Choosing Fertilizers For Home Lawns
Burned grass is a drawback of fast release nitrogen fertilizers.
Fertilizing is an important lawn care practice, as it influences grass color, ability to recover from stress, and helps prevent weed invasions and disease. There are important features to consider when choosing lawn fertilizers at the local garden center.
Nitrogen , phosphorus , and potassium are the three major nutrients needed by lawns. Nitrogen is the nutrient required most, although too much nitrogen can cause excessive topgrowth, leading to assorted problems. Percent nitrogen is always the first of three numbers on the fertilizer bag, followed by phosphorus and potassium. For example, a 18-6-12 fertilizer contains 18 percent nitrogen. This number is important because it determines how much fertilizer is needed. In most cases, a rate of one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is suggested for each fertilizer application to the lawn. If high percentage nitrogen fertilizers are used, then less actual fertilizer product is needed to supply that one pound compared to fertilizers with low percent nitrogen. Recommended ratios of N-P-K for lawn fertilizers include 3:1:2 or 4:1:2.
What Is Lawn Fertilizer
Three essential nutrients make up all varieties of lawn fertilizer: nitrogen , phosphorus , and potassium . Evenplant food has these ingredients, though in different quantities than fertilizer for grass. Each of the nutrients benefits your lawn in different ways:
Nitrogen helps green up your lawn and gets it growing quickly.
Phosphorus encourages healthy roots.
Potassium helps your lawn resist diseases, tolerate cold, and withstand drought.
When picking lawn fertilizers, you’ll want to look at the NPK number to determine if it’s what you need. For example, a fertilizer for new grass will have a high phosphorus number to give the root system a head start, while an option for established grass will have a lower amount.
Should I Put Down Grass Seed Or Fertilizer First
How you plant your new grass seed will determine the order of application for the starter fertilizer. Remember, whether you overseed or plant in exposed soil, using fertilizer for mature grass will be too strong of a formula for germinating seedlings.
If you overseed your existing lawn, you can sow the seeds first and then apply the starter fertilizer across the lawn to lightly cover the seeds and deliver the proper nutrients. The new seeds will germinate and mix into the existing grass matrix.
If youre planting in freshly tilled soil, apply the starter fertilizer first, then sow the seed. This way, seeds will get the amount of light they need to germinate across the entire yard, and they will settle into the soil with regular watering.
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How To Fertilize The Lawn
Discover how easy it is to feed your turf with fertilizer. For best results, start with an easy and inexpensive soil test, which tells you how much fertilizer to apply and what formulation to use.
Follow the directions on the fertilizer bag most fertilizers are formulated to supply about 1/2 to one pound of nitrogen per feeding.
Step 1Step 1Determining Fertilizer Type
Lawn fertilizers are distinguished by the N-P-K numbers on the front of the bag. These letters stand for Nitrogen , Phosphorus and Potassium and represent the percentage by weight of each of those nutrients in the fertilizer. Nitrogen helps plants grow and green up, Phosphorus stimulates deep root development and Potassium provides all around health and disease/drought resistance. Choosing the right combination depends on a number of variables including sunlight exposure and climate.
Step 2Step 2Measure Out Fertilizer
Follow the directions on the bag carefully. Determine the size of your yard then measure out the right amount of fertilizer. Depending on the measurement, using the whole bag may mean you’re applying too much or too little. Never apply more fertilizer than the soil test or fertilizer label instructs. Even distribution is key. A great way to do this is to use a quality spreader, which ensures that the nutrient particles are evenly over the lawn, which will keep the health and colour consistent throughout.
How Do I Calculate How Much Fertilizer I Need
Fertilizer recommendations for lawns can be confusing to the average homeowner. These instructions are usually given in pounds of nitrogen to be applied per 1,000 square feet. Home gardeners often have difficulty converting these recommendations to the amounts needed for their selected grade of nitrogen fertilizer and their homes lawn size. Luckily, you can use online fertilizer calculators to simplify things.
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How To Fertilise A Lawn
You can fertilise a lawn by hand, but it can be a difficult process as it is hard to tell whether you have put the right amount down. It is generally advisable to use a spreader as most lawn care professionals do because they can help you to spread your fertiliser evenly over the surface and give better results. There are several different types of spreader that you can use. Shoulder or handheld spreaders are good for gardens that are not a standard rectangle shape and are very easy to use. You can also use mechanical push-along spreaders. These spreaders are better for large gardens where you have a lot of fertiliser to spread. Rotary spreaders have a spinning mechanism that throws or sprays the fertiliser while drop fertilisers have small holes in the underside out of which the feed drops onto the grass. Liquid fertiliser can be sprayed directly onto the lawn surface and is good for demand feeding in areas that need more nutrients.
Ideally you should feed your lawn as soon after mowing as possible as this will give the grass more time to absorb the nutrients before the next mow. If you mow your lawn after fertilising you may remove the fertiliser before it has a chance to sink in properly.
