Fertilizer can make your lawn lush, green, and healthy all year. But finding the right one for your lawn can be complicated. Here are 3 things that will help you learn what you need to know to pick the best fertilizer for your lawn.
1: Test your Soil
Test the pH level of your soil. You can do this with a soil tester or soil testing kit. For lawns, the ideal soil pH is between 5.5 and 7.0. If you have a low pH level (below 5.5), you should apply a lime fertilizer. If you have high pH (above 7.0), do a treatment of sulfur fertilizer or soil acidifier.
2: Know your Lawn
Many fertilizers are made to help prevent specific lawn problems. There’s one to repel bugs, one designed to stop weeds, and others for pretty much any problem your lawn could have. It’s also important to know what type of grass your lawn is made of, since different kinds of grass need different amounts of certain nutrients.
In order to pick the right fertilizer, you have to know what problems your lawn faces. Every lawn is different, and diagnosing lawn problems can be hard, but Blain’s Farm & Fleet can help. Once you’ve tested your soil, identified your grass type, and diagnosed any problems your lawn has or has had, you’re ready to talk fertilizer.
Without knowing your lawn, you won’t be able to figure out which fertilizer you need, how much to use, or how often to use it. A little homework can save your lawn from a lot of problems that can come from misusing fertilizer.
3: Know your Fertilizers
When you go to buy fertilizer, you’ll probably notice the numbers on the bag or bottle. Those numbers tell you how much of the three main plant nutrients are mixed into the fertilizer in the bag. The “big three” lawn nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. The numbers will always be in that order on the bag or bottle. So a “28-0-3” fertilizer has 28% nitrogen, 0% phosphorous, and 3% potassium.
Each of the big three helps your grass in a different way. Nitrogen helps your grass grow more quickly and gives it better color. Phosphorous helps your lawn grow strong, thick roots. Potassium makes your grass stronger by increasing its ability to resist disease, drought, and cold weather. The best fertilizer for maintaining a lawn that doesn’t have any noticeable problems is one that has a good balance of the big three.
If your lawn has problems with drought and seems to start withering as soon as you turn the sprinkler off, you probably need fertilizer with a lot of phosphorous and potassium to make your grass stronger and deepen your roots. Different types of grass need different amounts of the big three. You can change the amount of one or more of them to help fight lawn problems, too.
If your lawn is a dull shade of green even when it’s well-watered and otherwise healthy, it probably needs a fertilizer with more nitrogen.
If your lawn is prone to insects, you’ll want to go with a fertilizer with insect control. If you have a lot of weed problems, there are fertilizers with weed control, too. Fungus problems are a little different, because you’ll have to use a separate fungicide treatment to combat and prevent them. Sometimes fertilizer alone isn’t enough to keep your lawn healthy. You can learn more about fungicides on our blog.
Also, it’s important to consider whether you’re getting a quick-release, slow-release, or organic fertilizer. Quick-release fertilizers give the quickest results, but also are the most likely to burn your grass. Slow-release fertilizers give you more gradual results, but are gentler on your lawn. Organic fertilizers are the most gentle type, but often work the slowest. Choose the type that works best for your lawn.
Tips for Applying Fertilizer
The best time to fertilize your lawn is in the fall. This is because the sun and heat don’t scorch and evaporate away as much of the nutrients before the grass can absorb them. Spring is the second best time to fertilize.
Always make sure to apply fertilizer as evenly as possible. A lawn spreader is the best way to do this. An even layer of fertilizer will keep your lawn growing evenly. It will also prevent burn marks or streaks.
Be sure to follow the instructions on the bag or bottle of the fertilizer. This will help keep it from damaging your lawn.