fertilizing your yard

Choosing the Right Fertilizers

When applied at the right time and in the right amounts, fertilizer can be the secret ingredient to a healthy, green lawn. However, fertilizer is not a miracle cure, and it cannot create a beautiful lawn on its own. When used along with aerators, herbicides and soil amendments, fertilizer can have a profound effect. Unfortunately, it's easy to damage your lawn by using too much fertilizer or applying it at the wrong time. You should know always know when to fertilize. Lawn that grows on infertile soil is sparse, yellowish and prone to invasion by weeds and pests. If clover is taking over your lawn, it's time to investigate the benefits of fertilizer.

Types of Lawn Fertilizer

Most grass fertilizers are either quick-release or slow-release. Slow-release products are preferred by experts and homeowners because they don't need to be applied as frequently and are less likely to cause fertilizer burn. These products typically contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The most common nutrient ratios for lawn fertilizer are 4-1-2 and 4-1-3. The majority of lawn fertilizers contain between 20 and 40 percent nitrogen. Homeowners can select the appropriate fertilizer by completing a soil test every four years to detect deficiencies. In general, nitrogen is the most important element and is delivered in the highest concentration. Phosphorus stimulates root growth, and potassium makes other nutrients more available.

Application Schedules

Applying fertilizer too early in the season is a common mistake. At first, the lawn will be lush and green. However, when the warm weather comes, the grass won't have the energy to cope with the heat. Warm season turf grasses, such as Bermuda and St. Augustine, benefit from fairly early fertilizer applications between April and July. Cool season grasses, including bluegrass, ryegrass and fescue, benefit from later applications of fertilizer starting around June and continuing through August. Most slow-release products can be applied at the recommended rate every eight to 10 weeks or up to four times per year.

Application Rates

With fertilizer, less is more. Over-fertilizing causes discoloration, leads to pest infestations and promotes disease. That's why it's important to follow the application recommendations. High-maintenance lawns where clippings are removed should receive an application of roughly 1 pound of pure nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Heavily shaded yards and lawns where grass clippings are not collected need about half as much fertilizer.

For best results, apply fertilizer after all weeds are under control, and avoid products that also contain herbicides. Investing in the expertise of a lawn companies won?t hurt either. Always water your lawn thoroughly the day before applying fertilizer, and follow spreader setting guidelines noted on the packaging. Your lawn will look better and be healthier if you apply appropriate amounts of fertilizer and follow a fertilization schedule designed for the type of grass that you have.

Fertilizing Your Yard Articles
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