More and more people these days are gardening.
Gardening is a versatile hobby. You can relax, get some gentle exercise and also enjoy very visible rewards. With a little effort you can claim yourself a striking space full of bright plants.
Last week, we started a series on lawn care for beginners. Now you know how to mow and water your grass for best results, it’s time to think about giving it a helping hand with some feed.
Fertilizing is a broad topic. We looked here at some basics. Today we’ll give you some more valuable information to help you fertilize your lawn the right way.
When To Fertilize Your Lawn
As spring rolls around once again, it’s time to start fertilizing your lawn.
With the grass growing and lilacs blossoming some time in mid-April, you’re good to go.
If you consult the label of the fertilizer pack, it should give some guidance on best scheduling practice. Alternate monthly feeds amounting to perhaps 3-5 applications over the growing season is a rough benchmark.
Think About The Numbers
This great article explains the numbers displayed on packs of fertilizer in detail.
You will see 3 numbers which relate to the percentage of the following…
They are always displayed in the same order so you know where you stand.
A 10-5-10 bag, for example, will have 10% nitrogen, only 5% phosphorus and 10% potassium. The remaining 75% of the bag is inert filler. This is designed to facilitate even application of the fertilizer.
10-10-10 fertilizer is very common as an all-purpose fertilizer with balanced nicely balanced quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Slow-Release Fertilizer: A Smart Choice
Using slow-release fertilizer means you can go longer between feeds.
The nutrients break down slowly so you can reduce fertilizing to 8 weeks instead of 4 weeks.
For some gardeners, this labor-saving alone makes slow-release fertilizer the go-to option.
Go for a mix with enough nitrogen but not too much. Less is more. An excess of nitrogen in the mix will make the grass grow quicker with no additional benefit. You’ll just need to mow more without reaping any rewards.
Watering with Fertilizing
If you water your lawn more, you’ll need to fertilize it more. More growth calls out for more nutrients.
With a sprinkler system in place, you’ll want to fertilize every six weeks or so. Without, 8 weeks is fine between feeds.
Our first lawn care for beginners article deals with watering your lawn in more detail.
Less is More With Fertilizer
When you start off fertilizing, half the suggested rates on the pack.
Fertilize in one direction using half the recommended amount then repeat in the opposite direction.
Taking this approach leads to a far better chance of even coverage. It will also reduce the likelihood of damage through over-application.
Fertilize the edges first then fill in the middle.
How To Apply Lawn Fertilizer
Now you have a good overview of what a good fertilizing routine looks like, it’s time to feed your lawn.
Using a spreader beats fertilizing by hand.
Broadcast and rotary spreaders are simple to use. Drop spreaders are more volatile and more expensive.
After you have filled your chosen spreader, the liquid or granules will be dispersed as above in no time.
Everyone wants to minimize the amount of work they need to put in gardening. Grasscycling is one way to provide your lawn with up to one-quarter of it’s fertilizing needs.
Leave the grass clippings on the lawn after you have mowed. Grass clippings on a large scale can produce a fair amount of nitrogen.
You could think about using a mulching blade on your mower to serve up small pieces and speed up decomposition.
Organic lawn care can be as simple as using compost to supplement the nitrogen levels in your grass.
Compost will reach the grass roots nice and slowly. This prevents excessive nitrogen leaching and is an excellent way to boost the nitrogen content naturally.
Aerating The Soil
Fertilizing is highly effective when carried out after aeration.
With lawn aeration, holes are created in the soil. This will expose the root zone. Air, fertilizer and water can then gain access directly to the roots.
A core aerator is an efficient tool. It pulls out plugs of soil.
If the thatch layer grows to more than 1/2 inch, aerate and fertilize directly afterward.
Types of Grass and Fertilizing
There are 2 main types of grass:
- Warm-Season Grass
- Cool-Season Grass
Timing of fertilizing varies slightly according to the type.
Fertilizing Warm-Season Grass
Time the onset of fertilizing with the start of the peak growing phase of your grass.
This will generally be in late spring or early summer.
If your warm season grass happens to go dormant over winter, stop fertilizing after September.
Fertilizing Cool-Season Grass
You want to start fertilizing cool-season grass at the start of fall.
There is a body of opinion to suggest that cool-season grass can get away with a single application of fertilizer. Make your own mind up if you think that is enough or if you need to top it up.
October or November is generally the best time to get going with feeding your cool-season grass.
You want to make sure you get in quickly enough with your fertilizer to avoid the discoloration that can be caused by cold weather.
We hope you have found this continuation of lawn care for beginners has given you some handy hints when it comes to fertilizing your lawn.
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Now get the right fertilizer for the job and give your lawn the helping hand it needs!