Summer Fertilizing Considerations For Cool Season Lawns
My advice to you is to slow play your way into and through the summer. Cool season lawns like Kentucky Bluegrass, Turf Type Tall Fescue and ryegrass can do a little better over 85F but for sure, Kentucky Bluegrass and Rye do not like it that hot. And the last thing you want to do to your cool season grass when its dealing with the upper limits of its tolerance for heat, is push it to grow more. And that is what nitrogen does, it pushes the lawn to grow. Remember our growth calendar? See how your grass likes to chill a little in summer? Lets use fertilizer to complement its natural growth habit rather than try and push through it.
Now dont read me wrong, cool season lawns will be ok when it gets over 85F but at that point, you want to work with them on their defense, get your irrigation strategy in line, and maybe even supplement with Hydretain. Idea being, you want to defend them against going into summer dormancy. Check out this video I made in 2012 when we were suffering high heat and a drought in the south suburbs of Chicago:
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What About Environmental Pollution
The two nutrients of greatest concern are nitrogen and phosphorus. The primary concerns are leaching into groundwater and runoff that contaminates surface waters .
High levels of nitrogen in groundwater can lead to high levels of nitrogen in wells. Numerous health disorders are associated with elevated nitrogen in drinking water.
Phosphorus pollution of surface waters leads to plant growth in streams, ponds, and lakes. Algal blooms resulting from high phosphorus levels can reduce oxygen levels in waterways to the point of killing fish. Phosphorus-stimulated growth of aquatic plants also can result in fouled waterways, rendering them unusable for recreation purposes.
There are many sources of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Research at universities has consistently demonstrated that synthetic fertilizers applied to lawns are not a major source of surface or groundwater pollution. Grass is a very efficient absorber of nitrogen, and leaching and run-off are rare when applicators use common sense. When fertilizer is applied properly to lawns at low rates, leaching is unlikely to occur and runoff is no more likely than it is from nonfertilized lawns.
A recent report in Penn State Agriculture indicates that 99.7 percent of nitrogen pollution comes from sources other than golf courses and lawns.
When To Put Fertilizer On Lawns
All lawns need fertilizer in early spring when the grass begins to green up. Your fertilization schedule for the rest of the season depends on the type of grass in your lawn, the type of fertilizer you use, and your climate. Most lawn seed is a mixture of several different types of grasses, and both spring and fall fertilization are appropriate.
The label on a bag of lawn fertilizer will recommend a schedule based on the type of fertilizer it contains. The label is your best guide to how often to apply the product and how much to use. As long as you dont overdo it and avoid fertilizing in the hottest part of summer, your lawn should thrive.
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What Should I Know Before I Fertilize
Start by reading the package directions so you know how much area the fertilizer will cover. Adjust your spreader based on the bag directions. Fill the spreader on a level surface away from the lawn. Make sure the spreader is in the closed position so you do not spill fertilizer at the loading site.
When using soluble fertilizers, avoid burning grass by apply-ing the fertilizer when the lawn is dry and temperatures are cool. Evening is better than morning, when there often is dew on the grass.
Avoid fertilizing during very hot summer weather. Grass normally doesnt need fertilizer in the heat of summer, and growth at that time tends to favor shoots over roots. If you do fertilize in midsummer, use lower rates.
After you apply the fertilizer, use a blower or broom to remove fertilizer from sidewalks or other hard surfaces, where it might stain concrete or get washed into storm sewers. After cleaning hard surfaces, water the lawn to reduce the chance of foliar burn and to wash the fertilizer into the root zone, where the grass roots can use it. If the area is dry, irrigate thoroughly just as you would when watering your lawn. If the area is moist, water just enough to wash the fertilizer off the foliage and into the root zone.
How To Apply 10
Fertilizing a lawn with an all-purpose 10-10-10 nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium fertilizer Although this all-purpose fertilizer formulation comes in both water-soluble and slow-release forms, the slow-release form is more beneficial. The slow-release granules provide a steady supply of the nutrients over a longer period, reducing the risk of fertilizer burn. With proper preparation, timing and rate of application, you can use this fertilizer to create a lawn worthy of your pride.
Collect a sample of your grass and deliver it to a local county extension office to determine whether it is a cool-season or warm-season variety. Fertilize cool-season grass varieties once in the spring when new growth begins and twice in the fall when the high summer temperatures begin to cool. Space fall applications 30 days apart. Fertilize warm-season grass twice in the spring and twice in the fall. Apply the first spring application when new growth begins and the second application 30 days later. Apply the first fall application after the grass’s fast summer growth slows and the second application 30 days later.
Mow your lawn three days prior to spreading the fertilizer. Water the grass thoroughly to moisten the soil one to three days before applying the fertilizer. Allow the grass blades to dry completely.
Things You Will Need
10-10-10 NPK slow-release fertilizer
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The Best Times To Apply Fertilizer
Whether youre a seasoned turfgrass fanatic or a first-time lawn owner, fertilizer schedules arent always the easiest to track throughout the year. Have no fear! Were here to help you keep up with when to fertilize your lawn, what type of fertilizer to use, and even how to organically care for your lawn if conventional fertilizers arent your thing.
