How to fertilize your green lawn?

BY
Livvy
/
/
in
Gardening

Your green healthy lawn is a great place for kids and dogs to entertain guests or simply just relax and enjoy. One of the key factors in maintaining a healthy lawn is proper fertilization. Fertilizers provide essential nutrients to the soil, promoting vibrant green color and strong growth.

Unfortunately, most homeowners are not a big fan of lawn fertilization because they are not familiar with which products to use, or how and when to apply them. And complicating the issue is that lawn fertilizer can do more harm than good if applied incorrectly.

The following points and procedures of focus will summarize the critical aspects of lawn fertilization,

 

  • What are the different types of fertilizer?

 

Fertilizers can be categorized into several types based on their composition, nutrient content, and application method. Some of them are,

1. Granular fertilizer-- Granular lawn fertilizer is a dry fertilizer that typically comes in the shape of pellets. These fertilizers are slow-release fertilizers which means they release nutrients slowly over an extended period. They provide a continuous supply of nutrients to plants and reduce the risk of nutrient leaking.

2. Liquid fertilizer--  Liquid fertilizer is often available as a liquid concentrate that the handler must dilute with water. Most liquid lawn fertilizers are quick-release solutions, which means they’ll supply nutrients to the grass immediately after application. They can be applied to lawns through foliar spray or irrigation systems. Also, it is beneficial for struggling lawns that require immediate attention.

3. Organic fertilizers-- These fertilizers are derived from natural sources, such as animal manure, compost( food leftovers, vegetables), bone meal, and fish emulsion. They provide a slow release of nutrients and also improve soil fertility and structure.

4. Elements Fertilizer-- These fertilizers contain a balanced combination of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. They are often labeled with three numbers indicating the percentage of each nutrient (N-P-K ratio). Most lawns do well with a 3:1:2 or 4:1:2 NPK ratio fertilizer.

 

  • When is the finest time of day to fertilize your lawn?

 

The best time to fertilize a lawn is in the early morning (6 – 9 AM) when temperatures are cooler or on a cloudy day when the grass is wet or at least damp and with more rain promised. Morning hours tend to have lower wind speeds and less direct sunlight compared to the afternoon. High temperatures during the day can increase the risk of fertilizer damage.

Important tip-- Do not fertilize a lawn when the ground is frozen or in drought. Roots will not be able to absorb the fertilizer cause after applying fertilizer your lawn needs plenty of water. Also, it contains nitrogen that can burn your turf, especially when applied during hot, dry periods.

These upcoming procedures will showcase how to fertilize your lawn professionally,

 

  • Do a soil test

 

Performing a soil test is crucial to determine the nutrient (NPK) levels and pH balance of your lawn's soil. You can purchase a soil testing kit or send a soil sample to your local county extension office will provide you with the most detailed results. The best time to test your soil is early spring just before your lawn comes out of dormancy.

Most of the lawn grasses have a soil pH in the range of 6.5 to 7.0. If the soil pH is too low, you may need to add limestone to raise the value and if higher than 7.5, you can apply sulfur to your lawn.

 

  • Know your grass

 

The type of grass you have will determine what type of fertilizer you need to use, and how often you need to fertilize. You likely have cool-season grasses if you live up north. Or south, where summer is scorching, you likely grow warm-season grasses. Between the northern and southern states lies the Transition Zone, where both summer and winter are extreme. If you live in the Transition Zone, you might be growing either warm- or cool-season grass.

The best time of year to fertilize warm-season grass is in early summer or late spring and the best time to fertilize cool-season grass is early fall.

 

  • Measure your lawn

 

It’s common for homeowners to over-apply fertilizer, which can harmfully affect their turf and the surroundings. You'll need to know the square footage to buy the right amount of fertilizer. Multiply the length of your yard by its width to find out the square footage. Make sure you subtract the areas that won't need to be fertilized, like your home and any landscaped areas.

An example using rough measurements:

Lawn: 250 x 100 ft. = 25,000 sq. ft.

House: 85 x 30 ft. = 2,550 sq. ft.

Driveway: 12 x 40 ft. = 480 sq. ft.

Total = 21,970 sq. ft.

 

  • Select the right fertilizer

 

There are three primary nutrients that your lawns require: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). You need to look for a balanced fertilizer with these nutrients in a ratio suitable for your grass type. For example, a fertilizer labeled as 20-5-10 (N-P-K) ratio means it contains 20 % nitrogen, 5 % phosphate, and 10 % potassium.

There are different types of fertilizer to choose from, and it's good to do a little research before picking one.

 

 

1. Slow-release fertilizers provide nutrients gradually over an extended period. They are advantageous as they prevent nutrient overload, reduce the risk of burning the grass, and promote steady growth. Look for fertilizers labeled as slow-release or granular fertilizers for best results. 

