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Living Life Green

5 Green Renovations for Your Home

Bobbi PetersonPlanning a home renovation is both a fun and stressful task. It’s exhilarating to think of all the ways you can improve your home and turn it into a reflection of your personality, lifestyle, and values. It’s also stressful to consider aspects like budget, time management, DIY vs. hiring professionals, and how to navigate the disruption of your normal routines.

On top of that, conscientious homeowners also choose to consider the environmental impact and sustainability of their projects. That doesn’t mean you have to add extra stress, however. You can take steps toward a greener renovation by following these five tips for renovating your home the clean way:

1. Plan Before You Act

Planning helps you get a full picture of what you need for your remodel. You can create a comprehensive plan that streamlines your efforts and reduces costly and wasteful backtracking.

Start by sitting down for a brainstorming session where you write down everything that comes to mind when you consider your renovation wishes and needs. List everything: ugly fixtures you want to get rid of, inefficient appliances that need upgrading, functional changes needed to fit your lifestyle, and measures to make your home greener.

After you’ve poured out all your thoughts, you can start figuring out what order projects need to be done in. Ask yourself: What’s crucial to the safety or stability of your home? What tasks need to be done first so they can pave the way for future projects?

Getting all of this planned out helps your renovation be more efficient in terms of resources and time. Jumping in without a plan could mean you waste both time and money on a project you have to redo later because you failed to account for all potential issues.

2. Pick the Right Materials

From recycled materials to sustainable wood to no-VOC paints and stains, picking the right material can help reduce waste, decrease your footprint, and promote better health.

Some of these choices are simple, like selecting no-VOC paint and Energy Star appliances. Other materials will take a little more research. Look for materials that are made from recycled goods or are made of sustainable material. For example, bamboo is a quick-growing, sustainable resource that lends itself well to everything from cabinets to countertops to flooring. When it comes to countertops, skip the solid surface options and look for counters made from tree pulp or recycled glass.

Don’t forget to include hidden but crucial materials like insulation in your green material search. There are a number of high-performing, eco-friendly insulation options available.

3. Regift, Reuse, Recycle

Think twice before you start swinging a sledgehammer or filling a dumpster. Sure, it’s the quickest route for demolition, but is it the best?

So many renovation projects trash perfectly usable material. Just because you don’t want it or like it doesn’t mean it can’t be used by someone else. Talk to your local Habitat for Humanity about what they accept as donations or accept to sell at ReStore. Neighborhood Facebook pages and websites like Freecycle or Craigslist can help you find a new home for your old materials, fixtures, appliances, or furniture.

Think critically about what you can reuse from your project. Can you refinish old floors instead of replacing them? Give a cosmetic or organizational update to cabinets instead of getting new ones? Can you refashion old cabinets, furniture, or salvaged wood into something new and useful for your space?

Don’t forget to check with local waste management or green construction companies to find out what waste can be recycled rather than put in a landfill.

4. Clean and Trash Safely

Do your research before cleaning or disposing of construction materials to make sure your actions do not harm yourself, others, or the environment.

Not all construction waste can go in your trash can. Research to find out how to safely dispose of materials like paint, batteries, and cleaners. The EPA’s website is a great resource not only for safe disposal of hazardous waste, but also for tips on how to reduce your use of hazardous materials.

Paint is one of the cheapest, quickest ways to update your home, but homeowners need to be careful that they don’t take the quick and easy route when it comes to cleaning up from paint projects. Excess paint should not be tossed in the trash, and latex paints should be cleaned only in sinks linked to municipal sewage to avoid pollution.

5. Get Help

Research and planning goes a long way, but there’s no substitute for the experience and resources of professionals. Partner with green builders and eco-minded professionals in your area to ensure that you make the best choices for your lifestyle, your home, and the environment.

It might take a little extra work or even cost a little more upfront, but renovating your home the green way pays it forward with long-term savings, fewer risks to your health, and a far-reaching, positive impact on the environment.

Home renovation
Photo by Fotolia/Leandervasse

How Your Roof Affects Your Energy Consumption

Bobbi PetersonOne of the keys to being energy-conscious is in the details around your home. This includes the type of roof you choose when building or replacing an old one. One of the best ways to have a green roof is to look into the option of a "cool roof" when planning your next home improvement project.

What Is a Cool Roof?

