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Fertilizing 101

Learn more about lawn fertilizer, its affect on the grass, and how to use it

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Fertilizing 101
photo © Jamie Burke

Using lawn fertilizer is simply feeding your lawn. Like any living thing, grass needs food for nutrition. Plant nutrition is synthesized from the basic elements in their environment and from photosynthesis. Plant nutrients are either derived from the soil or added in the form of fertilizer. Fertilizers can be organically derived or synthetically manufactured and are usually applied to lawns in a granular form.

Test the Soil: Before you even think about fertilizer, you need to think about testing the soil. Find out about deficiencies, excesses, and the soil pH with a soil test. A soil test is also the only real way to figure out what fertilizer you need. Read more...

Lime the Lawn: Soils will commonly be acidic or "sour" and need the addition of lime. If a soil's pH is lower than 6.0, it is considered acidic. Different lime derivatives may serve your particular purpose. Read more...

Plant Nutrition: Ever wonder what the three numbers on a bag of fertilizer were? Also known as macro-nutrients, they are the three most important nutrients in a plant's diet. Micro-nutrients are important too. Read more...

A Closer Look at Nitrogen: Nitrogen is the most important element for plant development. It is required in large amounts and must be added to the soil to avoid a deficiency. It is responsible for lush, vigorous growth and the development of a dense, attractive lawn. Read more...

When to Apply Spring Fertilizer: Don't fertilize too early. Let the grass "wake up" and begin it's growth cycle. Wait until mid-late May and fertilize with a slow release fertilizer. The effects will last all summer. Read more...

Late Summer/Early Fall Fertilizing: Also know as the "bridge" feeding, this fertilizer application is a low rate feeding to get the lawn through the rest of the season and prepare for winter. Read more...

Late Fall Fertilizing: Late fall fertilizing is a crucial last step in lawn care programs north of the transition zone. The final fertilizer application should be made when the grass stops growing or slows down to the pint of not needing to be mowed, but before the ground freezes. Read more...

Lawn Spreaders: Lawn spreaders are commonly referred to as fertilizer spreaders but in fact can be used to spread just about any dry, granular material. There are two basic types of lawn spreaders; rotary or broadcast spreaders and drop spreaders.Read more...

Lawn Spreader Operating Tips: These useful tips will hopefully prevent accidents or spills and provide some insight on the proper operation of a lawn spreader. Read more...

Lawn Care Conversions and Math: Lawn care can be difficult enough without math. Keep these conversions handy and learn some cross multiplication basics to keep confusion to a minimum. Read more...

When to Call the Professionals: Had enough buying, lifting, spreading, storing, and calibrating fertilizer? Maybe it's time to think about hiring a professional to do some or all of your lawn care. Read more...

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