- Posted by Hinged
- On July 5, 2017
Fertilizers, feeds, turf builders, organic or not? What type, how much, and when to apply? Choosing the right products to keep your lawn healthy can be complicated and there are conflicting schools of thought. For the best results you should consult with trained landscape professionals like the ones available through Hinged to get advice on the specifics of your lawn.
Here are some facts that might lead you to at least ask the right questions.
The three numbers on the side of the bag are not for opening a combination lock. They are the percentages of primary nutrients Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium (N-P-K). In general, grass needs more Nitrogen than Phosphorus and Potassium, so for lawns, look for a mix with a high first number relative to the other two. When comparing two brands, if the ratio of nutrients is the same, you can use less of a brand with higher numbers and get the same effect.
Your lawn is not just a green carpet, it is a living, (hopefully balanced) ecosystem. Grass clippings are broken down and digested by microorganisms (bacteria and fungi), which combined with water and soil minerals supply nutrients to the grass which grows enough to be cut or dies off and supplies nutrients for the microorganisms. Anything added to the mix affects the whole ecosystem.
With fertilizers, feeds, and turf builders the difference between organic and synthetic is not just about the price. At the molecular level they are all chemicals, but the ingredients in the synthetics are made of minerals pulled from mines and gasses pulled from the air while the organics are generally derived from plant and animal waste.
The synthetics in general supply the nutrients directly to the grass and are usually absorbed and utilized much faster, but this can lead to more cutting and ultimately require more applications. The organics feed the microorganisms that make the nutrients available to the grass, and are considered slow release as the grass absorbs the nutrients over time.
Switching your lawn over to be truly organic is more than just buying an organic feed. You also need organic weed and pest control. It can take a few seasons to get everything in balance and have a good looking, healthy lawn, but it’s worth it if you’re concerned about the runoff affecting our larger ecosystem and the effect the chemicals might have on your kids and pets.
Skipping the philosophical, political, ethical, and environmental aspects, both organic and synthetic fertilizers will keep your grass green. Both types need to be applied at the right time and in the right amount. A general rule of green thumbs is to apply at Memorial Day and again at Labor Day. But location, type of lawn, and soil minerals all can influence timing. Applying too much can do just as much or more harm than good.
The symptoms your lawn is suffering from are indicative of underlying problems.
- If you are seeing lots of crab grass, your soil is probably compacted and needs to be aerated. A lawn that is being cut too short will also give crabgrass a chance to take root.
- If you are seeing sections of your lawn where there the grass is thin and growing poorly and moss is beginning to take over, it could be from a lack of sunlight. Consider pruning your trees, reseeding with a shade variety or if it is an area directly under a tree switching out the grass for a ring of mulch or ground cover.
- If you are seeing dead spots in the lawn, look for grubs. Besides killing your lawn, they attract moles and raccoons. A few here and there are okay, but if you spot more than 10 larvae per square foot, you have a problem.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on a complicated subject so please consult with a professional to keep your grass greener.