This particular type of roof is designed to have a surface that absorbs much less heat than a standard roof. It reflects the sunlight from the surface, which can be done several different ways — from reflective paint to reflective shingles to tiles. It might not seem extremely significant, but the installation of a cool roof can reduce the temperature of the surface by more than 50 degrees.

When you consider the cost of air conditioning a home during the summer months, the energy savings you’ll have will be significant and worth the transition.

What Exactly Are the Benefits of Cool Roofs?

The savings on your energy bill are only a part of the benefits that come with the installation of a cool roof. On top of more money in your bank account, a cool roof can also improve the non-climate-controlled parts of your home, such as the garage or enclosed porch.

Furthermore, the reduction in temperature can increase the longevity of your roof life, and that means even greater savings for you in the future. It’s also better for the environment, since it cuts down on the harmful CO2 missions that are created by powering your heating/cooling system.

What Kinds of Options Are Out There?

Another bonus of this roof system is that you have plenty of options to choose from to find which one best suits your home and your needs. Cool roof coatings can be used for almost any roof type and are made up of reflective or white pigments that are formulated to protect the surface of your roof from UV light and even the damage that’s sometimes caused by water.

To choose how to make your roof cooler, you first need to know what kind of roof you’ll be installing and the materials your existing roof is made of. Hybrid roofs can be made cool simply by applying the cool roof coating at the factory where they’re manufactured, while shingled roofs require the purchase of special cool asphalt shingles. Tile roofs can be coated, on the other hand, and are often used to achieve a desired aesthetic. Often times they are even naturally reflective — like terra cotta tiles — and can be improved by waterproofing.

Another option is the installation of a cool metal roof. This doesn’t mean that any metal will do. For best results, you’ll want metal produced specifically with this application in mind.

Finally, you may also like the option of installing a green roof. This can consist of basic coverage by grass or even a garden. Earth homes are good examples of structures with a green roof, and these types of roof systems also help insulate, thereby reducing the usage of heating. However, this option does tend to be costlier and may require more maintenance, so make sure you consider all of your options before you make a final decision.

Is a Cool Roof Right for You?

There isn’t necessarily a right or a wrong answer to this question; the decision to install a cool roof should be made after careful consideration and assessment of all the different types that are out there, as well as which option best suits your home in structure and cost. If you’re building a new home then your choices are completely open, and you can weigh the pros and cons that come with shingles, tile, or metal.

If you’re updating, it’s important to understand what the original materials are and just how much you may need to replace or change.

Whatever decision you make, you’ll reap the rewards of a cool roof by reducing your monthly household expenses, and you’ll also be doing something great for the environment. Every one of us can do our own part to reduce greenhouse gases and cut energy use. Installing a cool roof is one option that can have a significant impact.

Men installing new roof
Photo by Fotolia/Stieber

Clean Home Heating This Winter

Bobbi PetersonFall and winter are perfect times to cozy up and enjoy some indoor fun — Netflix binge-watching, catching up on the latest book club pick, or playing board games with the family. It’s all a good time, as long as your home is warm enough to enjoy it.

Many people struggle with worries over their environmental impact and how to balance that with enough fuel to keep their homes warm.

Cleaner sources of energy are one answer — they keep your home warm throughout the fall and winter, have less of an environmental impact, and are cheaper for homeowners.

Strategies for a Cleaner, Warmer Home

There are some strategies that can help you save energy during these months without overtaxing your heating system. Many are free — and others are cheap — and they can be used every day to decrease your monthly energy bills and your environmental footprint.

Here are some ways to keep your home warmer while using cleaner energy:

1. Rely on the Sun

Open the blinds or shutters to any south-facing windows during the day. The sun can naturally heat parts of your home.

Close them back up when the sun goes down to protect against winter winds and plunging temperatures.

2. Reduce Heat Loss From the Fireplace

Because it’s a source of warmth, few people realize that the fireplace is also a source for losing precious heat. Unless a fire is burning, keep your damper closed. An open damper is the same as having a window wide open — warm air goes right up the chimney.

It’s also a good idea to install tempered glass doors, along with a heat exchange system, to ensure the warm air is blown into the room. The fireplace flue damper’s seal should be as snug as possible.

3. Cover Drafty Windows

There are a few ways to protect your home against window drafts. A quick method is to tape heavy-duty, clear plastic inside your window’s frame.

A more permanent solution would be to install insulating drapes or shades over drafty windows. For both solutions, be sure the window covering is installed tightly.

