All About Lawn Fertilizer
Lawn fertilizer is the first thing we think of when is comes to a green lawn. Thatching and aerating helps, but doesn’t produce the lush green that we want. When looking for a google fertilizer, look for the symbols NPK. These main nutrients are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Each chemical you add uses a certain percentage and you really need to know what kind before you buy. As a rule of thumb, each fertilizer you put down should have no more than one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet. When looking at the product, you will see that Nitrogen is higher than all the rest at 0 – 20, Phosphorus is lowest at 0 – 10 and Potassium is 0 – 20. The average mix is around 20/4/12 ratio but many manufacturers place 3/1/2, 4/1/2 or 5/1/2. If it is anywhere over that, you could seriously burn your lawn if you don’t know what you are doing.
Testing the soil should be a big priority. Hardly anyone does it, which is a big mistake. The soil test measures the nutrients for proper root development by looking at the NPK balance. This stage needs to be professionally done by pulling 10 random samples from your lawn about 4 inches deep. If after the test, your pH balance is too low or too high, the fertilizing will not work really well. A good balance is around 6.5 to 7.0. Lower than that, the lawn would need to be sweetened with lime. Any higher, the lawn needs sulfur to bring it back down. Testing annually until the lawn is perfect is a good idea. After which you will not need to do it for a while (3 years or more) because the lawn will be lush and green. Obviously, you should not collect samples after fertilizing. Spring time is perfect for sampling. Any time after means your lawn came out of dormancy and readings can be off.
Using a lawn fertilizer at the wrong times also can burn your lawn. In example, make sure you fertilize around spring time when the temperatures are around 55 or mid-April time frame. Better avoid fertilizing during a drought, brown lawn or withered grass from no moisture. Start 3 days before with heavy watering, wait for the grass to dry then apply using either a broadcast, rotary spreader, drop spreader or handheld pre-calibrated battery powered spreader. After you fertilize, spread more water to make sure the chemicals get mixed around. Grasscycling after you fertilize will save you from doing it again. In example, the grass clippings have all that nitrogen you just gave your lawn. A few days after you fertilize, do not pick up the grass clippings. Some buy a special mulching mower to make the clippings smaller but it isn’t needed.
Aeration should be done the following day after you apply. Soil aeration pulls plugs from the soil exposing the roots of the grass. The clippings will fall inside giving the nitrogen back, and air will give much needed oxygen if the thatch layer is too thick. Another rule of thumb is to aerate when the thatch is half an inch thick. Make sure you do not guess how much fertilizer to use and what settings on the spreader. Do not apply more than 4 times a year or use a drop spreader on bigger lawns. If you apply it near water features, frozen ground or hard surfaces, it will not do any good and again, make sure you do not bag your clippings for a few weeks after to take advantage of the nitrogen. By now, if you have read this article properly and followed every step, you should know all about lawn fertilizer and should be enjoying a beautiful lawn.
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