Fertilizer For Lawns – What Type Of Lawn Fertilizer To Use

Turf Builder Full Of Lawn Fertilizer On A Green Lawn
lawn fertilizer
(Image credit: Dole08)

A healthy, green lawn is a joy to sink bare feet into and complements the landscape. The best fertilizer for grass will promote healthy turf and minimize weed and pest issues with a thick mat that resists these problems. There are many types of lawn fertilizer on the market, or you can use home-grown methods to enhance the vigor of your grass. Choosing the right food for lawns begins with understanding grass fertilizer numbers and knowing your soil and sod type.

Grass Fertilizer Numbers

Lawn maintenance is more than just mowing, thatching, and aerating. Turfgrass is a heavy feeder and requires regular moisture to look its best. All plants benefit from basic macro and micro-nutrients. Grass, in particular, needs extra macro-nutrients which can come from air and water, but which are used in such quantity that supplemental applications are beneficial. These main nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and are symbolized on grass foods as N-P-K. A soil test is a great way to decide which of these ratios is needed in the highest amount. The ratio of nutrients on any plant food is represented by N-P-K and states the amount of each. For instance, a 10-10-10 is a balanced food with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

  • Nitrogen promotes foliar growth and color.
  • Phosphorus is useful in encouraging flower and root growth, and early establishment.
  • Potassium in lawns enhances the plant’s ability to use nitrogen.

Soil tests are easy to use and will indicate which, if any, nutrient the area might be deficient in. This will tell you which nutrient ratio needs to be highest. Other factors for choosing what type of lawn fertilizer to use are warm or cool-season grass varieties, soil pH, whether you prefer organic or synthetic formulas, and the timing to feed your grass in your zone.

Understanding the Types of Lawn Fertilizer

Using fertilizer for lawns is an effective way to prevent disease and pest damage and minimize maintenance. What type of lawn fertilizer should you use?

  • There are time-release fertilizers that are beneficial for feeding the lawn over many months and prevent the gardener from having to remember to feed again at a certain time.
  • The gradual release also allows plant roots to harvest the nutrients they need slowly, preventing necessary elements from leaching away into the soil. This type of food is easy to apply and minimizes the chance of burning the lawn.
  • Granular fertilizers may be time-release or slow release. Either way, they are popular due to the ease of application.
  • Liquid or water-soluble fertilizers are spread using a hose and provide a quick, effective way to introduce nutrients rapidly to grassroots.

Many of these forms come in either synthetic or organic forms.

  • Synthetic formulas are chemical and offer immediate release and quick greening of the lawn.
  • Organic formulas are naturally made from once-living organisms or their byproducts.

The choice is yours on which application type and formula to use on your lawn.

No Muss No Fuss Fertilizer for Lawns

The lazy gardener can combine a need for organic, homemade treatment and provide much of the same benefits as purchased products. The easiest way to develop a healthy lawn without adding purchased items is to mow it. Mow leaves onto the lawn and leave the clippings. If you mow frequently enough, the thatch will not build up because shorter clippings will compost in quicker and start amending the soil and adding nutrients. The combination of grass clippings and dried leaves hasten the composting process because one is a carbon source and the other is primarily a nitrogen source. This is a one-two punch in the composting world, which breaks down more quickly than nitrogen alone from the clippings. You may find this the best fertilizer for grass and save some pennies along the way.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.