Fertilizing Your Lawn

Nitrogen:

  • essential for growth of foliage;

  • produces lush, tender, green leaves (or grass blades);

  • deficiency results in a yellow-green color (chlorosis) and little or no growth;

  • is easily flushed through the soil. 

 

Phosphorous:

  • stimulates root growth;

  • hastens the maturity of plants;

  • promotes development of flowers, fruits, seeds;

  • deficiency can result in slow or stunted growth and purplish discoloration on leaves;

  • remains in the soil quite well.

 

Potassium:

  • gives vigor to tolerate changing weather conditions;

  • helps resist disease;

  • assists in the food manufacturing process;

  • strengthens cell wall structure for strong stems;

  • deficiency can cause week stems and slow growth;

  • leaches from the soil, not so fast as nitrogen.

Look at the current status of your lawn. 

An Established Lawn:


needs primarily nitrogen, since it is not producing any fruit or flowers. Nitrogen is the least expensive of the nutrients. Don’t buy a formula that has high phosphorous or potassium when you don’t need them. eg. 20-6-6

A New Lawn:


is special and needs more phosphorous to produce roots. Don’t use high nitrogen because the roots are not ready to handle top growth. Phosphorous and potassium are more costly, so you would not use this all the time. Yet, investing in the more expensive list of ingredients for a new or damaged lawn is wise. eg. 6-20-20

New Sod:

 
Be safe when you fertilize new sod! It looks like a mature lawn, but the roots have been shaved off and it needs to recover. Save the expense of redoing this huge project. You can kill the young lawn with the wrong blend. Avoid stress and later expensive problems by helping the grass get established properly. eg. 6-20-20

A Stressed Lawn: 


(e.g. - preparing for winter or extreme heat) needs more potassium. 
When the grass has stressful conditions to deal with, applying the more expensive potassium can prevent problems from developing or continuing. Pay now and don’t pay later.

Thus, if the fertilizer with higher numbers in the ratio is on sale, and your lawn would benefit from those nutrients, then you can apply it with confidence, knowing you got a good deal. 

Be cautious though, about applying high phosphorous continually to a lawn area. Mature grass doesn’t need it, and the environment doesn’t either.

NOTES of Caution:
  • More is not better. Excessive amounts of fertilizer can result in burnt spots on your lawn. 

  • Always follow the directions on the package label.

  • Use care to avoid spilling fertilizers.
     

  • Never fertilize a wet or dew covered lawn.  If a lawn is wet when fertilized, the result is usually burning of the grass due to the granules sticking to the blades and dissolving on them rather than into the soil.  To avoid dark streaks, and assure more even distribution, apply half of the needed fertilizer in two opposite directions on your lawn.   ie: north-to-south direction, and then apply the other half in an east-to-west direction.

**Important:

  • Water your lawn for about an hour, immediately after applying granular fertilizer.  
    The granules will then dissolve and carry the nutrients to the roots of the grass where it is needed.

Controlling Disease

Healthy sod will withstand infestation and recover faster than neglected sod. Here are some guides for healthy turf: 
 

  1. Use enough fertilizer to keep grass growing vigorously - but avoid the extreme of over stimulation. 

  2. Mow before the grass gets too tall. 

  3. Cut no more than one inch of the leaf surface at any one time. 

  4. Keep your mower sharp. 

  5. Don't allow clippings to accumulate to the extent that they form a mat. 

  6. Remove thatch as required. 

  7. Avoid frequent waterings which tend to keep the grass wet.

Mowing

Mowing your lawn properly is one of the easiest things you can do to improve the look and health of your lawn. Here are a couple of key points that many people tend to neglect. Proper mowing will make a good lawn look better, improper mowing can ruin a good lawn in just a few weeks. 

The most important point to remember is to keep the mower blades sharp. Nothing defaces grass more quickly than a dull mower. If the blade is not sharp it will tear the grass instead of cutting it. This not only allows diseases to enter but will make the tip of the leaf blade turn brown which in turn can make your whole lawn look brown. 

Never take more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off at one given time. If you take more than 1/3 off the leaf blade it; puts the plant under stress, makes it more susceptible to diseases, and can thin the lawn over time. Be sure not to let your lawn grow so tall that it falls over, for it will be difficult to mow and it will smother itself out. We recommend mowing of Kentucky Bluegrasses at 2 1/4 inches tall but no lower than 1 1/2 inches and not over 3 inches high. You can determine the height of your mower blade by placing it on a driveway or sidewalk, and measuring the distance between the blade and the sidewalk. 

We do not just mow our home lawns on that special given day once a week. We check to see how much the grass has grown and mow accordingly. By keeping an eye on this you’ll rarely have to rake clippings which can smother a lawn. This also means that you may not need to mow as much in the dry summer time because it does not grow as quickly.

Weed Control

The best weed control is a good, healthy turf. When your lawn is thick and vigorous, weeds simply have no place to get started and you have fewer problems.