Proper Nutrient Levels for your Lawn

Maintaining proper nutrient levels is an important, but often overlooked part of a healthy lawn care routine. If the nutrient levels in your soil drop below what they should be, your grass and plants will suffer. That's why you need to be aware of the nutrient levels and take steps to correct the levels if they drop below what is needed for a healthy lawn.

There are many factors that contribute to the nutrient level of your soil over time. The type of grass and soil, as well as weather conditions and the age of your grass will all factor into your lawn's particular nutrient level.

Soil Testing

If you are concerned about the nutrient levels in your lawn you can perform a simple pH test on your soil to ensure that you have the right balance of nutrients. This test is the only way to know for sure whether your soil has the right balance of nutrients.

Because there are so many factors that can influence the amount and times of fertilizer applications, a pH test is the only way to get an accurate reading of your soil's nutrient levels. You can have a soil test done at a lab or you can purchase one of the many do-it-yourself kits that are now on the market. These kits are inexpensive and easy to do at home, but you may not get as accurate a result as you would from a professional lab.

If you discover that your nutrient levels are below what they should be, then you can fertilize your grass. You want to avoid over fertilizing your lawn. Fertilizing should only be done when nutrient levels go below what is required for the maintenance of a healthy lawn.

Adding compost to your soil will help with the nutrient levels, but the release of nutrients will occur slowly over time. Organic fertilizers will supply the type of nutrients you need, though they are in a slow release form.

Commercial Fertilizer

You can also purchase inorganic fertilizers at your local garden center. These commercial fertilizers are usually made up of three main nutrients needed for healthy lawn care. The first is nitrogen, which gives your grass a deep green color and promotes growth. Next is phosphorous. This nutrient encourages root growth.

Finally there is potassium for stress resistance. Your soil needs all of these nutrients to really thrive, but they are needed in different levels, with nitrogen being the most used and needed of these elements. If there is too much nitrogen though, there will be too little root growth and too little energy stored for the winter months. That's why your fertilizer mix should be a balance of all three nutrients.

There should be numbers on the fertilizer bag, which tell you what percentage of these three nutrients is in the mix you're looking at. The numbers will always be presented in the order N-P-K (N for nitrogen, P for phosphorous and K for potassium). You will need to make sure to water your lawn after applying an inorganic fertilizer (unless the packaging tells you not to). If you do not water after applying this kind of fertilizer, you may burn sections of your lawn.

Preparation

Before applying fertilizer, you need to measure your lawn area property. The basic ratio of nutrients to land space should be listed on the bag of fertilizer you purchase. When doing your calculations, you need to make sure that you are just measuring your lawn area and not the entire size of your property. You must subtract any non-lawn area from the size of your property (for example your house, driveway and planted beds).

The rate and timing of fertilization is really important to the health of your lawn. Some soils only require fertilization in the fall, some in the spring and fall and some lawns require anywhere from four to six applications per year.

The best time to fertilize is in the fall rather than the spring. In the fall, fertilizer helps the lawn grow and store carbohydrates to help through the winter months. Spring fertilization can actually deplete stored energy and the result can be excessive growth, which must be kept under control with extra mowing and a lot of extra work on your part.

Our Most Popular Online Tips