If you cast your mind back to your happiest memories, chances are they will be of childhood and spending time in the garden. A lush green lawn, though, requires proper maintenance and we will look today at how to fertilize your lawn the easy way.
If you want healthy and dense turf which is deep green and sees off weeds you will need to take proper care of it. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and give your lawn the attention it deserves.
You should also bear in mind that fertilizing does not only affect the aesthetics but also influences maintenance. The more frequently you fertilize, the more often you will need to mow the lawn.
The ideal timeframe is to fertilize the lawn every 6 to 8 weeks during the active growing period.
Why Should You Fertilize Your Lawn?
Before thinking about how to do anything it's wise to think about the reason why you need to do it.
If you have a turfed lawn, some of the nutrients it requires will be provided by the soil. There are limitations, though. The majority of soil will be unable to give out everything that's needed for the duration of the growing season.
If your lawn is active and healthy it's going to use plenty of energy. It needs a helping hand and this is where fertilizer plays a crucial role. It performs the following important functions:
- Replaces lost nutrients caused by leaching or removal of grass clippings
- Promotes root growth and new leaf
- Helps the lawn to recover from pest damage
- Minimized the effects of foot traffic
- Controls and reduces weeds
As you can see, fertilizing is not a step which is optional. If you want high quality grass you need to invest time and effort.
Before you choose the best type of fertilizer, it's key to prepare first.
Fail to plan and plan to fail.
You need to think about three basic elements before you get down to the business of fertilizing.
- Calculate the lawn size
- Decide what type of grass you have
- Perform a soil test
When you are looking to buy any kind of fertilizer or weed killer, you will see that the majority are sold according to the amount needed to cover a designated square footage. This information will be clearly displayed on the package. The most common sizing of fertilizer bags is either 5000 or 15000.
If Math is not your strong suit, working out square footage couldn't be simpler. Just multiply the length of your lawn by its width. Done.
Note: Don't forget to subtract any areas like paths or driveways which will not need fertilizing.
Type Of Grass
Grass can be classified as either cool season or warm season.
Cool Season Grass
Examples of cool season grass are bentgrass, bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass. In general, these are grown in northern areas. They grow most profusely in fall and spring. In some zones they can grow throughout winter. Fall and spring are therefore the best times to fertilize these cool season grasses. Avoiding fertilization in midsummer as this can actually weaken your lawn.
Warm Season Grass
Southern areas tend to have more warm season grass. Bahia, Bermuda and St Augustine are common types. This will grown most swiftly in warmer weather. Late spring to early fall is the smartest time to feed warm season grass. If you feed it too early then there's a much higher chance of invasive weeds. Leave it too late, though, and the grass is likely to be weaker throughout the winter.
You need to work out the pH level of your soil. This measurement indicates how alkaline or acidic the soil is.
This pH value is important because it determines how well your grass can make use of the ingredients in the fertilizer.
The best move is to bring your soil as near to neutral as possible. This will ensure you maximize the benefit from the fertilizer. Shoot for a range between 6.0 and 7.0 for optimum results.
Choosing a Fertilizer
Now that you are fully prepared, it's time to think about what fertilizer to use.
Lawns differ from plants and resultantly have different needs. This depends upon both the type of grass and the season.
Most fertilizers contain macronutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous in large quantities.
There are also plenty of micronutrients such as boron, chlorine and other minerals.
Your soil test will show you what you need to add to your lawn for best results. If in doubt, consult an expert or do some basic research.
Weed and Feed is a tried and tested fertilizer which also fights against weeds. This will deal with dandelions and all varieties of grassy weeds. Check out the packaging to see if it will counteract the weeds that plague your lawn.
Starter fertilizer, as the name implies, is best for developing lawns. A high phosphorous count helps with this.
There are also organic options. Bone meal and blood meal are both meatpacking by-products and rich in phosphorous. Standard compost can also work wonders.
Aside from this classic fertilizer, you might also consider a winterizer which has particularly elevated potassium levels and assists cool season lawns with the stresses of winter.
How To Fertilize Your Lawn The Easy Way
As mentioned, the fertilizing schedule is dependent upon the type of grass. It is best to feed the lawn while it is actively growing.
Cool Season Grass
Go for a heavy dose of fertilizer in the fall.
In early spring, use a much lighter hand.
These grasses demand most care in the fall. This time of year means that you can avoid the summer heat but also pre-empt the looming frosts. If you want to use a winterizer then this is the best time to apply it. It will help your lawn to flourish in the tougher months to come.
Start your spring fertilizing early. Slow-release or quick-release are equally effective. Just make sure you are all done with your feed before the warmer months arrive.
Warm Season Grass
When you spot the grass turning greener in spring time, it's ready for fertilizing. The main growing season for this type of grass is late spring going into summer.
Make sure that you follow the instructions precisely and, again, avoid extremes of temperature at either end when fertilizing.
Liquid or Granules?
You can apply fertilizer in either form without a problem. Here's how...
- Fill up your canister with liquid fertilizer
- Attach unit to the end of your hose
- Move around spraying the lawn evenly from side to side
- Ensure that both the fertilizer and the spreader are dry
- Check the instructions on the bag and set the rate-of-flow level accordingly. Less is more
- Shut up the hopper vent. Put your spreader onto a flat, hard surface then slowly fill up the hopper
- One good idea is to halve the recommended application rate. This is not only more economical but will ensure even coverage. When you are applying the granule use a criss-cross action
- Thoroughly clean your spreader after use
- Take care to clean any surplus fertilizer from paved areas
- Get a dust mask and goggles to protect you while fertilizing. It's also a smart move to wear long pants and sleeves as well as rubber boots
- Make sure that no people or pets get onto the grass for 24 hours after fertilizing
- Don't carry out the task on windy days
Well, hopefully by now you will understand the importance of fertilizing if you want a bountiful lawn.
You need to set and adhere to a schedule and make sure that you take the above factors into account to reap maximum dividends.
And now that you have your lawn in tip-top shape, you just need to take care that it's not assailed by weeds and pests. We will have a look at this issue in a forthcoming article.
Enjoy your garden and give your lawn the care necessary for it to serve you well.