Lawns can grow and survive with only the nutrients provided by the soil or amendments when first installed, but to help your lawn look amazing, regular lawn feedings should be a part of your routine maintenance. By doing this, your lawn will become thicker and greener and unwelcome weeds and moss are less likely to take hold.
How often you fertilize your lawn will affect both its appearance and maintenance level. For example, the more you fertilize, the more you’ll need to mow your lawn. When using fertilizer, you’ll need to decide which type to use.
Printed on fertilizer labels are three digits known as the N-P-K ratio, these numbers stand for the percentage of basic nutrients (N for Nitrogen, P for Phosphorus and K for Potassium) the fertilizer contains. For example, if a fertilizers N-P-K ratio is 12-0-10, it contains 12 percent nitrogen, no phosphorus and 10 percent potassium.
Nitrogen helps plants stay green, phosphorus promotes root growth (though controversial due to its tendency to contaminate water) and potassium guards against drought and disease. Depending on the type of turf you have, one combination will work better than others. Check the package against your grass species to ensure it has the optimal nutrient balance for your turf’s specific needs.
Once you ascertain your best N-P-K ratio, it’s time to decide between synthetic or organic fertilizer. Synthetic varieties are engineered from minerals, gasses and even waste with the intent of delivering fast results- sometimes in a matter of days. The downside to synthetic fertilizer is their reputation for “burning” (i.e. killing) grass if used in a heavy-handed manner. They can also pose environmental damage and health risks if they leach into the local water supply, because of this many prefer the use of organic fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers are made from living organisms- anything from cottonseed or peat moss to bat poop and blood or bone meal. Organic fertilizers usually take a bit longer to work their magic- often a few weeks before results are visible. Although they require a bit of patience, the environmental and health risks are low.
Now that you’ve decided between synthetic and organic fertilizer, there are two types of formulas you can choose from, liquid and granular. Liquid fertilizer tends to require more frequent application than granular but is an effective way to see quick results. Granular fertilizer operates in a slow-release fashion, taking up to a month or longer to deliver noticeable results but requiring less frequent follow up. Granular fertilizer also poses far less of a health risk overall, so it’s generally a better option unless you’re not willing to wait a few weeks before your yard starts to green up.
Note: Make sure to follow the directions from the manufacturer on best feeding schedules.