(Family Features)—Behind every lush lawn is a power-packed fertilizer. Fertilizer supports healthy growth by heightening grass density, lowering ambient temperature and building resistance to the elements, pests and weeds, according to the experts at TruGreen. It also helps deepen pigment, resulting in a vibrant green lawn. We all want that!
Select and apply fertilizer specific to your lawn with these tips:
1. Identify the Grass – The grass will help determine which type of fertilizer to apply. Warm-season grass turns brown after the first frost; cool-season grass stays green nearly all year in cool and transitional zones, but will turn brown in summer in warm-season zones.
Southern states tend to support warm-season grasses, such as Bermudagrass or Zoysiagrass, while northern states house cool-season grasses, like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass or tall fescue. Across the central states are large sections of transitional areas, which are home to both warm- and cool-season grasses.
2. Determine Soil Type and Drainage – Your fertilizer selection will also depend on the soil type of your lawn. Sandy soil drains well, giving grass plenty of access to oxygen; however, nutrients can leach out with draining water. Clays and other poor-draining soils can be fertile, but can still result in unhealthy grass.
3. Learn the Number System – Bags of lawn fertilizer feature three numbers, such as 28-3-5 or 20-5-10, which represent the percentages of nutrients. The first number is nitrogen (N), which helps grass grow and become greener. The second number is phosphorus (P), which stimulates root and seedling development. The third is potassium (K), which promotes tolerance against disease and drought.
Avoid fertilizers containing high amounts of phosphorus, unless establishing new turf by seed, or if a deficiency indicates otherwise.
4. Know Your Options – Most in-store fertilizers come in two categories: quick-release and slow-release. Quick-release granules send nutrients to the soil fast, which helps the lawn green up in a shorter time span, but also increases the risk of damage and disease if the product is over-applied. Slow-release fertilizers may not provide immediate results, but they will require less frequent applications.
5. Set a Schedule – Striking the proper balance when fertilizing is essential. Too much can leave fertilizer burn, and too little can leave your yard prone to weeds. Be sure to follow the directions on the bag, or, consider hiring an expert to assess your lawn—he or she can pinpoint the ideal times to fertilize.