4. Switch to Propane

Propane is known for being both reliable and efficient. However, many don’t realize it’s also a better environmental choice for heating.

Compared with other fuel sources, propane emits significantly fewer greenhouse gases. It was endorsed by The Clean Air Act of 1990 as a cleaner fuel source. It’s a smart upgrade when you are looking for better heat source.

5. Service the Furnace

Most people set the furnace and forget it, but that’s not the best practice. Yearly calls to a trusted HVAC company will mean your system runs more efficiently and problems can be found before your furnace tanks.

You’ll also want to replace your furnace’s filter regularly. Traditional wisdom says to replace it monthly, but that can vary depending on your home and habits.

6. Watch the Temperature

Some thermostats will regulate the temperature based on your living habits. When the family is asleep, the temp stays low, but it will automatically raise the temperature at 7:15 a.m., just before the alarm, or whenever your morning routine starts.

These programmable thermostats remove the worry of constantly adjusting the temperature and can save you 10 percent annually.

7. Lower the Water Heater Temperature

About 18 percent of your home’s energy consumption comes from heating water. The default temperature for most water heaters is 140 degrees, which is fairly high.

To save some change and use less energy, dial back the temp on your water heater to the recommended 120 degrees. It’s also a safer temperature in homes with children who may scald themselves trying to wash up.

8. Lower Your Lighting Costs

Most people have made the switch from traditional bulbs to LED bulbs — they last much longer and are less damaging to the environment because they conserve more energy.

Consider this for your holiday lights, too. The season may be past, but many families keep their holiday lights on throughout the winter’s long months to make up for the short days. If your family is one of them, consider LED holiday lighting strings instead of traditional electric ones.

You Can Conserve Energy for Less Cost and a Brighter Future

Most energy comes from non-renewable resources. Coal and petroleum energy are costlier for users and have a finite life span.

Tempering your use of those fossil fuels with more energy-efficient practices is a good idea. It will ensure you have sources for heating your home that don’t rely on exhaustible fuels that are hard on the environment. It also means more cash in your wallet — which is good for everyone.

Fireplace book and blanket
Photo by Fotolia/blindfire

Benefits of Purchasing an Old Homestead

Bobbi PetersonOld homesteads are increasing in popularity, for good reason. Their construction is a known quality, and they can serve many purposes for an eclectic family. They also offer homeowners a path to self-sustainability.

If you have dreams of farmhouse sinks, planting your own herbs, or chasing your children in your own rolling fields, you might want to consider purchasing an old homestead.

Benefits of Purchasing a Homestead

Here are some benefits you can look forward to with a homestead:

1. You Have the Ability to Make It Your Own

Have you ever walked into a newly-constructed home, only to be put off by the color of granite they chose for the countertops? How about the beautiful walnut cabinets that don’t fit with your all-white aesthetic?

What about the surrounding area — have you wanted to build a barn but just don’t have the room? With a homestead, you can make the inside of the home your own, as well as the home’s surroundings.

If the property does come with extra buildings, they are just waiting for your customizations. Not a farmer, but have a silo? Imagine the unique, Airbnb cottage or dream playhouse you could create for your children or potential tenants. Old homesteads are gold mines for those with endless dreams.

2. You Can Be Self-Sufficient

Only for those not faint of heart, an older homestead provides the opportunity for self-sufficiency. If you are searching for an old homestead for the lifestyle and not simply to be the envy of Pinterest, get ready for a hard-working adventure.

You can:

• Brew your own beer
• Create your own milk and dairy products
• Grow your own vegetables
• Raise honeybees
• Save money
• Leave a smaller carbon footprint

3. You Can Experience Expert Craftsmanship

The attention to a strong build was much higher in the 1800s and early 1900s — when many older homesteads were built — compared to the present. If a structure is over 100 years old, you have a time-tested guarantee that the home was built with quality materials (assuming there are no visible alarms).

You will need to put work into repairs, but that is much less expensive than searching for a quality builder to erect an entire homestead.

Other Considerations When Purchasing a Homestead

An older homestead can leave a smaller impact on the environment, increase your connection to the earth, and give you a truly personal project to work on for years. However, it is not an endeavor to take on lightly. There are several considerations and research you should do before making the commitment:

1. Zoning: Zoning can become complicated with homestead land. Planning to put up ten artist studios to help pay down that mortgage? Make sure before you buy that your home is properly zoned for your future plans. Many rural areas have zoning restrictions to prevent suburban and urban sprawl, so plan accordingly!

