Lawn fertilization is used to create a healthy, green lawn. When a lawn is properly fertilized, it's less susceptible to weeds. Understanding how to properly care for your lawn will save you time and money. The following information will provide you with the information needed for a lush, beautiful lawn.
Timing Is Everything
Many people fertilize their lawn as soon as the outdoor temperatures begin to warm. Then, they apply one or two additional applications later in the growing season. Unfortunately, many people fertilize it too early in the season. The best time to apply fertilizer is in the late spring when your grass is just beginning to grow.
During the early spring, grass concentrates on developing strong, healthy roots. If fertilizer is applied too early, your grass will focus on developing leaves rather than developing the roots that will keep your lawn green and healthy throughout the growing season.
If you read the back of a bag of lawn fertilizer, you will find the recommended feeding and dosing schedule for lawns. Lawn fertilizer manufacturers recommend more than necessary to help boost sales; therefore, we recommend using half as much fertilizer as they recommend and half as often. If you are not getting the results that you want, you can increase the frequency and the amount of fertilizer. After a couple of seasons, you will learn how much fertilizer you should use and how often you should apply fertilizer to get a healthy, green lawn.
Soil testing provides you with an accurate way to find out your soil's pH levels as well as the nutrients found in your soil. The test results will help you know which nutrients you need to add to your lawn to ensure proper growth and development.
Some of the top nutrients that will be checked are phosphorus and potassium. Phosphorus is needed for optimal root development while potassium is needed to help your lawn recover from environmental stress.
Your lawn's pH level should be between 6.5 and 7.0. If your lawn pH level is too high or too low, it can prevent your fertilizer from working optimally. Soils with a lower pH level (5.5 to 6.0) will need an application of lime. Conversely, if your soil's pH level is more than 7.5, you will need to lower the pH level by applying sulfur.
Over fertilizing can cause excessive plant growth and increase the risk of certain diseases. If you over fertilize, it increases the risk of run off, which can leach in and contaminate groundwater. When you properly apply fertilizer, your lawn will become healthier.
To ensure optimal fertilization without over fertilizing reduce the rate of application by half the recommended amount. Then, using right angles make two passes. This will help ensure you are not over fertilizing your lawn.
Most fertilizing manufacturers recommend fertilizing four times a year; any more than that is too much. Believe it or not, most homeowners should only fertilizer their lawns twice a year. If too much fertilizer is applied, the lawn grasses will not be able to use the fertilizer. When this occurs, the excess fertilizer can make its way into our groundwater, wetlands, streams, lakes, and rivers.
Over fertilization can weaken your lawn and make it more susceptible to disease. Additionally, excess fertilizer results in an abundance of thatch which eventually will chock out your lawn grasses. Excess fertilization causes an increase in mowing frequency. If you mow often, your soil can become compacted, resulting in an unhealthy lawn.
Most homeowners apply lawn fertilizer haphazardly. They apply fertilizer when they have time, when fertilizer is on sale, or when their lawn begins to look poorly. When you hire a lawn professional, your lawn will be fertilized on a schedule based on your lawn's unique needs.
If you plan to only fertilize your lawn once per year, you should apply fertilizer on Labor Day weekend. By fertilizing in September, you will replace the nutrients your lawn grasses use throughout the growing season.
If your lawn needs to be fertilized twice annually, the second application should be completed around the middle to end of October. This feeding will provide your grass with enough food to last throughout the winter months. This application helps your grass develop a strong root system in the early Spring.
If your lawn needs to be fertilized three times a year, the third application of fertilizer should be done in the late spring. Most often, a crabgrass preventer is used with this third application of fertilizer. During this application, you should only use half of the normal amount of fertilizer as this is the time that grass grows fastest.
Finally, if a fourth application of fertilizer is needed, it should be done during the mid-summer; however, it is important to take care with this application. If fertilizer is applied during hot weather, it can harm your lawn. If you need to fertilize during this period of time, an organic fertilizer should be used as they are less likely to damage your lawn.
Although fertilizer can keep your lawn healthy and green, over fertilization can cause a number of environmental issues. The nutrients in fertilizer do not cause environmental problems when a fertilizer is used properly; however, when it is misused, issues can arise. Many people get in a hurry when applying fertilizer and they think that any excess fertilizer will simply make their lawn look any better. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are some rules that should be followed to help protect the environment.
First, avoid applying fertilizer near any body of water, including a stream, lake, pond, river, or wetlands. If fertilizer reaches these bodies of water, it can cause an algae bloom or excess weed growth, which can harm the aquatic life. Stay at least 8 feet away from any body of water to prevent this from happening.
Never spread fertilizer on frozen ground. Many homeowners apply a crabgrass preventer along with a fertilizer (i.e. weed and feed formulas) in the early spring to help prevent crabgrass from growing. If the ground is still frozen, run off is sure to occur. To protect the environment and ensure a healthy lawn, wait until the ground has thawed before using any type of weed and feed formula.
More and more homeowners are choosing organic fertilizers for their lawns. Organic fertilizers employ natural substances like bone meal, blood meal, feather meal, or fish meal. Organic fertilizers have lower nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, which allows them to be applied during the warm growing season. Organic fertilizers stimulate microbial activity in the soil, which helps your grasses to grow.
Organic fertilizers are safer and easier to use. They will not damage your lawn the way chemical fertilizer does in the warmer summer months. Organic fertilizers work slower, which requires patience. Finally, organic fertilizers are more expensive, which may be off putting until you consider the benefits.
Fertilizing your lawn results in a healthy, green lawn. Many homeowners do not understand how to fertilize, when to fertilize, or what products should be used to fertilize their lawns. Using a professional lawn service ensures your lawn is fertilized property while protecting the environment.