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6 Lawn Fertilizing Tips

Learn six valuable lawn fertilizing tips from landscape architect Patrick Weisel in this Howcast video.


A lot of people ask about fertilizing their lawn. The important thing to remember when fertilizing your lawn is that there's two parts to that. There's the fertilizer, and there's the spreader. So first, let's talk
about the fertilizer. With any fertilizer, the first thing to look for are; there's going to be three numbers on any fertilizer bag. Those represent NPK, or the nitrogen, the phosphorus, and the potassium. And those are the three essential elements that turf needs to stay healthy. The most important one is going to be the first number, though, which is the nitrogen. It's going to either be a very high number, which means it's a chemical fertilizer and you're not going to need very much of it. Or it's going to be a low number, which means it's an organic fertilizer and you're probably going to need a lot of that fertilizer.

Now once you've chosen the fertilizer, then the question is, how do you apply it to your lawn? Or how much do you use? Now for the amateur, the key would be to buy a fertilizer and use a spreader that has some kind of matching numbers on it. Your fertilizer bag should tell you, if you use this model of spreader, then you need put it on this number setting. So, the pros use a lot of mathematical calculations where they calculate the amount of nitrogen that is in the bag, the area of the lawn, and that's really too difficult for the average homeowner. For the novice, the thing to do is to make sure that you buy a fertilizer that has a number or a setting on it for your particular spreader. And that's the way to make sure that you're putting down the right amount.

Now there are two basic kinds of spreaders that you might want to use for your lawn. One is called a drop spreader, and just like it says, when you push it the fertilizer that is in it drops straight down between the two wheels. Now obviously that's going to take a lot of passes, and you're going to need to be fairly precise in how you overlap those passes that you make sure you don't get green stripes in your lawn. The more popular model is the broadcast spreader. And just like it's name's applies, when you push this spreader there is a wheel that turns around and it throws the fertilizer out over a large area, or broadcasts it. So this is going to take a lot less passes for your lawn, and more importantly, it requires a lot less precision because it's spreading it out over a large area.

Now, we've already talked about matching your fertilizer to the setting on your lawn. You may also want to go to a little bit lower setting and then do passes on your lawn perpendicular to each other. Go one of set of passes this way across the lawn, and then another set of passes this way. And that insures that you don't end up with green stripes on your lawn later when some of the grass is growing very vigorously, and other is not growing at all. Now a word of caution. A lot of people think, "Well, fertilizer is good for my lawn, so a lot of fertilizer is a lot good.'' That's just not the case. Remember, always, always, always follow the directions on the bag. And never be tempted to go to a higher setting because you don't see it coming out of the spreader. Believe me, it's working.

If you use too much fertilizer, you can actually burn your lawn and do it a lot of damage. So always follow the instructions on the bag, match your fertilizer to your spreader, and do two passes perpendicular to each other so that you make sure you get good coverage on your lawn, and don't end up with green streaks a week or two later when some of it starts growing. One last word of caution, never be tempted to spread the fertilizer by hand. I know that's a temptation if you don't have the spreader, but believe me, you're going to end up putting down too much fertilizer and it's going to burn or kill your lawn.

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