Are you longing for a healthy, lush lawn? Applying the right feed at the right time is the secret to those picturesque lawns and yours too can look that way.
Before growing the perfect lawn, there are a few things you have to learn and that is why we created an unlimited guide to lawn feed. Read on, you will find everything you need to know from reading the packaging label to tips on applying fertilizer.
What is the meaning of the labels on lawn feeds?
Before we talk about choosing the right lawn feed or how to apply fertilizer, let’s learn about the fertilizer itself. Lawn feed is rich with nutrients, with the main ones being nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK).
On the packaging, the three nutrients will have corresponding numbers to signify the percentage of each nutrient inside the packaging. For example, a fertilizer labelled 20-0-10 means that the feed contains 20 per cent nitrogen, 0 per cent phosphorous, and 10 per cent potassium.
The first number is the most important. If it is high, it means the feed is a chemical fertilizer and you will not need to apply too much of it. If it is too low, it is an organic fertilizer and you will likely need to apply lots of it.
Each of the nutrients serves its own purpose. Nitrogen is the most important of these nutrients. It helps the grass to grow and gives the lawn that nice green colour.
On the other hand, phosphorus helps the grassroots to grow deeper while potassium helps to keep diseases a bay. Potassium ensures that the grass is always healthy.
Now that we know the basics of lawn feed, let us have a look at the different types of feed.
Types of Lawn Feed
When buying fertilizer, you can opt for liquid, granular, organic, or synthetic feed. There are speciality lawn feeds that serve a specific purpose in your lawn. The feed you choose will depend on your lawn needs and your own landscaping goals.
- Liquid lawn feed: Most liquid feeds are made from synthetic materials including minerals and inorganic waste. This type of feed is mostly used to encourage grass growth and boost lawn colour.
- Granular lawn feed: Granular feed releases nutrients into the grass slowly and is a preferred choice for established lawns.
- Organic: This can be bought or made at home and contains natural materials that help to fertilize the soil for better grass growth.
- Synthetic: This may be in liquid or granular form and is designed to be quickly absorbed for fast growth and greening.
When choosing a fertilizer, you will have to consider your landscaping goals. For example, do you want to control weeds, kill fungus, or promote fast growth and greening? There is a feed for each of these purposes.
Examples of speciality fertilizers include:
- Weed and feed: You will see some fertilizers labelled weed and feed. As the name suggests, this type of feed fertilizes your lawn and prevents weeds at the same time. The feed helps with grass growth from deep down in the roots.
- Fast-release: This type of feed helps with rapid greening and growth of the grass. It is mostly used to boost the growth of a new lawn but can also be used in an established lawn that needs sprucing up.
- Controlled-release: This feed releases nutrients into the soil slowly, allowing for even grass growth and slow but sure greening.
- Lawn weed killers: This type of feed only kills lawn weeds without the added benefit of fertilizing the soil. Other feeds help to control fungi and moss without damaging the rest of the lawn.
- Insect control feeds: If you have an infestation of unwanted insects such as ants, you can apply insect control fertilizer.
How To Choose The Right Lawn Feed
With all these types of feeds to choose from, how do you choose a good one? Well, this will depend on your lawn needs, type of grass, and even your climate.
We recommend testing your soil using a simple home test kit to find out the nutrients you need to add for a green, lush and healthy lawn.
Some key considerations when choosing lawn feed are:
New vs established lawn
A new lawn will have different nutrients requirements from an established lawn. New grass needs nutrients to boost root growth. The type of fertilizer you choose should contain a higher percentage of phosphorous in it. Established lawns on the other hand will require fertilizer with more nitrogen content and weed-killing capacity.
Time of the year
The needs of your lawn will vary with the changing of the seasons. This means that the type of fertilizer combination you will need in summer might be different from what your grass will need in spring.
Synthetic vs organic feed
Another consideration to make is whether you want to apply fast-acting synthetic fertilizer or organic fertilizers, which releases nutrients into the soil at a much slower pace. With synthetic feeds, grass will grow and green in a few days but there is a risk of killing the grass if you use too much fertilizer.
