Commonly Asked Questions about Lime Stabilization for Your Property

Posted on: 16 December 2015

Lime stabilization is a commonly used process for making soil on your property better able to handle construction projects and the installation of paving materials. Adding lime can be done for overly moist soil and for soil that is the consistency of clay, although it's not a fix for every problem you may encounter with your soil before construction begins. Note a few commonly asked questions about lime stabilization so you can discuss these with a contractor and know if this solution would be good for your property.

1. When is lime stabilization needed?

Lime is primarily added to soil to dry it out. This material quickly absorbs excess moisture in the soil so that it isn't as likely to expand when concrete or asphalt is spread on its top layers and so that it can more readily hold the weight of a building. Soil becomes more compact and less elastic when lime is added so that it is then stronger and more stable overall.

Lime stabilization is often needed in tropical areas where the soil may be very moist or in areas with heavy rainfall. It can also be added to areas that do not have proper drainage, which causes the soil to hold more water than it should and, in turn, become moist and soft.

2. Is lime used for dust control?

Some soil stabilizers are used specifically for dust suppression in areas where soil erosion is common. While lime may make soil less elastic, dust stabilizers tend to glue the particles of soil together. Lime makes the soil more compact without necessarily holding dry particles to the surface. If your soil needs stabilization or treatment due to excess dust or erosion due to high winds, lime may not be the best choice or as effective as other stabilizers.

3. Can lime be added to garden areas?

If your garden areas are overly moist and soggy, you can add lime to these areas to absorb some of that excess moisture. However, it's good to consider using what is called food-grade lime. This is lime that is safe for your vegetables to absorb without damaging their chemical properties. Food-grade lime is often sold at gardening centers whereas lime used for stabilizing soil before construction may be sold at hardware and home improvement stores. Be sure you understand the proper ratio for mixing this into gardening soil versus regular topsoil and note if you need to water down the lime to activate its chemical properties.