2. Timing: Finding an old property can take time. Many buyers have waited years to find the ideal property. With new construction being completed in as little as four months from the start of construction, it’s easy to be tempted away from polishing an old gem. Even after finding the ideal property, you can expect at least a half year’s time investment to restore it — and that’s an ideal timeline for someone solely focused on restoration.

If you have a family and are not a contractor, plan on years of restoration work. On the bright side, housing projects are a great way to teach your children about maintaining a home, and are a productive way to bond. It is definitely a different lifestyle than living in a pre-manicured home.

3. Isolation: Some homesteads are located close to thriving towns, though many are located in isolated rural areas. For some, the thought of living peacefully and privately is a lifetime goal. Others may react more like Jack Torrance from “The Shining.”

Can you be happy if you get snowed in regularly for days at a time? Is making an appearance at your local Starbucks each morning important to you? Consider how much social activity is essential to your well-being.

Owning Your Own Homestead: Not for the Faint of Heart

Gorgeous restored farmhouses are a growing trend because they take us back to what matters most in life: family and our connection to the earth. While it takes a lot of work to maintain an old homestead, the joy of becoming a steward to land with a unique history is intoxicating for many homeowners.

However, it’s important to realize that behind those perfected, Home & Garden photos is a lot of hard work. If you have the patience, budget, and desire to restore these beacons of culture, though, you can expect a home filled with warmth, character, and function.

Established homestead
Photo by Fotolia/ehrlif

How to Prevent and Treat Milk Fever in Cows

Bobbi PetersonMilk fever, also called hypocalcaemia, occurs primarily in dairy cows, but it can occur in any kind of cow or other mammals around calving or birthing. It’s the result of the milk draining too much calcium out of the cow’s blood, causing the muscles to stop working properly. Most often you won’t know it’s a danger until you find the cow already down. Knowing how to prevent it and what to do if it occurs is vital information for any farmer.

Causes and Symptoms

Milk fever is a readily treatable condition, but it’s important to seek help quickly. Without proper treatment, milk fever can lead to death. Essentially, when the cow is close to calving, the body draws excess calcium from the blood in order to produce more milk. When too much calcium is taken, it causes the cow’s muscles to stop functioning properly. This leads to the most common sign of milk fever: a downed cow.

Often the cow is either close to calving or has calved in the past day. When a cow is found down, do what you can for them. Protect them from the elements as best you can and observe them to see if you can make a solid determination of milk fever.

Stages of Milk Fever

The signs you’ll need to look for will be subtle, because going down close to calving time is the main one. If you can catch it early, you can minimize the risk to the cow and future calves. At first, the cow will seem “off.” She’s likely to be easily spooked or excitable. This stage only lasts for about an hour, so it’s easy to miss. It’s important to trust your intuition and to know your animals.

The second stage is more easily observed, as the cow will become increasingly distressed. She may continually turn her head toward her flank and develop an unsteady gait. Constipation and a low temperature are also common. Most cows have a healthy temperature around 101.5 degrees, but a cow with milk fever will have a temperature between 96-100 degrees. She will likely also seem weak and lethargic and have a cold nose and ears.

The third stage is when you need to act quickly. This is when the cow goes down, and the heart rate becomes fast and weak. Without fast treatment, the cow may become comatose and can die.

Best Prevention

Know which cows are the most at risk. Carefully regulate the diet of dry cows for approximately two weeks before calving. Once the cow has calved, it needs to have adequate calcium intake during milk production. This equates to two to three times as much calcium per day — or 20-30 grams — compared to what is needed during fetal development.

Monitoring the cow’s intake shortly before and especially directly after calving is the best way to prevent milk fever. It’s important to note that you also don’t want to overdo the calcium intake. If a dry cow is conditioned to too much calcium, her body will down-regulate the absorption of the mineral. When more is suddenly needed after calving, the cow’s body may be unable to switch gears quickly enough to prevent milk fever. Keeping the calcium intake at the proper levels will prevent sudden adjustment from occurring and keep your cows healthy.

Best Medicine

If you find a downed cow, the first thing to do is always call the vet. If milk fever is suspected and you’ve been trained by a vet before, you may be able to administer a calcium supplement directly on your own. You should still call a vet, though, because it’s always best to seek a professional’s opinion.

