- Fertilization is key in having a healthy, beautiful lawn. As the grass uses the nutrients in the soil they become depleted and fertilizing the lawn replenishes the nutrients so the grass can continue to thrive.
- Applying the right type of fertilizer, at the correct rate, and at the right time is very important. A homeowner can do this themselves but it is probably a good idea to have certified professional do this for you. Like say, Loyal Green.
- Below will tell you when to apply fertilizer throughout the year. It will also explain what does what and why it is important.
Why fertilize your lawn?
We hear this question a lot. It would be nice if we could fertilize our lawns once and be done with it, just like it would be nice if we could mow once for the season and that would be it. In the real world, where your lawn provides a growing, natural setting for your home and a place for your family to relax and play, it needs a regularly scheduled fertilization program to reach its potential.
Grass that receives appropriate levels of fertilizer — not too little and not too much — produces a dense root and shoot system capable of filtering out impurities or other components that might be found in runoff.
Lawns require a balanced blend
Your lawn needs a balanced fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to keep it healthy and strong. Most soils have some of these elements present, but usually they become depleted over the years. Turf is a very hungry plant during its major growing seasons.
Proper fertilizing with balanced applications throughout the growing season promotes thick, dense grass that can resist disease and weed invasions. Applying too much of any one of the basic elements can cause erratic results. For example, an over abundance of nitrogen will cause rapid growth of the grass plants that the roots can’t adequately handle; the blades become long and spindly. Balance is the key. As of yet, there is no magic pill for the perfect lawn.
Ideally, you should do a soil test before applying any fertilizer. Some areas have already high levels of phosphorous in the soil. In that case, additional phosphorus is not needed and could cause problems.
What nutrients are in fertilizer and what do they do?
- The first number is always Nitrogen.
- The second number is always Phosphorus.
- The third is always Potassium. This order never changes.
The Three Main Nutrients (N, P, and K) Nitrogen (N) is the main nutrient for new, green growth. Plants that are almost all leaf (such as lawn grasses) need plenty of nitrogen, so the first number is especially high in fertilizers for lawns because grass must continuously renew itself after mowing. The higher the number, the more nitrogen the fertilizer provides.
Phosphorus (P) promotes root development which helps strengthen plants. It also increases blooms on flowers. Lots of phosphorous is great for bulbs, perennials, and newly planted trees and shrubs. They depend on strong roots, so fertilizers meant for these plants often have high middle numbers.
Potassium (K) improves the overall health of plants. It helps them withstand very hot or cold weather and defend against diseases. Most soils already have some potassium, so the third number in the fertilizer analysis is usually smaller than the other two. Fertilizers for some tropical plants, especially palms, contain extra potassium because these plants have a special need for it. Fertilizers meant for fall, such as Winterizer, also contain extra potassium to help prepare plants for cold weather.
Other Important Nutrients Calcium (Ca) improves general plant vigor and promotes growth of young roots and shoots.
Magnesium (Mg) helps regulate uptake of other plant foods and aids in seed formation. It is also important in the dark green color of plants and to the ability of a plant to manufacture food from sunlight.
Sulfur (S) helps maintain a dark green color while encouraging more vigorous plant growth.
Minor, or trace, elements are used in small amounts but still essential to plant health. They help ensure dark green color, vigorous development, and healthy growth. Iron (Fe) is the minor element most often lacking from poor soils. It helps plants maintain a dark green color.
Look carefully at a label to shop wisely for fertilizers. The numbers on the bag tell only part of the story. The most important ingredient, nitrogen, comes in many different forms. That is what distinguishes commodity fertilizers and some slow-release fertilizers from the latest technology.
Below is a chart to give you an idea of when to fertilize and how much N, P, and K should be put on the lawn at that time of year.
Remember Kentucky has cool-season grasses.