The trick to having a beautifully lush lawn is to apply the right fertiliser at the right time. Fertilization goes a long way in maintaining a good quality lawn or improving a poor-quality lawn. More than any other management practice fertilization is key to having a long-lasting lawn.
Proper lawn fertiliser application produces a dense, medium- to dark-green lawn that is resistant to pests and environmental stresses. Careless application methods or applying excessive amounts of fertiliser at the wrong season can cause serious lawn damage and also contaminate water sources. Successful fertilization requires that the property owner assesses their lawn’s nutritional requirements, understand fertilisers, use the right application techniques, and know how much and when to apply. Below is a guide to the best lawn fertiliser and how to apply it.
It is important to understand fertiliser labels. All lawn fertilisers have three primary nutrients labelled on the packaging as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK). Considering that fertilisers for trees, flowers, edibles and others have a different composition, it is advisable to apply fertiliser specifically designed for grass in order to achieve the best results. The NPK listed on a fertiliser package indicates the percentage by weight of each of the three nutrients. An example of a common type of all-purpose fertiliser is known as 10-10-10. This means the package contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 10% potassium. The remainder of the ingredients contains fillers and other nutrients.
Nitrogen promotes lush green colour and growth. Phosphorus helps in the development of a healthy root system. It is due to this reason that starter lawn fertilisers contain high levels of phosphorus while those for established lawns have relatively low amounts. Potassium boosts the grass’ overall growth and assists in drought protection, cold tolerance and disease resistance.
The ideal time to fertilize a lawn is in the fall at a time when it is growing and accumulating nutrients. The fertilization schedule will depend on the type of lawn and the type of fertiliser being applied. Prior to fertilizing, it is advisable to check out local weather focus. The activity should be carried out just before a day of light and steady rain as it will save water and allow the grass to be well fed. There is cooler weather in the early fall as well as ample rain and warm soil. This creates the ideal environment for grass seeds to germinate and for it to develop strong roots. Applying some slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertiliser around the early days of May will continue to feed the lawn and offer vital nourishment for the upcoming spring.
Apart from the fall, the other most important season to carry out lawn care and fertilize the lawn is the spring. Spring turf usually comes to life while rather hungry and willing to be fed. The lawn should be fertilized as soon as the dormant grass is exhibiting greenness of at least 50%. Unsightly weeds can be eliminated with the use of quick-release feed and weed fertiliser, without harming the lawn. However, using this fertiliser should be avoided if someone intends to re-seed his or her grass in the same season.
Summer is a difficult season for lawns due to heat, insects, increased foot traffic and drought. Feeding the grass with slow-release fertiliser at the beginning of summer will help it remain green and healthy throughout the season. For cool-season grasses, however, this is not necessary. In case insects cause a problem in the summer, then applying a fertiliser with insect control is recommended.
Using a slow-release fertiliser containing the correct amount of nitrogen is recommended. Such fertilisers break down their nutrients over an extended period of time, meaning an individual can wait longer between applications. With this fertiliser, application can be done between every six to eight weeks rather than every four weeks, depending on the watering. A slow-release fertiliser containing just enough nitrogen but not too much is recommended. The highest amount of nitrogen needed on a lawn is about a tenth of a pound each week. The lawn cannot get any greener, and more fertiliser application will only make it grow faster and require more often mowing.
When professionals apply fertiliser, they often arrive in a tanker trunk and spray the entire lawn in a rather short time period. However, such professionals have a lot of experience. This means they are skilled in factoring the wind, have the ideal equipment to do the job right, and always ensure the yard gets covered evenly. On the other hand, homeowners are advised to use granules and apply them using a spreader. This is because applying granular fertiliser accurately is very easy. When it comes to spraying, it is difficult for a non-professional to consistently apply fertiliser across the lawn.
Watering is very much part of lawn and turf maintenance. However, contrary to what some individuals may think, the more the grass is watered, the more fertiliser it requires. More water means more growth; which in turn means more fertiliser. As the lawn grows, it utilizes more nutrients. If a homeowner has a sprinkler system, then he or she needs to fertilize once in about six weeks. With no sprinkler, the individual can wait for another couple of weeks between feedings. It is advisable to read carefully what the fertiliser label states about watering prior to and after application. For granules to break down, they need moisture. Also, some fertilisers require the individual to wet the lawn before applying them.
The label on a fertiliser package provides the application rate. However, it is advisable for a property owner not to follow it. A notable mistake involves applying with the spreader wide open, so starting out with what the label says is recommended. The fertiliser should be spread at half the recommended rate or less in a single direction. Then, the fertiliser is spread again in a perpendicular direction at half the rate. This pattern provides much better coverage while preventing over application. The yard’s perimeter should be covered first, and then the middle filled. Since the fertiliser is being applied at half the recommended rate, it will not spread very far. This means the person applying does not have to estimate the amount of spacing to keep between rows.
For best results in fertilizing your lawn and caring for it, contact one of the lawn specialists at Rivers Edge Turf today.