Just like humans need food, water, and shelter to survive, lawns depend on certain elements to live – 16 to be exact.
Most of these elements are already found naturally in the environment, but several others need to be added to your lawn.
Adding fertilizer with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus does the job.
But before you run out to the store to purchase a complete fertilizer, or one that contains all three, it is important to understand why your lawns livelihood depends on it.
Nitrogen is possibly the most important element your lawn needs. It makes the grass grow and gives it the green color. It will also allow for more density, thick shoots, and sturdy growth, thus creating an environment that will naturally fight off pests and bugs.
Since you can’t toss bananas in your yard, your best bet for potassium is to use fertilizer. Potassium enhances your lawns ability to resist disease, drought, wear, and cold weather.
Phosphorus is used to encourage strong grass root growth.
Most fertilizers you will find in your local home and garden stores will contain all three of these elements. However, there are different amounts of each.
This is reflected in a three digit number, such as 30-10-10, which tells the percentage of each in this order: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These blends will serve different purposes.
For instance, more potassium in blends are good for winterization. The factors you need to consider are grass type, climate, time of season, and soil type.
Once you know what your needs are, you will be able to determine the right combination of these elements. An additional way to scan your needs is to determine the current levels of these nutrients in your soil. This can be done through a simple pH test.
In addition to variation in percentages of the key elements, there are also different types of fertilizers to consider. There are four major options that will greet you in the fertilizer aisle: granular (slow and fast release), liquid, synthetic, and organic.
Granular fertilizers are perhaps the most popular, probably due to their ease in use and duration. Since these are dry, they are much easier to spread. Granular fertilizers can come in a slow time release formula, which provides fertilization over two to six months. This is an efficient choice for homeowners, as it will not need another application for months to come.
Granular is also available in fast release, and although applied in the same manner, the nutrients are released quicker and work better in cold weather. This method also costs less. However, grass burn can occur and there will be a greater need for watering.
In summary, when choosing a fertilizer, you need to consider many things. The current nutrition of your lawn, how much money you want to spend, how much labor you want to invest in application, (initial and repeats), as well as personal preference. But with the spurt in technology, choices keep growing as more combinations are being introduced.