You must ensure you take appropriate care of your lawn if you want it to survive and thrive. This means paying attention to the amount of water you provide, ensuring you pick the right type of grass for your climate, and paying attention to the amount of fertilizer you use.
Fertilizer is important because it provides the necessary nutrients for your lawn to take root and grow, but you can overfertilize it. How do you calculate the appropriate amount of fertilizer for your lawn, and why should you avoid overfertilizing it?
What Is the Right Amount of Fertilizer for My Lawn?
First, understand that recommendations for lawn fertilizer are usually calculated in terms of pounds of nitrogen for 1,000 square feet. Therefore, you need to understand how much square footage to figure out how much fertilizer to apply.
- First, calculate the percentage of nitrogen in your fertilizer. You should be able to find nitrogen in your fertilizer bag. It is the first number listed in the three-number series on your fertilizer. This number represents the percentage of nitrogen in the bag.
- For example, if you see that your fertilizer is 25 percent nitrogen, you would need to provide four pounds of fertilizer to apply one pound of nitrogen to your lawn.
- Now, you need to figure out how large your lawn is. You should divide your lawn into squares and triangles to simplify the calculation.
- Now that you know the square footage of your yard, you need to consider the recommended amount of nitrogen for 1,000 square feet. For example, if your lawn is 2,000 square feet, and the recommendation is two pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, you need to add four total pounds of nitrogen. Use the percentage of nitrogen in your fertilizer to figure out how much fertilizer to add to your lawn to get to four pounds of fertilizer.
These steps can help you determine the appropriate amount of fertilizer to add to your lawn.
Why Should You Avoid Overfertilizing Your Lawn?
Too often, homeowners believe that if some fertilizer is good, more is better. In reality, that is not the case. If you apply too much fertilizer to your lawn, the nitrogen and salt near the root system will increase too quickly. Ultimately, they may rise so much that they can kill your lawn.
Furthermore, if you apply too much fertilizer, the blades of your grass might grow too quickly, outstripping the root system. This means that your roots can no longer absorb enough nutrients from the soil to support the plant, contributing to a weaker lawn.
Finally, if the fertilizer stays on the surface because it cannot absorb into the soil, it might be washed away by the water. It could damage other plants in the area, and the fertilizer itself might end up in the water supply. Therefore, you should follow the fertilization recommendations provided above.
The Top Signs You Have Overfertilized Your Lawn
Description of an overfertilized lawn is typically called a “fertilizer burn.” There are a few signs and symptoms you might notice. They include:
- You might notice yellow or brown tips forming on the edges of your grass. These spots might start small, but they will get larger over time.
- Your lawn may look a bit yellow, crusty, and limp. This typically means that the excess salt in the fertilizer has stripped the moisture from the plant, causing it to crust over.
- If you pull a few blades of grass out of the ground, you might notice that the root system is black.
- Eventually, you may notice that your lawn stops growing completely.
These are a few signs that might indicate that you have applied too much fertilizer to your lawn. You should only apply enough fertilizer to help the lawn grow properly. You must be patient, give your lawn time to grow, and let nature take its course.
How To Fix an Overfertilized Lawn: The Steps
It can be frustrating if you realize you have over-fertilized your lawn. Fortunately, you do not necessarily need to despair. There are a few steps you can follow to help your lawn recover. Some of the steps you need to follow include:
1. Check the Root System
First, you must check the root system to see how much damage has been done. Check different sections of your lawn, pull up a few grass blades, and look at the root system itself. Do the roots still look healthy? If so, you may need to apply some extra water to balance out the excess salt. On the other hand, if the roots appear limp and black, you may need to replant that section of your lawn.
2. Remove the Excess Fertilizer
Remember that there might still be some fertilizer on the surface of your lawn. You do not want to continue fertilizing your lawn if you have already given it too much fertilizer. You may want to use a broom to sweep the fertilizer off the lawn and onto the road or driveway. Then, clean up the excess fertilizer to prevent it from absorbing into your lawn.
3. Apply More Water To The Soil
As alluded to above, excess salt can strip the moisture from your lawn, leading to many of the problems discussed above. Therefore, to reverse this issue, you must provide plenty of water for your lawn.
Eventually, if you water your lawn enough, you should balance out the excess fertilizer you have applied. How do you know when you have given your lawn enough water? You should keep watering your lawn until it cannot absorb any extra water. You could also apply water to areas of your lawn that still look healthy.
You do not want water to start pooling on the soil. Therefore, water your lawn more frequently to ensure the soil has time to absorb. If excess water sits on your lawn overnight, it can be a nidus for fungus growth.
4. Continue Watering Regularly for a Few Weeks
Generally, applying some extra water will be enough to fix a lawn with too much fertilizer. A good rule of thumb is to provide approximately one inch of water daily for a week or two. Remember to spread that inch of water over the day and avoid watering your lawn in the evening to prevent fungus growth.
After two weeks, it is time to look at the root system. If you see new roots coming in, you know you have fixed the issue. If you do not see new roots forming, it is time to plant new grass.
Avoid Applying Too Much Fertilizer
Whether you have saved your current lawn or planted a new one, avoiding applying too much fertilizer is important. Some of the tips to keep in mind include the following:
- Consider using a granular fertilizer instead of a liquid variety. It is easier to see granular fertilizer, so you should have a lower chance of applying too much.
- Consider using a slow-release fertilizer. These fertilizers release their minerals slowly over an extended period, making you less likely to apply too much fertilizer.
- Water your lawn regularly. Even if it looks healthy, you must apply plenty of water to encourage lawn growth and prevent excess salt concentrations in the soil.
Remember that if you have any questions, you can contact a professional who can help you ensure you are applying enough fertilizer and water.
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