Fertilizing your lawn means you’ve come into your own. It’s the rite of passage few talk about, and even fewer achieve. Fertilizer keeps grass healthy and green, and helps prevent weed growth. But…who teaches us these things? Read on and find the mystery of lawn fertilization revealed…
- Fertilizer Spreader
Step 1: Choose a Fertilizer
Finding the right fertilizer for your lawn is not only the first step, but can also be the hardest. Fertilizers come in different forms, and pack different nutrient punches for different types of grass. Here’s a quick run-down, but please…ask your Waters lawn expert. They know what they’re doing and want to help you cross over into the world of fertilizer.
Smart Tip: Take a picture of your grass up close and far away…bring it into our lawn experts and let them turn that weedy sparse lawn into the lush little thing it’s been dying to become.
The most common types of fertilizers are: granular and liquid.
Granular fertilizer, the most commonly used, is often slow-releasing and can provide nutrients for up to six months. Spread granular fertilizer with a broadcast spreader. This particular type of spreader covers the most area evenly and quickly. You can also spread granular fertilizer by hand or with a hand spreader. This is ideal for small areas of turf where a broadcast spreader would deliver too much fertilizer for the area.
Liquid fertilizers usually are quickly absorbed into the soil and easy to use with a garden hose or spray bottle. Both types come in organic and synthetic formulations. Note that synthetic fertilizers usually don’t work as long as organic choices but often work quicker. To apply liquid fertilizer, follow manufacturer’s instructions on how to prepare the fertilizer (they require dilution). Turn on the water to your hose and then open the valve on the fertilizer bottle. Walk at a slow, steady pace to cover the entire lawn evenly, spraying from side to side.
A balanced lawn fertilizer contains equal proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (don’t fall asleep on me!). This is indicated by the nutrient ratios on the package. For example: 10-10-10. This particular ratio indicates that it is a good, general-purpose lawn fertilizer formula. Some types of grass in particular regions may require different formulations. For example, some lawns may not need much or any of a particular nutrient, such as phosphorus. In these situations, an unbalanced fertilizer is appropriate. (Remember – you don’t have to do this alone! Come into Waters and we’ll walk you through it.)
Now, to help you feel really competent:
- Nitrogen helps grass stay green and thick and is the most important of the nutrients to help grass grow well.
- Phosphorus keeps grass roots healthy and strong.
- Potassium keeps grass blades strong and resilient, protecting them from drought and damage from insects and disease.
Helpful Tips: To ensure you are using the correct type of fertilizer, purchase a soil testing kit to determine your soil’s pH and existing nutrient levels. Use a “starter” fertilizer for lawns less than two years old.
You should fertilize your lawn at the very least once a year. Ideally though, you should fertilize at least twice — once in the fall, at the end of the growing season and once in the spring, before growing season. Some lawns may require an application in the middle of the growing season.
Step 2: Apply!
Measure your yard in square feet. Instructions on the fertilizer package will inform you of how many pounds or ounces (for liquid fertilizers) per square feet need to be applied. For reference, 10 lbs. per 1,000 sq. feet is a common application.
If using granular fertilizer, don’t fill the spreader hopper over your lawn (been there, done that). The fertilizer can spill, and in high concentrations, actually harm the grass instead of helping it.
Apply the fertilizer in the same way you would mow your lawn. The fertilizer drops from the hopper and is dispersed as you move. Keep a slow, steady pace. Read your spreader’s manufacturer’s instructions for exact directions on how to use it. Many models allow you to set the amount that is dispersed. Be careful that you don’t over-fertilize by checking the fertilizer package to verify the recommended spreader setting.
See, there’s nothing to it really. And a good rule of thumb is to just start. Your grass wants fertilizer. It will love you for trying. And when in doubt, stop by and see us, that’s what we’re here for!