A beautiful house includes the building and the plush green lawn outside. The beautiful green grass adds to the aesthetic value of the whole frame; and it requires food, water and protection for its survival. The lawn mostly feeds itself from the environment but, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous enriched fertilizers ensure its health and lushness.
Nitrogen provides rich green color, strength and thickness to the grass diseases. Potassium provides strength to roots, leaves and makes the grass disease resistant. Phosphorous ensures strong root growth.
Fertilizers are available in various percentage blends of the above three elements and are represented with a three-digit number like, 12-6-8 or 30-10-10 (known as NPK value) where the numbers denote the respective percentages of Nitrogen- Phosphorous- Potassium present. Some secondary elements may also be present such as, Calcium for root growth, Sulfur for the color and Magnesium for sugar formation. Before choosing the type and blend of fertilizer, one must have a thorough knowledge of the climate, soil type, grass type and the current condition of the lawn.
Apart from the different chemical composition of fertilizers, they are categorized in to four basic types –
Granular Fertilizers – Available in dry bagged forms and are easy to use and spread. Two varieties are available in the market – fast-release and slow-release. Though the fast-release fertilizers are less expensive slow-release fertilizers are more popular due to their longevity. They slowly release the nutrients over a period of 2-6 months and hence no frequent application is needed. Due to the slow release, there are less chances of burning and leeching. Best results are obtained during warm weather and regular watering.
Liquid Fertilizers – Available in a concentrated liquid form and a power hose is mandatory for its spraying. Its application is very easy and also provides an immediate effect. It spreads easily, so, the chances of burning is minimum, but, it involves high expense and repeated application.
Synthetic Fertilizers – Manufactured in factories and provide better penetration, rapid action, easy application, better color and are cheaper. But, the chances of burn is more if not spread properly, and they produce temporary effects and hence, need more applications.
Organic Fertilizers – Produced from once-living organisms or their by-products. They break down slowly and release nitrogen and improve the texture and surface of the lawn. But, their application is difficult, results are unpredictable and are often associated with a strong foul smell.
Application of fertilizers also depends on the type of grass present in the lawn, such as warm-season grass like, Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass and cool-season grass like, Bent grass, Bluegrass and Rye grass.
Warm season grass mostly grow during late spring to early summer. First application of fertilizers in early spring is helpful for the growth. In summer, light application of slow-release fertilizers is advised with systematic watering. Regular application is needed where lawns stay green all year. Early spring and early fall is good time for full fertilization. The grass should not be fertilized during late fall as they may become more susceptible to cold weather injury.
Cool-season grass thrive well with an early fall light feeding to promote root growth and helps the grass to store more carbohydrate and survive the harsh winter dormancy period. Mid spring application promotes dense foliage. Summer or late spring application of fast acting fertilizers is strictly prohibited.