How to Add Lime to Soils

Overview

All soil has a pH level. A soil's pH is a measure of the soil's alkaline or acid level. Soil that is pH neutral is rated 7.0 on the pH scale. Most plants take up nutrients efficiently in pH neutral soil, but a few plants take up nutrients more effectively if the soil is more acidic or alkaline. Blueberries are one example of a plant that prefers acidic soil. If soil has a low pH rating, it is more acidic. You can raise the pH of acidic soil to make it neutral by adding dolomite limestone, also called lime, to your soil.

Step 1

Take a soil sample by digging 1 quart of soil each from up to 10 locations in your plot of land. Mix the soil in a bucket and spread it over a newspaper in a well-ventilated room to dry. Collect one cut of soil and place it in a plastic sandwich bag. Take this soil to a soil laboratory to have it pH tested. Recommendations for lime amounts and application rates are usually included in the testing results.

Step 2

Time application of lime several weeks before planting. This way, the full effects of the lime application are in effect by the time you plant your vegetables or landscape plants. Lime works best when you apply it in spring or fall.

Step 3

Break up your soil to a depth of 6 inches using a rototiller. Spread lime over your soil in the amount recommended by the soil test. Generally you should never apply more than 50 pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet of soil in a single application. If your soil needs more lime than this, break it into several applications. Doing so can burn plants and harm beneficial microbes in the soil.

Step 4

Mix the lime with your soil by passing a rototiller over the soil a second time.

Step 5

Water your soil to help trigger a chemical reaction between the limestone and soil that will start the process of raising your soil pH.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Newspaper
  • Plastic sandwich bag
  • Rototiller
  • Lime
  • Garden hose

References

  • University of Arkansas Extension: Liming Your Soil
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Soil Preparation and Liming
  • University of Tennessee Extension: Liming Soils in Tennessee

Who Can Help

  • Washington State University: Some Thoughts About Soil, pH, Fertilizers and Lime
Keywords: improving acid soil, raising garden pH, liming soil

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."