Organic fertilizer takes a little longer to show results and you might have to wait a few weeks to see a difference in your lawn. On the upside, organic feeds are friendlier to the environment.
Liquid vs granular
Liquid lawn feeds come in the form of a powder that can be mixed with water or in fluid form. This type of fertilizer is often a quick release.
Granular fertilizer tends to be a slow-release type and it may take a few weeks or months to deliver a lush lawn but the environmental benefits might be worth the wait.
When To Apply Lawn Feed
The best time to apply feed to your lawn will depend on the type of fertilizer you are using and more importantly, the type of grass in your lawn. Plan to feed your lawn at least twice a year for best results.
Ideally, you should feed your lawn in the fall. At this time, the grass is sprouting and building up its nutrient reserves. The weather is also cooler, which means enough rain and warm soil, which are the perfect conditions for grass seed to germinate and form strong roots. Applying slow-release fertilizer with high nitrogen content will nourish your lawn ready for the spring.
Spring is the next best time to feed your lawn. During this time of the year, new grass is springing up and is longing for feed. Time your schedule to feed your lawn when the lawn is about fifty per cent green.
As the family spends more time outdoors, the lawn will take a beating in the summer. The heat, drought, and insects also contribute to the stress your lawn will experience during this time. A slow-release fertilizer with insect control might be a good choice to maintain a lush lawn in the summer.
As a general rule, apply fertilizer with a high nitrogen content every 90-120 days at the start of the seasons i.e. spring, summer and in fall. For a healthy lawn, apply all-purpose fertilizer every two months.
Use weed and feed fertilizer as needed to get rid of weeds. However, you should avoid applying weed control fertilizer if you plan to plant new seeds in the same season. For example, you can apply feed in fall if your plan to reseed in spring.
Steps for Feeding Your Lawn
Proper application of lawn feed makes all the difference in nurturing a lush and healthy lawn. Follow these steps to fertilize your lawn:
1. Provide enough water
You want the soil to absorb the lawn fertilizer as deeply as possible as opposed to the fertilizer sitting on the surface. To achieve this, water your lawn about twice a day every day for a few days before applying the feed.
We also recommend using an aerator to dig out small holes in the ground to make it easier for water and feed to penetrate the soil.
2. Adjust spreader settings
Spreaders make it easy to apply feed. Spreaders come in two main categories i.e. broadcast spreaders and drop spreaders.
Broadcast spreaders distribute fertilizer across large areas, which makes them ideal for bigger lawns. However, you will have little control over how far the spreader tosses the fertilizer.
With the drop spreader, the feed falls directly onto the lawn, which offers more accuracy and control. This type of spreader is ideal for smaller lawns but due to the limited distribution, you might have to make more passes to completely cover the lawn.
Be sure to adjust the spreader setting to apply the right amount of fertilizer. Each bag of feed has a recommended amount that you should apply to the lawn for best results.
3. Use the correct application pattern
Efficiency is key when applying feed, especially if yours is a large lawn. Here is a simple pattern we recommend:
Start with the perimeter
Starting with the lawn’s perimeter ensures that you do not miss any spot on the edges. Careful application also protects flowerbeds and the curb from fertilizer.
Move to the middle
After you are done with the perimeter, now it is time to move toward the middle. For proper application, make several passes, moving in a straight line.
Determine the right amount of fertilizer
Overfeeding or underfeeding your lawn will have negative consequences. Too much fertilizer can cause a weed problem while too little will see you struggle with browning grass in your yard.
Read the instructions on the label for a guide on how much of fertilizer needs to be applied over a given area. Generally, every eight steps you take is approximately 10 feet.
When you understand lawn feed, you will be well on your way to nurturing a beautiful, enviable lawn. In this guide, we have covered everything you need to know about feeds or fertilizers for your lawn. As you can see, you do not have to be a pro to build the lush and healthy lawn you have always dreamed of.