Over the past century, millions of homeowners have come to value the lush green expanses of soft, grass lawns. Historically, the lawn has evolved from a luxury only afforded by the richest landowners to an affordable pleasure available to almost everyone. In order to maintain a healthy, beautiful lawn, fertilizer should be applied on a regular basis. Take a few minutes to think ab out what it is you expect from your lawn. Does it have to be perfect or can you accept a few weeds? Knowing your needs will help choose the appropriate fertilizers.

A lawn needs fertilizer because all plants need various types of food to thrive, just like people. In addition to sunlight and water, plants make use of several elements necessary for their growth. Some elements, such as oxygen, hydrogen and carbon, plants gather from the air. Others are used in relatively small amounts and are gathered from the soil. Examples of these are iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are called macronutrients and lawns require them in larger amount than those occurring naturally in the environment. N-PK is the primary active ingredients in lawn fertilizers.

Every lawn has different needs. Soil can be easily tested to determine how much of each nutrient is needed to successfully maintain a lawn. There are home test kits available that will give you an approximate analysis when needed, but a laboratory test should be done every few years.
Test results will tell you how many pounds per year of each of the macronutrients are needed to maintain your lawn. These recommendations will be tailored to your lawn from the information you provided regarding your mowing and watering routine.
Generally, lawns are considered either high- or low-maintenance. A high- maintenance lawn needs supplemental watering in addition to rainfall and consists of vigorously growing varieties of grass such as the newer types of Kentucky bluegrass. High-maintenance lawns benefit from heavier applications, around 3-4 pounds of nitrogen each year. Low-maintenance lawns are usually not watered and consist of slower growing varieties such as creeping red fescue, chewing fescue or some of the older, common types of bluegrass. These low-maintenance lawns need lighter applications, around 1-2 pounds of nitrogen each year.

Picking the right bag of fertilizer can be confusing, to simplify things, McShane’s Nursery and Landscape Supply has formulated its fertilizers to provide what is usually required in our area. High-maintenance lawns require 3 or 4 applications of fertilizers each season. Low-maintenance lawns need only 1 or 2 feedings. After you decide which type of lawn you have, consider if you want to use herbicides for weed control. Then choose the product that will suit your needs.

Herbicides work several ways to kill unwanted weeds. Weed and Feed contains a post-emergent herbicide, one that acts on weeds that already exists. Crabgrass Preventer contains pre-emergent herbicides that work by keeping seed from germinating and developing. Dry lawn fertilizer is easy to apply using either a rotary or drop spreader. Rotary spreaders have the advantage of covering wide areas with each pass. Drop spreaders are more accurate, but requires more walking. Whether you use a rotary or drop spreader, consider fertilizing at half the recommended rate. Then go back over the same area again, crossing your first paths. Look on the fertilizer bag to find the setting for your spreader. Since nitrogen is very mobile in the soil, you will need to split your fertilizing over several applications; try to avoid putting down more than 1 lb. N/1000 ft2. Ideal weather conditions would be a cool, calm day, followed by rain or watering. Avoid fertilizing when temperatures exceed 85 degrees.If you are using grass seed, you shouldn’t use a fertilizer that contains he rbicides (weed-and-feed or preventers) for several months before and after seeding, the herbicides will prevent the grass seed from germinating. Starter formula is lower in nitrogen and high in phosphorus to encourage good root development. This high phosphorous fertilizer should be used on newly seeded lawns only.

To find the fertilizer that is suitable for your landscape, just ask a professional at McShane’s Nursery and Landscape Supply. They are always happy to help and will find you the fertilizer that you need!

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