Truly, it doesn't matter if you are paying a lawn fertilizer service, or performing the fertilizing yourself.
Either way, adding supplements to your lawn is the same principle as humans using a multi vitamin.
The idea is to give your lawn the nutrients that it is missing.
It's true, this will ensure that you are maximizing your lawns growth and keeping it healthy.
So how do you fertilize properly and get that fresh green lawn?
Let’s take a look at 3 steps to proper lawn fertilization.
Why is Proper Fertilizing so Important for a Green Lawn?
Here’s the deal, proper supplementation is crucial to turning an average lawn into the pride of your street.
It's important to note that the key word in that sentence is "proper".
Just like with properly dosed multi-vitamins, you want to add the right amount of the missing nutrients that your lawn is in need of.
Step 1 to Proper Lawn Fertilization- Preparation
The first and arguably the most important step for you to take is to research your lawn.
You want to know what nutrients your soil is missing. Therefore you want to find out what you need to add, instead of gambling with generalized lawn supplements.
To do this start by testing your soil with an at home soil test kit. You'll be able to find at your local garden center or online.
Best of all, these tests are super simple and give you a better idea of what your soil is missing.
Almost all of these kits include NPK tests, which measure the levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium in your soil. These are the THREE main elements in lawn fertilizers.
Pro-Tip! Most people don’t know this, but you can also SEE what nutrients in the lawn are missing. For example, light green or yellow plants or grass suggests a lack of nitrogen. Pretty cool right!?
Step 2 to Proper Lawn Fertilization- Choose the Right Fertilizer
So now you know your lawns nutrient levels, you now have to pick out a lawn fertilizer.
But that’s not all, you also need to know how much to add to get to the optimum levels.
Once you understand these levels you'll be able to more effectively choose the right fertilizer for your lawn.
Understanding the Numbers
When you look at the fertilizer package you'll often see that it's a 20-10-10 fertilizer or something similar.
This represents the percentage of the product that is Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium respectively.
You might be thinking, why don't the numbers don't add up to 100 percent, right?
Well, that’s because the rest of the weight is taken up by filler ingredients which are needed to ensure a correct spread of the fertilizer.
Optimum Measurements of NPK in PPM
Here are the numbers when it comes to the optimal PPM for the lawn's nutrients.
For Nitrogen: the optimum ppm level (parts per million the concentration of the element), is in the 20's. This works out to around 70-100 pounds per acre.
For Phosphorus: ppm should be between 40 and 100.
Finally, Potassium: levels can fluctuate quite a lot but anything above 250 is good.
What about pH?
When it comes to pH you’ll want to try and achieve a level of 6 or 7, which is roughly neutral and optimum for grass growth.
Step 3 to Proper Lawn Fertilization- Fertilizing the Lawn
More and more fertilizers on the market are boasting that they are "slow release" which is exactly what it sounds like. The fertilizer granules will slowly breakdown, releasing the nutrients over an extended period of time.
The point of this is to reduce the frequency you have to fertilize your lawn and hence reduce the time you have to spend on it.
Why Not Use Liquid Lawn Fertilizer?
There are certainly types of liquid lawn fertilizer that are beneficial.
However, it's generally much better for you to use granular fertilizer as opposed to a liquid spray. This is mainly because granular lawn fertilizer helps to ensure that you get an even coverage.
How Many Times A Year Should You Fertilize the Lawn?
Gardenaholic recommends 5 fertilizer applications over the season, starting in mid-April or once your grass starts to grow, whichever is first.
You should plan your 5 applications over the entire season, up until frost will set in. Ensuring that each fertilizing session is equally spaced apart.
Be Careful Not to Overspread the Lawn Fertilizer!
When you're actually spreading your fertilizer you must be careful not to overdo it. It might be easier to start with your spreader on a "tighter" setting, i.e. letting out less. Then you can put half the recommended amount in and see how far it gets you, before finishing the rest appropriately.
It's best to do more applications on a tighter spreader setting to avoid over fertilizing the lawn.
Bottom Line on Proper Lawn Fertilization
Professional landscaping companies all over the United States will agree that supplementing your soil is crucial to growing a gorgeous and healthy lawn.
However, to enable yourself to supplement the lawn appropriately you will need to plan and prepare.
The best method to properly fertilize the lawn will always be to test, apply and retest.
With the correct supplementation a greener lawn is within reach.
Looking for more to read? Check out this guide to Eco-friendly lawn care products.
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