Typically, 300-600 mL of a 40-percent calcium solution should be enough to treat milk fever. If you’ve been properly trained by a vet, keep a pack of solution on hand with an injection kit. If you have not been trained on how to treat milk fever, consider asking your vet to teach you. It’s especially important if you don’t have a vet close by.

Your vet may recommend a combined solution, such as 3-in-1 or 4-in-1, which contains other minerals that are commonly depleted during milk production. If the cow is down, try to prop them up into a normal resting position to help relieve bloat as well. Your vet can train you on injections, but it’s important not to try injecting into a vein on your own, at any time. Any mistakes can cause the cow to bleed out.

Knowing the causes of milk fever and closely monitoring diet can prevent the majority of milk fever cases. If it happens, knowing the signs and acting quickly are vital to the livelihood of the animal. Make sure you’re well versed on what to do, and talk to your vet about administering injections. You never know when it might be needed.

Dairy cow calf bottle feeding
Photo by Fotolia/Big Face

How Humid Is Too Humid for a Greenhouse?

Bobbi PetersonA greenhouse is a great way to grow flowers, green plants, and even vegetables. It allows you to enjoy flowers, like orchids, that may not thrive in your home or yard. African violets, gloxinia, and ferns that might be temperamental in your living room will be colorful, verdant and lush in your greenhouse. You can continue to grow vegetables like tomatoes and peppers in a greenhouse when it’s too cold outdoors. Plus, you can grow herbs and greens all year.

You probably know greenhouses need humidity. Many plants, like ferns, thrive in a humid climate. Others, like orchids, absolutely need a humid climate to be healthy.

However, a greenhouse can become too humid for healthy plants. Read on to see why, and ways to fix too much humidity.

How Humidity Affects Plants

All plants need water to survive. Humidity is moisture in the air. Plants breathe it in through their leaves, so to some degree, humidity is good for plants needing moisture. That’s why greenhouses, as a rule, are humid.

Too much humidity, though, may cause disease in plants. Why? Because plant leaves will get wet, and fungi grow in wet plants. Mildew can get started in plants just as it can in damp areas in a house. In fact, fungi like the Botrytis pathogen and powdery mildew are all too common in greenhouses across the country.

Once these diseases start, they may spread rapidly. Humidity rises. If it builds up on the greenhouse’s ceiling, it will start to drip. When it falls on plant leaves, the drips can splash on healthy plants and infect them.

An excess of humidity can also simply cause plants to not be healthy, even if they don’t contract a specific disease. They fail to thrive. One of the reasons for this is the effect of relative humidity on plants. Relative humidity is the ratio of current moisture in the air and the moisture-holding capacity of a specific air volume at a certain temperature. Plants utilize the water in their soil through transpiration, which is the ability of the roots to take in water and send it up through the leaves, providing the plants with nourishment. The moisture is eventually extruded into the air, which cools plants down. If the relative humidity changes rapidly, the pace of transpiration can change as well. If relative humidity rises, transpiration will slow down and can damage plant tissues. So can a quick change in the opposite direction.

Causes of Excess Humidity

There are three primary causes of excess humidity in greenhouses:

The first stems from improved greenhouse technology. While technology has had many great effects on greenhouses, better seals and improved construction can create conditions that cause humidity. There is less chance of moisture evaporating.

The second is the temperature outside. Greenhouses are not a universe unto themselves! When days are sunny and warm but nights are cold, conditions for excess humidity are created. Why? Because moisture is rising from plant leaves and soil, and moisture hangs in the air. More moisture exists in warm air than in cool air. Warm temperatures cause moisture to be held as vapor, and when nights become cold, the vapor condenses. That can cause drops of water or excess moisture. It might drip down from the ceiling during the night, or it may show up as dew on the plants and soil.

The third is the temperature in the greenhouse. As a general rule, warm air can hold much more moisture than cooler air. Air that is 70 degrees Fahrenheit holds double the moisture of air that is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because of this, seasons where there might be dramatic swings in temperature between day and night, such as spring and fall, are peak potential times of excess humidity.

How to Fix Excess Humidity in Your Greenhouse

The diseases that affect plants with excess humidity can spread throughout your greenhouse. It’s important, then, to fix too-high humidity quickly.

First, make sure you have adequate ventilation and circulation. Fans, doors, and greenhouse vents will all increase ventilation and cause the air to circulate. Venting the greenhouse during the daytime will lessen moisture from both plants and soil. As a result, the chances of it condensing and dripping down during the night become greatly reduced.

