The three numbers on the fertilizer bag refer to the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer.
|Lawns||Annual Gardens||Trees and Shrubs|
|Best fertilizer||3 parts nitrogen, 1 part phosphorus, 2 parts potassium (or a formula with the same ratio of these ingre- dients, i.e. (6-2-4, 12-4-8, etc)
Lime. For new lawns apply 10 pounds of lime per 100 square feet. For established lawns apply 3.5 pounds per 100 square feet every year on sandy soil, every other year on clay. Use dolomite lime every other time.
|Balanced fertilizer (5-5-5, 10-10-10, etc) or soil test recommendation.
Lime. Sandy soils – mix in 3 pounds of lime per 100 square feet once every 2 years. Clay soils — mix in 6 pounds of lime per 100 square feet once every 2 years.
|Use a low phosphorus fertilizer. Organic mulches can provide most nutrient needs.|
|When||September, if once a year; May and September if twice a year.||At planting and mid-season.||Fertilize when growth starts in spring, only if plants are stunted or show signs of need, or as indicated by soil tests.|
|How||Fertilizer spreader.||Mix into soil below transplants and seeds or in shallow bands along rows of plants.||Scratch into soil in a circle below the outer edge of branch growth and cover with mulch.|
|How Much||1 lb nitrogen per 1000 sq ft.||Follow fertilizer label or soil test recommendation.||Follow label or soil test recommendation.|
The simplest way to fertilize your lawn is to acquire a lawncare service. Simply call them, and sign up. Then, all you do is pay the bill annually, and cut your lawn as needed. If you are reading this article, you are probably planning to “do it yourself” and with good cause, as there are a number of advantages.
Those advantages include:
It is less expensive to do it yourself. You have the initial investment of purchasing a spreader. You can then buy individual bags of fertilizer, or a packaged deal that includes a number of treatments for the year, usually three or four step treatments.
Tip: Buying the annual package is much cheaper than buying individual bags.
You can control when you apply the fertilizer. Lawn care services schedule your lawn along with hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of others. They may not arrive at the ideal time for an application.
You can control how much to apply. Different areas of your lawn may have somewhat different soil, sunlight and moisture. You can apply more or less in these areas, depending upon how naturally healthy that section is.
While it is only a little light exercise, any exercise is good for you.
When to Apply
There are a variety of different fertilizer applications. With the exceptions of “Weed and Feed”, it is best to apply them just before a rainfall as they need to be watered in. Fertilizers with weed killers need to sit on the lawn for a day or two, to allow the weedkiller to do it’s task. Then, it should be watered in.
Try to time your applications to the next rainfall. If you can’t, bring out the hoses and sprinklers. Never apply “Weed and Feed” just before rain is expected, as you are only harming the environment.
There are a variety of different applications and types of thinking about how often to apply fertilizers. It also depends upon the area and climate you live in. Length of season plays a role. Some people in some areas will apply a fertilizer once a year, with others as many as five. The most common is three or four. Lawn and Garden stores will have packages specific to your area. If you are uncertain, stop by and ask about the options, and the pros and cons of each one.
Tip: Weed and Feed fertilizers are most effective against weeds, if applied when the lawn is wet, as more chemical will stick to the weeds.
How to Apply
We recommend applying 1/2 the application rate and going over your lawn twice in a criss-cross pattern. We recommend this method any time you are applying anything to your lawn. It helps to eliminate the “Honey, you missed a spot” comments a week or two later.
Lawn Fertilizers are chemicals and there is a safety factor to be attentive to. Here are some tips and reminders on safety in using fertilizers:
Keep out of reach of children and pets.
Store it in a safe and dry place.
Use gloves in handling the chemicals. Nitrogen in the fertilizer can burn. If you have a cut, you will find this out quickly.
Be reasonable in applying fertilizers. They easily leach into streams and the water table. They can also leach into your garden.
Keep children and pets off the lawn after applying any fertilizers until you have watered it well, or significant rainfall has occurred.
Be courteous to your neighbor and tell them you have applied the chemicals.
Read instructions carefully…and follow them.
If you do get exposed to the chemicals, wash them off immediately. Then, call your doctor.