If you want your lawn to grow strong and healthy, you must make sure it is properly fertilized. In addition to water, sunlight, and appropriate temperatures, your lawn requires nutrients to grow firm, strong roots that can anchor it to the soil.
That is where fertilizer can be helpful. Fertilizer contains a variety of nutrients that can ensure your lawn has a strong foundation, but there are lots of options available. How do you know you have chosen the right fertilizer for your lawn?
Why Is Lawn Fertilizer Important?
Even though many of the nutrients to support your lawn should be found in the soil naturally, fertilizer is important because it can help your lawn thrive. In general, fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients are critical for providing your roots with the support they need.
Fertilizer is particularly important if your soil does not contain all of the nutrients your lawn requires throughout the entire year. It can provide your lawn with additional nutrients that can support new leaf growth and protect your roots throughout the year.
What You Need To Know About Lawn Fertilizer
When you are evaluating fertilizer, one of the first things you should take a look at is the nutrition listed on the side of the bag. You should see three numbers present. In order, they are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Different fertilizers have these nutrients in different amounts, and you need to use this information to figure out which fertilizer is best for your needs.
These nutrients are important for the following reasons:
- Nitrogen is critical for providing your leaves with the lush, green color with which you are familiar.
- Phosphorus is important for helping your roots grow. The phosphorus content can vary widely, and different phosphorus contents are appropriate for lawns of different ages.
- Potassium is important because it makes your grass more resistant to environmental stresses. Potassium can help your lawn survive changes in temperature and water amounts.
There are a lot of people who refer to these nutrients as up, down, all around. What this means is that nitrogen is important for the “upper” portion of your lawn (the leaves), phosphorus is important for the portion of your lawn that is “down,” (the root system), and potassium is important for the entirety of your lawn, allowing it to resist cold temperatures and drought.
What Are the Different Types of Fertilizers?
There are lots of different types of fertilizers, and it is helpful to divide them into multiple categories. The right type of fertilizer for one lawn is not necessarily going to be the right type of fertilizer for yours. All of these fertilizers are appropriate for different situations, and you should be familiar with all of them.
Some of the most common types of fertilizers include:
- All-Purpose Fertilizer: All-purpose fertilizer is generally called 10-10-10 fertilizer. That means it contains an even number of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This is a solid fertilizer for a wide variety of lawns, but if you want to address a specific issue with your lawn or soil, you may want to choose a different option. If you are looking for fertilizer that will do an adequate job under most conditions, this could be the right choice.
- Quick-Green Fertilizer: Quick-green fertilizer gets its name because it can help your lawn turn green quickly. If your lawn is already firmly established in the ground, the high nitrogen content in this fertilizer can help you get the green color you are looking for. If the root system is not established, this fertilizer might not do what you expect.
- Insect Control Fertilizer: Ants, ticks, and fleas can cause damage to your lawn. This fertilizer can be applied throughout the year to kill harmful insects that may otherwise eat your grass.
- Moss Control Fertilizer: Moss control fertilizer has been designed to kill moss and fungus on your lawn without killing the surrounding grass. One of the most common reasons you might have fungus on your lawn is that water can sit on your lawn overnight. If you need to kill moss and fungus, consider using this type of fertilizer.
- Weed and Feed Fertilizer: Weed and feed fertilizers are designed to provide nutrition for your lawn while also suppressing the growth of weeds. The nutrients in this fertilizer will increase the strength of the root structure, while other ingredients will prevent weeds from growing.
- Weed Killers: Weed-killing fertilizer is designed to kill already appeared weeds. The most common examples include black clover, chickweed, and crabgrass. Weed-killing fertilizer will not kill all types of weeds, so you should figure out what types of weeds you have before choosing a weed-killing fertilizer.
These are a few of the most common types of fertilizers that you might use to feed and protect your lawn. There are also types of fertilizers that you can use to kill all types of plants present, including your grass. You should only reach for this fertilizer if you want to completely remove all foliage from your lawn, as they generally work quickly.
What Are the Different Types of Grass?
Before you can select the best type of fertilizer for your lawn, you need to understand the different types of grass that you might have. Some of the most common types of grass that people use for their lawns include:
- Bentgrass: This type of grass is frequently found on golf courses, particularly throughout the northern United States. It generally grows well in cooler temperatures, forming a lawn with a nice, fine texture to it. It generally requires a lot of fungicides, fertilizer, and water, but it can create a beautiful lawn.
- Bermuda Grass: Bermuda grass is popular throughout the Southern United States, particularly on golf courses. It will grow well even if you mow it close to the ground, and it forms a dense lawn. It requires a lot of maintenance, such as regular fertilizing, frequent watering, and regular mowing.
- Centipede Grass: Centipede grass is also popular in the South because it tolerates humid environments. On the other hand, it does not tolerate dry climates, so if it does not rain for a while, this type of grass will require supplemental watering.
- Fine Fescue: Fine fescue encompasses a handful of species, and they all grow fine-textured glass with blades that resemble needles. This type of grass does not grow well in hot temperatures, but it does grow well in the shade. It is frequently found throughout the Northeast and Central United States.
- Kentucky Bluegrass: Kentucky Bluegrass is one of the most popular types of grass in the north. It has a nice texture and a dark green color and grows well-using seeds. It has a strong root system but does not grow well in the shade.
- Ryegrass: Many people like ryegrass because it has a shiny color. It also grows quickly, and it does well at cool temperatures. It is popular in the northern United States, but this grass can struggle if it gets too cold.
- Zoysia Grass: Zoysia Grass forms a lawn that looks like a carpet. It may feel prickly, but it is popular in the midwestern United States. It is also popular in the north, but keep in mind that it will turn brown when it gets cold outside. It does not grow as quickly as some other types of grass, so it will not require as much mowing; however, the heads will start to produce seeds if they are not mowed.