2. You can get liquid fertilizers also work quickly, but they're also absorbed quickly so they need to be reapplied every few weeks.

3. You can also choose organic fertilizer as well. They are safer to use and will not harm your lawn like some conventional fertilizers will, especially during the hot summer months. Quality organic fertilizers will contain meal-based nutrients (blood meal, fish meal, bone meal) or some may contain poultry litter.

 

  • Prepare your lawn

 

It's best to fertilize a lawn when it's been prepped in advance. First, you need to mow your lawn before fertilizing it. Once mown, remove any weeds and dethatch them if necessary. Give your lawn a thorough watering a couple of days before you fertilize otherwise, the grass will not absorb the nutrients you add to it.

 

  • Obtain the proper equipment for even distribution

 

There are the tools you can use to spread granular fertilizer:

1. Broadcast spreader

2. Drop spreader

3. Hand-held spreader

 

  • A broadcast spreader is a better choice than a drop spreader for homeowners. It is suitable for larger lawns with even distribution. Broadcast or rotary spreaders are easy to use and don’t cause striping like drop spreaders.
  • Drop spreaders can be very useful when covering small lawns, you have to make two trips over the lawn at right angles.
  • A hand-held spreader is an excellent tool for fertilizing tight or small spaces in the yard. It is particularly useful for fertilizing narrow side yards, and grassy areas along fence lines, around trees.

 

Cover your entire yard with the fertilizer. Be careful about not overlapping or skipping areas. Regardless of what type of spreader you use, be sure to walk at a consistent, steady pace as you apply the fertilizer.

Important tip— Always wear safety gear (eye protection, mask, rubber boots, and gloves) when applying the fertilizers. Keep people and pets off the grass for the time indicated in the instructions. Always shut the hopper when you stop and turn to prevent a fertilizer pile.

 

  • Clean up the excess fertilizer

 

Once you’re done fertilizing, take a broom or leaf blower and blow any excess fertilizer that landed on the driveway or sidewalk. It can be helpful to your neighbors and the environment to sweep up excess granules. You can place it back into the bag for further use. 

 

  • Water your lawn

 

Watering helps the soil absorb the fertilizer so your lawn will begin seeing its benefits right away. Water your lawn regularly, but avoid overwatering, as it can wash away the applied fertilizer. Aim for around one inch of water per week, including rainfall, and adjust based on your grass type and local climate.

 

  • Follow a regular maintenance schedule

 

Fertilization is just one aspect of lawn care. Regular mowing, aeration, and proper weed control are equally important for maintaining a healthy lawn. Create a complete upkeep plan to address all these aspects and ensure your lawn remains green and vibrant.

 How often should you fertilize a lawn?

 

Fertilizer should be applied three times a year from March to October when the grass is actively growing, but lawns should be watered more regularly, particularly during the summer months.

1. Early spring- Between February and April, apply a balanced fertilizer with a higher nitrogen ratio to promote healthy green growth as the grass enters its active growing phase. The best time for lawn fertilization is in the spring when the soil temperature reaches 55◦ Fahrenheit.

2. Late spring- Between April and June apply another round of fertilizer to support the lawn's growth during the warmer months. Consider using a slow-release fertilizer to sustain nutrient availability over a more extended period.

3. Early summer- Feeding in the early summer helps strengthen the lawn so it can better withstand the heat and drought conditions that summer is famous for. Water your lawn sufficiently after fertilization.

4. Early fall- Between August and November, grass slows down and prepares for the winter months. During this time, use a higher phosphorus and potassium ratio nutrients to promote root development, strengthen the lawn, and prepare it for winter.

Important tip-- Avoid applying fertilizers when plants are dormant or under extreme heat and drought stress.

 

 What are the alternatives to chemical lawn fertilizers?

Organic fertilizers are becoming more popular with lawn owners because of the idea that they are more environmentally friendly. Organic fertilizers are available in the same forms as chemical ones, so you don’t need to worry about needing special equipment for them.

 

 

A complete natural organic lawn food like food compost and contain meal-based nutrients like fish, bone, and feather meals. It’s best to apply these fertilizers during the growing months, from May through September, depending on where you live. They are safer to use and will not harm your lawn like some chemical fertilizers, especially during the hot summer. Organics help feed your lawn by stimulating microbial activity in your soil, creating a healthier medium in which your grass can grow. However, they work a bit slower, so you’ll need patience.

 

---- The procedures above ensure that you have the proper knowledge to maintain your lawn’s nutritional requirements. You can promote lush growth and vibrant color by understanding your lawn's needs, choosing the right fertilizer, and following proper application techniques.