Darrell Blackwelder: Proper lime application guidelines
Spring has arrived, and many are excited about their yards and gardens. Adding lime to lawns and gardens is often a required chore, but some apply lime incorrectly.
Below are a few facts about lime application:
• Lime is a soil amendment. Dolomitic lime contains both calcium and magnesium.
• Lime is available in powdered or pelletized form for easy application.
• The soil amendment is applied to raise the soil pH. Soils in our area are clay type soils with low pH. 7 is neutral — any level below 7 is acidic —while levels above 7 are alkaline.
• Lime can be applied at any time of the year. However, fall is usually the best time for application.
• Most plants, including fescue and garden vegetables, grow best in slightly acidic soils with a pH of 6.0-6.5. Soils with a pH below 6.0 are considered too acidic for optimal growth.
• Plants such as azaleas, rhododendron and blueberries grow best in soils with a soil pH below 6.0.
• Both low and high pH soils inhibit the uptake of nutrients.
• Soil testing is mandatory to determine both soil nutrient and pH levels.
• Applying lime or any other plant nutrients without soil testing can be detrimental to plant growth and nonproductive. The phrase “You can’t put down too much lime” is incorrect — in fact, you can.
• Soil testing is conducted by the NC Dept. of Agriculture. The kits are available at the NC Cooperative Extension Office on Old Concord Road in Salisbury.