Lawn Care Part 2 The Right Fertilizer

Residential lawn fertilizers are typically “lower in analysis” than “commercial chemical-type fertilizers”.? Analysis refers to the three numbers you find listed on fertilizers. Those three numbers represent nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in that order. The numbers tell you the percentage of those ingredients in the product by weight. But what do these letters and numbers add up to for the look of your lawn?

Lawn fertilizers are packaged so that the right amount of nutrients is applied per 1,000 square feet. Experts recommend no more than 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for each application. Therefore a 5 pound bag of 20-4-12 (containing 20 percent nitrogen) will apply 1 pound of nitrogen to 1000 square feet. A 5000 square foot lawn would require 25 pounds of 20-4-12.

Several types of fertilizers are available for lawns. A starter fertilizer which has less nitrogen and more phosphorus, is designed for new lawns to get the roots off to a good start. Some chemical lawn fertilizers contain fast-release forms of nitrogen such as urea or ammonium sulfate. This rapidly-dissolving nitrogen causes lawn to green up quickly, but leaches out of the soil within a few weeks, leaving your grass hungry for more. Slow-release fertilizers are more appropriate for once- or twice-a-year applications. They are formulated to feed grass over time with slow, consistent supplies of nutrients. Synthetic slow-release fertilizers generally contain sulfur- or polymer-coated ureas. There are also many slow-release organic fertilizers available. Organic fertilizers keep your lawn growing at a healthy pace without harming the environment or beneficial soil organisms like earthworms. A good organic lawn fertilizer has a ratio of about 3:1:2.

It is important here to know that nitrogen is toxic to horses and other grazing animals. Lawn weed control products and lawn fertilizers can not be used on grasses that are being grazed. If you truly need to graze your lawn, then you should manage it as a pasture and only use agricultural fertilizers and herbicides that are labeled for pasture use.

Lawn fertilizers are also commonly mixed with herbicides to reduce the labor involved in lawn maintenance. Care should be used in applying these products. Fertilization should be a regular lawn maintenance practice, but herbicides should be used only when specific weed problems occur. A problem with combination products that occurs is that fertilizers should be watered in the following and application for maximum effectiveness and slow burn potential. Many herbicides need to remain on the plant leaves for effective weed control. Using combination fertilizer-herbicide products, you often compromise the effectiveness of one or both products from timing or application standpoint, or both. The one possible exception is the use of fertilizer in combination with a pre-emergence crabgrass killer. If the lawn had received a fall application of fertilizer, then the timing for any spring application of fertilizer and the need to put down a pre-emergent crabgrass preventer could be about the same time. Finally, in an average home lawn, rarely is it ever necessary to broadcast an herbicide over the entire lawn area unless weed problems have gotten completely out of control. It is much better to fertilize separately and only spot treat certain areas or individual plants when necessary. This introduces far less herbicide into the environment and eliminates wasting an herbicide application when there are only a few scattered plants or areas that may need treating.

Another important note about fertilizing that should not be minimized is that returning mulched clippings to your lawn rather than bagging and disposing of them reduces the need for lawn fertilizer by 30 to 50 percent.

Precision Lawn Care is ready to take care of your lawn for you. Call us at? (770) 979-5171 or click here and complete the form selecting the Lawn Care & Tree and Shrub Service box.

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