Fertilizer is the secret to a vibrant garden
Itʼs no secret that fertilizer is the secret to a vibrant garden, but which to use and when to use it remains a mystery. With three large numbers on the front, a bag of fertilizer can seem more like an algebra problem than a gardener ʼs friend.
"When the warm weather hits, homeowners are full of questions about how to get lush, green grass," says John Mansz, a Canadian lawn and garden specialist. "The two most common questions people ask are: Whatʼs in the bag of fertilizer and what do those numbers mean?"
Fertilizer contains very important nutrients for your plants and soil. Every fertilizer bag has three large numbers on the front, which represent three key nutrients that your grass and plants donʼt get from the soil–nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. The higher the number, the greater the percentage of that nutrient there is in the fertilizer. Here are tips for selecting lawn fertilizer:
1. Conduct a soil test on your yard at least once every three years. The test results will tell exactly what nutrients your soil needs.
2. Find the right fertilizer mix to give your lawn the nutrients it needs. Read the fertilizer analysis to discover the percentages of nutrients in the fertilizer. Match your soil test results to the nutrient analysis.
3. Make sure the fertilizer you choose has a slow nitrogen release rate. Your lawn needs a constant supply of nutrients to help it grow. The release rate dictates how fast the grass will become green, how much it will grow, how heavy the clippings will be, how long the results will last and how much fertilizer will be wasted by "runoff." You want a steady and controlled release rate.
"The four tell-tale signs that your grass needs nitrogen are pale in colour, doesnʼt grow when it rains, grows in uneven patches or is spotty in colour," says Mansz.
Now, all that stands between you and a beautiful yard of thick green grass is spreading the fertilizer. Before applying the fertilizer, look at the size of the granules. If the bag contains different sized granules, make sure you mix the product well before spreading. If it is not mixed well, youʼll have some areas getting too much of one nutrient and not enough of another, explains Mansz. Spread the fertilizer evenly over your entire yard and wait. In just a few days, you should begin to notice a change.