Frequency to fertilize lawn
Good Morning, I have searched the web high and low for a straight up answer on this question and cannot find any.
How often can I fertilize my lawn with Scotts Turfbuilder products without harming my lawn? I have one application on my lawn about 2.5 weeks ago and while it really turned things around, would like to reapply to a couple areas that still have weeds.
In the turf management business, when we could afford it, we sought to provide 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000sf of turf per month. We did not use time-released fertilizers much and we did not need other nutrients (as determined by a soil test) as often so used straight nitrogen in alternating months. Something like simple and cheap ammonium sulfate.
Every sack of fertilizer has what as called the NPK ratio printed on it somewhere as a 3 digit string. The first number is always the nitrogen content and the other two numbers are potassium and phosphorous content.
Say a 100 pound sack is marked 20-0-0. 20 percent of it, or 20 pounds, will be available nitrogen and it will feed 20,000sf feet for a month. Make sense?
Now given what excess nitrogen run-off does to reclamation ponds around housing developments and the way it is destroying aquaculture and corral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, you might want to use less fertilizer. Just watch the response of your lawn.
Don't ask too many questions about what else is in a sack of fertilizer beyond nutrients. Some is stuff to keep it form clumping together. In the case of timed-released products there are coatings. The rest can be absolutely anything including heavy metals allowed under "inert label ingredients" laws that do not require disclosure. Ever increasing levels of heavy metals are showing up in places other than the strategic places they were mined and found exclusively. Like in Midwest farmland and because they got their with fertilizers.
Anyhow, the Scotts program is laid out with an idjut manual and is perfect for the unwashed masses. If you follow it you will most certainly have an ok looking lawn.
If you take the time to really manage your lawn like a turfgrass manager you will notice the difference instantly. You need to start with a soil analysis and accompanying recommendations. Then you will probably want to start buying your lawn food in large sacks. They will not come with pretty pictures on them but you can buy 50 or 100 pound sacks of generic packaged lawn food for a fraction of what you pay for Scotts marketing. Just store in Rubbermaid trash container to keep moisture out.
Of course you will want to buy and apply pesticides, fungicides and herbicides only as needed. Water, deeply and infrequently as your soil will allow and early enough in the day that the turf can dry out before dark. De-thatch when needed and aerate regularly. Sit back and watch lush green grass blades grow on days you are not mowing it.
sdsester - should you be using a straight Nitrogen fertilizer? I'm from the camp where you would want to encourage root growth (Phosphorus) rather than straight green growth (Nitrogen) depending on the time of year. What do you think?
Also, is there different times of year when you should be using a different 'blend' of fertilizer? For isntance, should you be using high Nitrogen and no Phosphorus in Fall and Spring or just in the early summer months?
Just picking your brain on this one.
Good question and you want to provide the turf with a balance of nutrients it needs on a regular basis. But the nutrient it needs most and that the soil can metabolize fast enough is nitrogen.
So, we typically used a balanced fertilizer every other month or every quarter or so. You could use a timed release formula for this part of things too. We then applied fast-acting nitrogen at the rate mentioned, when we could afford it. And seeing the damage over-nitrogenation run-off is doing, we may have been over doing it at 1 pound per 1,000sf but that is the number that sticks in my head. Be sure and water something like ammonium sulfate off the grass blades and immediately so you do not fertilizer burn the turf.
How much and how frequently to add any plant nutrients comes directly from a good soil analysis. If the soil cannot metabolize the chemicals for the plants to take up, you are just wasting money on fertilizer that will leach past the roots or run-off somewhere, doing nothing for your lawn in the meantime.
Nitrogen does spur top growth and there is no need for lots of it when the turf goes dormant and semi-dormant seasonaly. Then a lower nitrogen feeding weighted toward the other nutrients, or a true Fall application of a pellitized time release formual that will not release nitrogren until spring is a great idea.
Again, it depends on where you live and climate. And I cannot stress again how important an inexpensive soil analysis is to all this.
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