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windowguy 07-23-2009 10:48 AM

difference between pH, fertilizer and nitrogen?
I had my soil tested, it said my pH was low, and to add lime. That's easy. Then it examined all my nutrients: Potassium, calcium, phosphate etc. Nowhere in the entire examination does the word "nitrogen" come up until the end in the fertilizer section where they are recomending the ratios of fertilizer for me to apply.

So my question is.. what exactly IS nitrogen? Is it a nutrient?

i hear landscapers all the time say to add nitrogen to a lawn, but i just had this clinical study done on my soil and it didnt tell me what my nitrogen reading was? So i'm totally confused to what exactly nitrogen is and if my soil study didnt check for it, why does everyone say you need to add it to the lawn?

I live in NJ and have kentucky bluegrass. Full sun.

ccarlisle 07-24-2009 06:43 AM

The tests will give you pH level, and the levels of potassium, phosphorus and the elements calcum, perhaps magnesium...they do not give you a level of nitrogen because of the variability of the level at any given time. So the test might say that you lawn has a given level of nitrogen, but that only tells you the level at that particular time. Tomorrow the level may be quite different...

More important than repeated soil tests is to have in place a regular adequate fertilization plan, whatever you choose that to be - but don't read too much into soil testing. In order to have a good lawn, mowing, watering and of course fertilization all have more impact on the quality of lawn you have than would a temporary absence of nitrogen or any of the other elements. Soil is a complex product and is quite forgiving. But mowing frequency, watering amount, type of grass seed, weed control are, IMO, the most relevant parameters we can control and that give good lawns.

Yoyizit 07-24-2009 07:04 AM


Originally Posted by windowguy (Post 305748)
So my question is.. what exactly IS nitrogen? Is it a nutrient?

ccarlisle 07-24-2009 07:19 AM

Well, yeah, people can tell you about the chemical composition of nitrogen, its attributes and how it participates in pretty well every chemical reaction that involves a lifeform...but that's like me explaining how an car alternator is constructed when all you want to do is get your car going.

Simply put, nitrogen is a chemical component of amino acids; connected chains of amino acids are called 'proteins'. Proteins are required for growth along with carbon, hydrogen and the case of plants, photosynthesis is what make that whole thing happen.

That's "nice" to know, but knowing all that won't give you a lawn. But what is important to know in the case of lawn care is how growth is controlled via mowing and watering and fertilization and weed control and all the other things that go into making a "lawn".

As I said, the greatest impact on your lawn comes from you knowing how to mow, how to water, when to water, how much fertilizer to add, what to do about weed control and when.

Yoyizit 07-24-2009 09:55 AM

My bad :(

downunder 07-29-2009 10:19 AM

pH is important because it effects nutrient uptake.

Fertilizers contain a variety of nutrients, minerals, and elements.

Nitrogen leaches fairly rapidly, what doesn't get used up, so any soil analysis will be about as effective as leaving the gas cap off of your car and today asking how much gas was in the tank last week.
CC- how did that translate?

I think what you may be asking is how does nitrogen effect your lawn? Fertilizer labels commonly indicate N, P, and K. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium respectively.

Think of N as for top growth. In other words, leaves, which is what grass really is.
Phosporous (phosphates) is important for roots, especially early on, and flower (and by extension, fruit) production.
Potassium is like a vitamin for the overall vigor and well-being.

The others are important as well, but in much smaller amounts.

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