An Overview of Fertilizers
The subject of lawn fertilizer, for many people, can be a confusing one. Most of what your lawn needs can be found naturally in the soil. However, its growth will suffer if any of the essential nutrients are missing from the soil your grass is growing in.
Just as people take vitamins to supplement their nutritional diet they receive from their food, grass needs its own food to stay at its best and greenest.
The three main ingredients in fertilizer which will help your lawn, regardless of the type of grass you own, are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. If your soil has a deficiency of any of these essential ingredients, you should seriously look into fertilizing your lawn. Whether you choose to have this professionally done or not is up to you.
What is important is that you buy a fertilizer with enough of these active ingredients to make a positive impact on the overall growth and health of your lawn. Let’s take a look at what these three main ingredients do to foster growth.
First and most importantly of all, nitrogen keeps your grass a healthy, vibrant green, and keeps your grass dense and thick. This is a sure sign of a healthy lawn. The healthier your lawn is, the better it will be able to naturally fight off bugs and other pests, reducing the amount of time and money you would otherwise need to spend on pricey and messy pesticides which can actually do damage to your lawn and surrounding plant life.
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The second ingredient, phosphorous, nutritionally supports strong grass roots, the base of your lawn. Potassium also helps strengthen roots as well as the blades of grass, enabling it to endure during cold weather and dry seasons. All major fertilizers will have some combination of these three compounds to ensure a healthier lawn.
When you buy fertilizer at the store, the packaging will indicate with numbers the amount of each of these three main ingredients that are present. They are numbered in the order listed above: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
For example, a reading of 15-10-8 would indicate a presence of fifteen percent nitrogen, ten percent phosphorous, and eight percent potassium. Knowing what your grass needs or has a deficiency of will help you to determine what kind of fertilizer to buy.
Learn as much as you can about the condition of your grass before you buy. Some of the things to consider are time of year, type of grass seed, how new your grass is, the climate you live in, and the type of soil present in your yard. For example, since potassium helps grass to endure cold weather, a potassium rich fertilizer would be best applied in the ensuing months before winter comes.
A ph test can help you determine the exact condition of your lawn and soil. Ph test kits can be found at the home and garden section at your local store, and at most department stores everywhere.
Choosing the Right Fertilizer For Your Lawn
Besides the three basic ingredients that can be found in fertilizer, fertilizer comes in four different ways: synthetic compounds, organic compounds, liquid, and granular.
Granular compounds are useful if you want a slow release treatment or a quick release treatment. They are by far the most popular and best selling fertilizers on the market. Most of the time, they come dry in bags, and can easily be spread and applied by hand. Be sure to wear gloves to avoid skin irritation.
Time release, or slow release granular fertilizer is a solution for those who only want occasional treatments for their lawns, giving it a time span of two to six months on average to do its work and get the desired results.
Fast release is less expensive and is best applied during the fall before winter sets in. However, be careful not to use too much, as this can cause chemical burns to the grass, killing it. Also, with this treatment, you will want to make sure your lawn gets plenty of water.
Liquid fertilizer, on the other hand, provides immediate nutrients to the roots and grass, and is applied by using a nozzle attachment on your hose, and the concentrated chemicals are mixed with water for an even coating.
This type of fertilizer is more expensive and requires more treatments than the granular method. Synthetic fertilizer is purely chemical based and is produced in the laboratory using artificial ingredients. As with the liquid treatment mentioned above, the results are immediate, but the same cautions apply: apply carefully, not too much so as to avoid burning the grass, and water liberally.
Organic fertilizer is made up of dead plant and animal life, and usually some sort of manure. This tends to be a slow release method, as the nitrogen is released over time as the organic materials break down slowly. This type of fertilizer can be applied by using a seeder, by raking, or by hand, and usually has a strong foul smell associated with it because of the presence of manure in the mixture.
The most important factor in choosing a fertilizer is getting the right combination of nutrients to the soil at a rate of speed conducive to growth. You should also consider your budget and how much you can afford to spend, as well as the amount of time and work you wish to spend fertilizing your yard, the number of applications, and so forth.
Ask any home and garden associate at your local store for recommendations based on your findings after the ph soil test. This is the best way to make an informed decision and to avoid wasting your time and money.
The best investment in a good lawn fertilizer will be that which is based on solid facts about what your lawn needs and what your lawn already has in abundance. With any fertilizer treatment, be sure to water your lawn often, especially during any dry spells.
When carefully selected, this supplement of nutrients will give you a richer, fuller, greener lawn that you can enjoy all season long.