GARDEN BLOG

Fertilizer for Lawns – What Type of Fertilizer Should I Use?

A beautiful lawn can be a valuable addition to your home. A visually appealing, water-efficient, and functional lawn improves the aesthetic appeal of your home and can significantly increase its value. You cannot create your lawn and hope it sustains itself. Every now and then, we hear stories of beautiful lawns falling into disrepair because their owners did not perform the proper maintenance on them. To maintain a healthy lawn, you need to fertilize your lawn. Remember, the key to a lush lawn is applying the right fertilizer at the right time.

Do a Soil Test

Prior to fertilizing your lawn, perform a soil test. A simple soil test will reveal the soil pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels as well as micronutrients present. The pH of a soil is important for the proper uptake of nutrients by lawn roots especially the micronutrients. If your soil’s pH level is below 5.5, add a mixture of fertilizer and lime to lower the acidity towards 6.5-7 which is the sweet spot for most lawns. If, however, the pH of your soils 7.5 or above, add a mixture of fertilizer and sulfur to reduce its alkaline levels. In fact, if your soil pH is at the ends of the spectrum applying fertilizer may not produce results. Remember the pH of the soil and nutrients present under the lawn will determine what type and how much fertilizer to use.

Understand Fertilizer Labels

It’s important that you understand what fertilizer labels mean. Most lawn fertilizers contain three nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK). The NPK listed on a fertilizer bag indicates the percentage of these nutrients. If, for instance, the NPK of fertilizer is 10-10-10, it contains 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus, and 10 percent potassium. These three nutrients play different roles.

  • Nitrogen promotes healthy growth
  • Phosphorus nourishes the root system
  • Potassium boosts overall health, improves resistance, and cold tolerance

Fertilizer Types

Slow-release: these are typically granular fertilizers available in different time-release formulas (a special technology designed to release small amounts of the fertilizer over a period of time – traditionally based upon soil temperature and water applied). A major benefit of slow-release fertilizers is that they allow you to have more even control over your lawn feeding schedule.

Organic: Organic fertilizers, as the name suggests, are 100 percent natural. You can make your own organic fertilizer at home. Organic fertilizers can help improve soil structure. They are sustainable, environmentally friendly, and contain organic matter that helps microbes thrive. Like all fertilizers, as organic fertilizers break down, they release nutrients back into the soil. The major benefit of organics is the better way they interact with the soil biome in and below the lawn and are overall much better for the environment.

Synthetic: Synthetic fertilizers are made from synthetic materials, mainly from the petrochemical industry such as inorganic waste matter and minerals. They are water-soluble and are quickly absorbed by plants. The major benefit of synthetic fertilizer is it is lower cost and usually results in a quicker response by the lawn sometimes to the detriment of the natural soil biome.

Liquid: Liquid fertilizers are just that – liquid-based. They contain water-soluble nitrogen that is rapidly absorbed into grass typically at lower levels than granular forms and is taken up directly through plant tissue. Sonoma County landscapers usually use liquid fertilizers when a rapid response in growth and color is desired.

Fertilization Tips

  • Always fertilize in overlapping patterns. For every vertical pass, remember to make a horizontal pass.
  • Fertilize when the grass is moist and water in immediately after application.
  • Sweep to remove any fertilizer granules that may have been spread onto hardscaped areas as some fertilizers will stain.
  • Clean the spreader before storing it after fertilizing your lawn.

Is your lawn a mess? Let Gardenworks Inc. help you restore it to its former glory. Over the years, our landscapers have helped homeowners all over Sonoma County revive their old lawns and build new ones from scratch. Our ability to come up with functional and beautiful landscape designs sets us apart. Discuss your landscaping project with an expert, call us at (707) 857-2050.