6 Micronutrients for Your Lawn

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Lawns require certain nutrients to grow. The three major macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – can be obtained naturally or through fertilizers. However, micronutrients are just as important to the growth and health of plants. Although they are only needed in small amounts, they are still vital to having a healthy lawn.

So, what exactly are micronutrients? They are traces of elements found in the soil or in fertilizers that are used in conjunction with macronutrients to assist plant growth function. Although there is a wide range of micronutrients found in soil, the following six are among the most widely found:

  1. Boron
    How it helps plants: Boron helps plants use and regulate other nutrients. It also helps produce sugar and carbohydrates for energy, and is vital in the production of seed and fruit development. Boron has also been known to kill weeds and ground ivy.

    Signs that boron is needed: Dying plant tips, messy broom-like formations

    Where to find boron: House cleaner products containing borax have been a common way to use boron on the lawn.
  2. Copper
    How it helps plants: Copper helps plants reproduce and strengthen the roots, as well as assisting metabolism, and the usage of proteins.

    Signs that copper is needed: Leaves are dark green and the plants aren't growing.

    Where to find copper: Fertilizers that contain copper will generally be labeled on the bag with "copper", "cupric" or "cuprous elements".
  3. Iron
    How it helps plants: Iron helps create chlorophyll, a vital component of the photosynthesis process needed for energy in plants.

    Signs that iron is needed: Leaves turn light yellow with dark green veins in between.

    Where to find iron: Most soil types already contain iron or iron compounds, like iron sulfate and iron chelate. In fertilizers, most varieties will be labeled with "iron chelate".
  4. Manganese

    How it helps plants: Manganese works with the enzyme system of plants to break down carbohydrates and fuel nitrogen metabolism

    Signs that manganese is needed: Yellowing between the veins of leaves, reduced size of plant parts (leaves, shoots, and fruit), dead spots and patches on leaves and grass.

    Where to find manganese: Fertilizer bags that contain manganese will have it labeled on the bag. It is often applied in conjunction with zinc, another micronutrient.

  5. Molybdenum

    How it helps plants: Molybdenum works alongside nitrogen to bring nutrients to plants.

    Signs that molybdenum is needed: Older leaves turn yellow, younger leaves remain a very light green (so less saturated in color than normal).

    Where to find molybdenum: Fertilizers will have it labeled on the bag.

  6. Zinc

    How it helps plants: Zinc is important to the transformation of carbohydrates in plants for energy and for regulating the plant's consumption of sugars. Zinc also helps the enzyme systems in plants with growth.

    Signs that zinc is needed: Yellowing between the veins of new leaves.

    Where to find zinc: Fertilizers will have zinc labeled on the bag.

Other Notes about Micronutrients

Although micronutrients are needed in small amounts to help macronutrients function to their fullest, they also require certain conditions in order to work.

pH levels dramatically affect the availability of micronutrients in the soil and plants. If the pH is too high or too low, plants may not be able to take full advantage of the micronutrients.

Micronutrients also affect the uptake of macronutrients, like nitrogen. If certain micronutrients are missing, the plant can sometimes show deficiencies in how it uptakes macronutrients. This could lead to stunted growth or the degrading of plants.

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