These are a few of the most popular types of grass found throughout the United States. You need to know what type of grass you have if you want to select the best fertilizer.
How To Choose Fertilizer for Your Lawn
Given that so many options are available if you are looking for fertilizer for your lawn, how do you choose the right one to meet your needs? Some of the most important factors to consider include the following:
- If your lawn is already established and healthy, you need a fertilizer with plenty of nitrogen but less potassium. Nitrogen is generally less expensive than phosphorus or potassium, so you might have an opportunity to save money. Nitrogen is helpful because it will ensure your lawn looks green, but you don't need the excess phosphorus because a healthy lawn already has a strong root system.
- Your lawn may need help developing a robust root system if it is relatively new. Therefore, you should look for a fertilizer with lower amounts of nitrogen but higher amounts of phosphorus and potassium. The extra phosphorus and potassium are essential because they ensure your lawn has a strong root system.
- If you feel like your lawn is having difficulty surviving, you need to select a fertilizer with more potassium. Extra potassium is important because it can help you support your lawn if there is a lack of rain or the temperatures are outside the normal range.
- If you have difficulty controlling weeds and insects in your yard, you may want to select a fertilizer designed to deal with these conditions.
- If your lawn has been over-fertilized, you may want to use a gradual-release fertilizer. That way, you do not overwhelm your lawn with too much nitrogen. You may also want to stay away from liquid fertilizer, as liquid fertilizer is harder to manage and control than granular fertilizer. It might be difficult to see exactly how much fertilizer you have added if you use liquid fertilizer.
- Do you want to go with a synthetic fertilizer or an organic fertilizer? Synthetic fertilizer is generally a better option if you want quick results; synthetic fertilizer is much easier to overwhelm your lawn, leading to fertilizer burn. Organic fertilizer has been made using living organisms. They take longer to work, but you have a lower risk of over-fertilizing your lawn. In addition, they are generally better for the environment.
Remember that you can also look at a few reviews and read the packaging before selecting a fertilizer for your lawn. This information can help you determine what type of fertilizer is best for certain types of grass.
The Best Lawn Fertilizer: A Few Examples
Now that you understand what to look for as you are examining different options for fertilizer, it is time to take a look at a few specific examples. Some of the most popular options for lawn fertilizers include:
1. The Best Starter Fertilizer: Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass
If you plan on installing new grass, you may want to go with Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass. This fertilizer works well for plugs, sod, and seeds. It has a nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium ratio of 24:25:4. It has plenty of nutrients to help the root system grow strong and plenty of nitrogen to help your lawn look lush and green.
This fertilizer contains small granules that should dissolve in the soil quickly, helping your grass grow in just a few weeks. It is also one of the most cost-effective options on the market. Remember that it can run off into the water system if applied in excess, so keep a close eye on the fertilizer as you put it down.
2. The Best Fertilizer for Colder Temperatures: Scotts Turf Builder Fall Lawn Food 32-0-10
If you are looking for a fertilizer that will work well when the temperature gets cold outside, you should consider going with Scotts Turf Builder Fall Lawn Food 32-0-10. This fertilizer is great for a wide variety of grass types, particularly those that are still recovering from the stress of the summer.
Keep in mind that this fertilizer does have a fair amount of nitrogen. Therefore, it might not be suitable for young lawns that do not have a strong root system to support rapid growth. When you apply this formula, make sure you use plenty of water to activate the granules in the fertilizer. This will help the nutrients absorb into the soil better.
3. The Best Fertilizer For an Established Lawn: Safer Brand 9334 Restore Lawn Fertilizer
If you have an already established lawn, you still need to ensure it has the necessary nutrients. Therefore, you should consider going with Safer Brand 9334 Restore Lawn Fertilizer, which has a nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium ratio of 9:0:2. It does not have any phosphorus your lawn should not need any phosphorus because it is already established and has a strong root system.
The extra nitrogen is important because it should contribute to a solid, green color. In addition, this is an odorless product, so you should not have to worry about sneezing or coughing as you apply it. This fertilizer acts quickly; you should see results in just a few days. On the other hand, it is a bit more expensive than some of the other options on the market.
4. The Best Synthetic Fertilizer: Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Fertilizer
If you need a solid synthetic fertilizer for your lawn, you should consider going with Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Fertilizer. This is one of the least expensive fertilizers on the market, and it will act very quickly. Furthermore, it is water soluble, so the nutrients should absorb into the soil easily. It does not take a lot of work to apply, and you should see results in just a few weeks. It has lots of nitrogen and chelated iron for fast, green results.
Keep in mind that you do need to use caution when you apply this fertilizer. Because it works quickly, it is also easy to over-fertilize your lawn. You also need to make sure it will not run off into the water and it is not safe for your pets.
5. The Best Organic Fertilizer: Andersons Innova Organic Fertilizer
If you are looking for an organic fertilizer for your lawn, you may want to consider going with Andersons Innova Organic Fertilizer. This fertilizer will provide your lawn with a steady supply of nutrients. It has a nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio of 7:1:2. It contains granules that should not damage your lawn, and the fertilizer is easy to apply without irritating your nasal passages.
Furthermore, this formula has been specifically designed to avoid running off into nearby waterways. It is perfect for ensuring your soil’s ecosystem is happy and healthy, and it provides carbon that should fuel your lawn for steady, consistent growth.
Ultimately, different fertilizers are best for different situations. Make sure you compare each option's benefits and drawbacks before deciding which one is best for your lawn.
What do you think?
Which do you think is the best fertilizer for new sod? Let us know in the comments below which one is your favorite or if you have other remedies.
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