Bermuda Zoysia & Centipede
Omit fertilizer for these months. Your grass will be dormant, and you dont want to promote growth during this time.
Pre-emergent exception: You may apply a low nitrogen fertilizer and pre-emergent combo from late February to early March to prevent weed seeds from germinating. An example of a low nitrogen ratio is 0-0-7 with pre-emergent.
Limestone: During early spring, conduct a soil test to determine if the pH of your soil is too acidic. If the results of your soil test pH are too low, apply lime to your lawn. We recommend Pelletized Dolomitic Limestone.
When all of your grass is green and completely out of dormancy, apply 16-4-8 + Iron to Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass.
Since Centipedegrass likes low nitrogen, apply 5-10-30 + Iron to it. Centipede fertility is a little different than other lawns so read our Fertilizer Tricks for your Centipede Lawn.
Organic Lawn Care Alternative: Instead of applying fertilizer, topdress your lawn with Soil3 organic humus compost. This will act as one application of fertilizer for the year and cut down on your chemical use.
Apply 16-4-8 + Iron as your final application of fertilizer for the year.
Fall and Winter:
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Rotary Spreader With Fertilizer
Tip: Before filling the hopper of a rotary spreader, make sure its closed. Also, consider filling the hopper over a tarp so you can easily gather any spilled fertilizer.
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Tip: Before filling the hopper of a rotary spreader, make sure its closed. Also, consider filling the hopper over a tarp so you can easily gather any spilled fertilizer.
Nitrogen is every lawn’s most important ingredient, and each type of grass demands different amounts to display peak growth and performance. How often you fertilize affects not only lawn appearance, but also maintenance level. The more you fertilize, the more you’ll have to mow, for instance.
What Happens If I Over
Along with fertilize burn, over-fertilizing can cause damage to your turfs root structure, as well. Some fertilizers contain high levels of nitrogen, which if absorbed in large amounts can become harmful. What mainly causes the dreaded burn, however, is an abundant accumulation of soluble salts.
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Characteristics Of Nitrogen Fertilizers For Home LawnsNitrogen Type
|1. More uniform grass growth
2. Not likely to burn grass
3. Losses through soil or air less likely
| 1. May not work on cold soil
2. Most are expensive
3. May not see quick color change in grass
In addition, a variety of special lawn fertilizers may be found. Winterizer fertilizers are typically high in potassium, and although advertised for fall application can be applied in spring as well. Potassium is used all year by grasses, and is involved in heat and cold tolerance, disease resistance, and other stress tolerances. Weed and feed products contain a broadleaf weed killer for weeds such as dandelions others contain a preemergence herbicide to control crabgrass . Lawn starter products, typically high in phosphorus, are intended for newly seeded lawns and freshly laid sod.
There are a variety of organic sources of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium available to the homeowner. As mentioned earlier most organic fertilizers are derived from plant or animal sources. Plant sources would include alafalfa and cottonseed meal and seaweed. Examples of animal sources would include bone meal and the manures from chickens, cows and horses. Yet another source comes directly from mother nature in the form of rock phosphate for a source of phosphorus and green sand for a source of potassium. Find and use products that are locally available whenever possible to keep the input costs down.
In this section : Planting and Maintenance
Know Your Lawn To Know What You Need
The best fertilizer for your lawn will minimize weed and pest issues. Your lawn fertilizer should promote healthy grass. There are a large variety of lawn fertilizers. The right food will give you a beautiful green landscape. Knowing a few things about gardening will help you make the best choice for your lawn. Grass needs regular moisture. All lawns need nutrients. Air and rain will give your lawn some nutrients, but you need to apply additional nutrients. The main nutrients are potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus. A soil test will help you determine the perfect ratio of these ingredients.
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What Lawncare Chemicals Should I Use On My Lawn
I often get questions from customers regarding the use of a variety of chemically-based lawncare products, such as fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides and fungicides. Questions range from how to choose the right product, how much to use and when it should be applied. Ive provided some guidance here to help.
Always read and follow manufacturers directions for all lawncare products. Youll find information about the products active ingredients, the problem it addresses, necessary personal protective equipment , as well as proper application and clean-up.
As a general rule, only apply the lawncare products that are necessary to address the problem at the lowest effective rate possible. Applying an excess of chemicals can have a number of potential harmful effects on humans, pets, the soils ecosystem, beneficial insects, wildlife, aquatic creatures and the environment, particularly waterways.
Its also important to familiarize yourself with local guidelines and restrictions regarding the application of lawncare products, including amounts and time of year a product can be applied. Guidelines are in place to protect both you and the environment. If you have questions regarding the use of lawncare chemicals, as well as state and local restrictions, I recommend you contact your local extension office.
Before applying any chemicals to your lawn, consider more environmentally friendly lawncare practices and products.
Milorganite and grass seed in a spreader