Second, using bottom heat to keep the greenhouse warm when the air outside is cooler will help eliminate condensation. If you’re experiencing difficulty with excess humidity, purchase heaters for the greenhouse.

The third method is to purchase equipment that can give you a reading of humidity, such as a psychrometer. Using information from the psychrometer, you’ll be able to heat more accurately.

While humidity is essential to healthy greenhouse growing, so is the prevention of too much of it. With time, you will learn to adjust excess humidity and plan for its prevention.

small greenhouse
Photo by Fotolia/a40757se

5 Reasons to Use Limestone in Your Soil

Bobbi PetersonAgricultural limestone and dolomite limestone are the two types of lime that gardeners and farmers use to improve soil conditions. Agricultural limestone (Ag lime) contains calcium, while dolomite lime contains calcium and magnesium. Both types of limestone are beneficial, but some farmers prefer to use dolomite to combat magnesium deficiencies in the plants. Here are some other benefits of lime:

Limestone Corrects the Soil pH

Chances are that the soil in your field or garden will become acidic over time due to several factors, including decomposition of organic material and erosion. Limestone raises the pH level to a neutral range beneficial to plants, typically between 5.5 and 6.5.

If the pH is acidic and below 5.5, or if the pH is alkaline and above 6.5, this will create a nutrient deficiency in your plants. You can improve the nutritional quality of your crops by using limestone in the recommended amount.

Limestone Raises the Effectiveness of Some Herbicides

The structure of the soil in your field or garden improves with the addition of limestone to correct the soil’s pH level. Due to this improvement, nutrients are better absorbed, and your plants can retain more water. Additionally, herbicides work more efficiently in a neutral pH-based environment and break down quicker.

Limestone Prevents Toxicities in the Soil

When the soil in your field or garden reaches an acidic pH level, certain nutrients such as aluminum, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron elevate to toxic levels. Not only will limestone prevent the build-up of these nutrients, but it will safely improve the calcium level as well.

If you choose to use dolomite limestone, then both calcium and magnesium deficiencies will see improvement.

Limestone Use Increases the Farm’s Return on Investment

The recommended amount of limestone to use is results-based from a soil analysis from your fields and takes into account the climate, your crops, and the rotation you use each year.

Limestone enhances the quality and yield of the crops, which increases the farm’s return on investment. In Ireland, for example, limestone use in grasses raised the pH level to 6.3 and increased grass production by an extra 1.0 tonne DM/ha annually.

Limestone Use on Lawns Increases Good Bacterial Activity

Increasing the good bacteria in your soil will improve the composition of the soil. The decomposition of organic material causes the soil to become acidic over time, but limestone will help to disintegrate any organic matter, producing a porous soil. This new soil mixture allows for better water absorption and air circulation. As the root system continues to grow deeper and stronger, the plants will absorb more nutrients and water.

Applying Limestone to Crop Fields

Sending a sample of your soil for soil analysis to a laboratory will produce accurate results of the pH. Unlike using a home-based pH test kit, the analysis will also identify the type of soil in your field or garden.

The lab may provide suggestions for the amount of limestone you should use in order to shift the pH into the recommended range. If not, several states publish agriculture lime recommendations based on lime quality and other factors. The University of Kentucky published a report clarifying the bulk lime determination using two application rates as well as the estimated cost of using the amount of lime needed.

North American farmers tend to underutilize the amount of lime required to neutralize the acidity in the soil. This can result in poor quality crops and a lower yield. Consider using limestone and fertilizer to help your crops flourish and raise the efficiency of your fertilizer up to 50 percent.

Applying Limestone to Lawns

Experts recommend adding limestone to the soil while preparing for planting to ensure that it is properly distributed and maintains the appropriate depth to produce thick and colorful grass. Some gardeners lime their lawns before the first frost during fall season; they can see the results in the spring, after the absorption during the winter season.

Agricultural and dolomite limestone come in several forms, including huge blocks, pellets, and pulverized. According to the National Lime Association, the physical specifications of the different forms vary — the pelletized lime comes in one-inch pieces, for example. Pulverized lime is much smaller and passes through a No. 20 sieve. The size of crushed or pebble lime ranges from one-fourth inch to two and one-half inches.

Whichever size limestone you choose for your field or garden, use the correct amount combined with fertilizer to take your results to the next level.

Pile of crushed limestone
Photo by Fotolia/greentellect