of Lime Should You Add to Your Garden Plants?

There are many different types of lime that you can add to your garden plants. However, the two best types of lime that you can use are powdered lime and palletized lime.

  • Powdered lime comprises fine granules of lime and thus, can be easily spread on the soil with the help of a spreader.
  • Palletized lime is a type of lime that includes evenly sized pallets of lime that can be spread onto the soil and activated by water.

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Why Soil Testing is Necessary

In some instances, it would help to alter your soil’s pH when cultivating plants with big leaves like hydrangeas which change in color based on their pH levels.

Organic garden lime testing
Organic garden lime testing

Liming improves soils with pH levels below 5.5 by increasing the pH levels and consequently improving mineral absorption for most plants.

However, if the soil’s pH is 6.5 or above, liming is not recommended because it increases its alkalinity, making it hard for plants to absorb or retain essential nutrients.

Higher soil pH stunts plant growth-inhibiting fruit formation or producing yellow leaves. Therefore, you should assess your garden’s soil pH for maximum benefits from liming.

You can test the soil pH using a pH meter, although you can get full soil analysis from an Extension Office to get essential recommendations:

  • Ensure you follow the recommended guidelines when liming your garden soil and the correct nutrients to add for optimum plant growth and harvest.
  • The amount of lime to add to your soil depends on the test results and recommendations.
  • Acidic and magnesium deficient soils require dolomitic lime, while garden lime is applicable if the magnesium levels are within the recommended ranges.

Additionally, you can estimate or measure your garden size to establish the quantity of lime to purchase.

Manufacturers often use recommended lime quantity per a thousand square feet.

Thus, establishing the garden will ensure you purchase the exact amount your need and save you some money.

Here’s The Important Part

The main point I want to make is that even if minerals are leaching from your soil, it doesn’t make sense to blindly go back adding just two of them (the calcium and magnesium in dolomitic lime) without knowing you need them. You might already have too much of one of them.

Your soil needs a calcium to magnesium ratio of somewhere between 7:1 (sandier soils) and 10:1 (clayier soils).

Some soil consultants might use different numbers but everyone knows you need way more calcium than magnesium.

Outside of these ranges, your soil will often have compaction problems, your plants will often have health issues and insect and disease problems, and you will have weed problems.

One of your most important goals in the garden is to add mineral fertilizers to move the calcium to magnesium ratio towards the correct range, based on a soil test.

The problem with dolomite lime? It has a calcium to magnesium ratio of 2:1. That’s way too much magnesium for most soils. Magnesium is certainly an essential mineral. Too much of it, however, causes many problems.

So if you add dolomitic lime to your lawn/garden every year, chances are you’re just causing more compaction and weed problems.

3 Reasons to Add Lime to Your Soil

The addition of lime to your soil can be the difference between a low yield and a flourishing garden. Here are three benefits to incorporating lime into your lawn care routine:

  1. To add nutrients: A low soil pH can inhibit plants from absorbing the available nutrients in the soil, but lime raises the pH level and promotes the spread of good bacteria in the soil by adding nutrients like phosphorus and zinc to it. Keep in mind that if your soil pH is already above 6.5, you will likely want to avoid adding lime since too high of a pH can cause nutrient deficiency symptoms like stunted growth. A high soil pH can also cause chlorosis, which appears as a yellow discoloration on a plant’s leaves.
  2. To improve water penetration: When the soil is on the acidic side, adding lime can improve water penetration of the soil. By raising the alkalinity of the soil, water can more easily rehydrate the soil, thereby rehydrating your plants and preventing them from drying out.
  3. To make your soil more alkaline: Most vegetables prefer to grow in alkaline soil and adding lime to your soil will increase the alkalinity of the soil. A pH level of 7, which is neutral, works well for most vegetables and flowers, so you might consider increasing the pH level of soil that lands at or below 6.5 when you test it. However, there are some acid-loving plants and vegetables, like potatoes and parsley, so be sure to do some research before deciding to lime your soil.

Test your soil to determine whether it needs garden lime

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Gardening experts agree that the best way to know what the soil needs is to test it. Submit a soil sample to your Cooperative Extension Service lab to learn how you can improve your garden’s soil and whether lime might help. Or choose an over-the-counter soil pH test kit to learn if your soil is too acidic and you need lime for the garden.

A lab test will provide the most accurate and comprehensive results and guidance for long-term soil improvement. An over-the-counter kit like this one available at Amazon—selected “best overall” in our researched guide to the best soil test kits—is good for those with a short timeline, and for regular monitoring between annual or biennial lab tests.

For most lawn grasses and vegetable gardens, a pH reading between 6.0 and 7.0 is good. If the test results come back below 6, an application of lime can help raise the pH (reduce the acidity) to the ideal range. Exactly how much lime you need to apply to gain the desired results depends on the type of lime and the soil makeup. As with any soil amendments, follow the soil test results and recommendations carefully.

How Much Lime to Use

How much lime to use will depend on your soil type and how far you have to raise your pH by. The chart below will give you a rough guide for how much ground limestone to use. For hydrated lime you only need between half and three quarters the amount.

Do be careful, too much lime can raise your pH too far and an alkaline soil is as bad as an acid soil for yield.

When to Lime

It’s usually best to lime your soil in the autumn and allow it to work its way into the soil over the winter. You do not want to lime when you have crops in the ground as the lime may well damage the crops Since brassicas like both high amounts of nitrogen & humus as well as a high pH, manure in the autumn for them and lime in the early spring,

Conclusion

Testing the soil takes little time and is very cheap. The benefit of liming is huge so do it as part of your rotation and you will see better crops for your efforts.

Amount of Lime to Raise Soil pH from 5.5 to 6.5
Soil Type KG / M2 lb / yd2
Clay 0.9 1.66
Sand 0.7 1.29
Light 0.8 1.47
Organic 1.1 2.03
Peat 1.7 3.13

How Much Lime Should I Add?

Your soil test should tell you exactly how much (if any) lime to add to your soil. If the soil test indicates an acidic pH and reveals low magnesium levels, add dolomitic lime. If magnesium levels are in the acceptable range, add garden lime. Lime recommendations are often given in number of pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet, so you may want to do some measuring of the area you want to cover before you go shopping for lime.

How to use garden lime

When you get the results back on your soil’s pH and they indicate that you need to reduce the acidity, Wolfe says to pay attention to the instructions regarding how much garden lime to add to balance your soil, specifically. When adding the garden lime, always do so cautiously—adding it incrementally, rather than dumping it all at once. You don’t want to go overboard and end up with soil that’s too alkaline, Wolfe explains.

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According to Wolfe, the best way to apply garden lime is to “spread it evenly over the ground, then cultivate it into the soil.” For smaller gardens, a garden spreader will help you apply the lime evenly. But if you’re working with larger garden beds, use a hard rake or rototiller to gently loosen the top three or four inches of soil after liming.

Soil Type

Soil has a quality known as buffering capacity, aka reserve acidity, that is greatest in the presence of clay and rich organic matter. Dirt that can buffer changes in pH is less likely to become too acidic or alkaline. If yours is sandy, it may not be able to buffer properly to avoid becoming acidic. Read more about understanding the kind of dirt that you may have in your plot.

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