When it comes to lawn care, your fertilizer should be your main priority, but it can be a little intimidating choosing the right type. With our help, you will be able to identify your grass, lawn care needs, and more so you can create the perfect DIY fertilizer regimen for your lawn. It’s easier than you think, so let’s get started!
What Does Grass Fertilizer Do?
Most people know their lawns need fertilizer, but don’t feel bad if you’re not sure exactly what fertilizer does for your lawn. Here at Simple Lawn Solutions, we’ll break it down for you. Fertilizer is, essentially, food for your lawn. It provides nutrients for your lawn to continue to be fertile, so your lawn, plants, and flowers will grow.
Why Does My Lawn Need Fertilizer?
You might be wondering, why isn’t sunlight and water enough for my lawn to grow? Why do I need fertilizer? Well, think of it like this: your body needs protein, vitamins, and carbs to grow, that’s why we tell kids to eat their vegetables. Plants and grass are the same way, they need those specific nutrients to create building blocks to grow taller, thicker, and greener.
Necessary Nutrients in Fertilizer
The three main nutrients that fertilizers can supply are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. With these three nutrients, plants produce amino acids, cell membranes, and ions that are necessary for metabolism. Without fertilizer, these nutrients can only be obtained through the death of another plant – it’s crazy, we know. That dead plant recycles its nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium into the soil for the plants around it to soak up. With the right fertilizer in your lawn care regimen, you can have a lawn full of lush, fed plants.
Identify Your Lawn
Before we can help you create your DIY Fertilizer regimen, you have to identify your lawn. If you’re new to lawn care, it might seem like just grass to you, but there is one distinction you need to know: cool-season grass vs. warm-season grass.
An easy way to identify if your lawn contains cool-season grass is recognizing if it stays green all year long. This usually occurs in the northern United States, but the “Transition Zone,” which is basically the middle plane of the United States, can also be a great home for cool-season grass. In this area, cool-season grasses grow throughout the year. If your lawn looks its best in temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, this is also an indication that your lawn is full of cool-season grass. Here are a few types of grass that are cool-season:
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Fine fescues
- Tall fescue
- Perennial or annual ryegrass
Warm-season grass grows, not surprisingly, in the sun belt area of the United States. The lower and hotter areas of the “Transition Zone” can also have warm-season grass. Warm-season grass lawns thrive in temperatures ranging from 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, which could last up to five or six months, the grass stops growing and browns. Here are a few types of grass that are warm-season:
- St. Augustinegrass
When to Fertilize
Now that you have identified your grass, the time of the year to fertilize is crucial. For cool-season grasses, your lawn needs to be fertilized three times a year. The recommended times for fertilizing cool-season grass are twice in the fall: September to October. Come springtime, the best time to fertilize is right after the first signs of growth, fertilizing in April or early May. Avoid over-fertilization during the peak of summer heat and humidity, as this can increase disease incidence and stress out your cool-season lawn.
When it comes to warm-season grasses, your lawn should be fertilized three times, but it’s more dependent on growth than the time of the year. The first round of fertilizing should be when the grass starts to green, which is most likely in early spring but also depends on your lawn. The second round is in late spring. Let the grass sit through the summer, and then in late summer, give your lawn the last dose of fertilizer.
Knowing Your Lawn’s Needs
The signs of deficiency in any of the 3 main nutrients will dictate the type of fertilizer you need. Here are the signs:
- Nitrogen Deficiency
o Slow growth, or dormant
o Light green or pale in color
o Lack of density/thickness
o Yellow leaves
- Phosphorous Deficiency
o Lead edges are purple/red/very dark green
o Reduced growth and density
o Poor root growth
- Potassium Deficiency
o Yellowing & may appear burnt
o Little tolerance for hot or cold weather
o Lawn looks stressed or diseased
Types of Grass Fertilizer
You may have seen fertilizers with three numbers, labeled like 10-10-10. Those three numbers reflect the composition of the three main nutrients in that fertilizer. Those numbers stand for nitrogen percentage, phosphorous percentage, and potassium percentage in that order. The first number, nitrogen, concentrates on green and leaf growth. Phosphorous is for root development, while potassium is for plant hardiness.
Customizing Your Fertilizer Regimen
You now know that you either need fertilizer twice in the fall and once in the spring, or, for warm-season grass, twice in the spring, once in the summer. You can mix and match the following fertilizers to meet your lawn care goals and the timeline of your lawn care regimen.
Spring and Summer Lawn Care
Our 16-4-8 Liquid Lawn Food balances those three key nutrients: nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium. This fertilizer is perfect for the warm-season-grass fertilizer timeline, and also for that spring fertilizer for cool-grass lawns! Our 15-0-15 Liquid Lawn Food focuses on nitrogen and potassium and is great for areas with phosphorus restrictions.
This fertilizer should be applied in spring or summer and would be an effective way to bring a brown warm-season lawn back to its nourished, green state. Our 28-0-0 Liquid Lawn Food focuses on nitrogen. In this formula, 70% of the nitrogen is categorized as a quick release, which is absorbed immediately. The other 30% is slow release; this keeps your lawn well-fed and nourished between the three fertilizing sessions of your lawn care regimen!
Summer and Fall Lawn Care
Our 3-18-18 Liquid Lawn Fertilizer has a formula with high phosphorous and high potassium. This will aid in root development and plant hardiness helping your lawn through stressful periods of extreme temperatures.
Fall and Winter Lawn Care
Our 0-0-25 Liquid Lawn Food is a great Potassium liquid fertilizer.