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Fertilizing for beginners

6/26/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Fertilizing a lawn is a springtime tradition for many homeowners. Winter can take its toll on a lawn, but fertilizer can go a long way toward helping a lawn recover from harsh weather. While lawn-and-garden enthusiasts might know the ins and outs of fertilizing a lawn, novices might need a little help as they look to restore their lawns.

  • Find out what your lawn needs. Even novice green thumbers likely know that overfertilization can harm a lawn, and that’s a big reason many homeowners approach fertilizing their lawn with some trepidation. A lush lawn adds to the curb appeal of a home, while a lawn that’s patchy or appears to be poorly taken care of can lower property value. Before fertilizing a lawn, homeowners should determine the needs of their lawns. A soil test can determine if the lawn has any nutrient deficiencies.
  • Don’t overdo it with nitrogen. Fertilizing with too much nitrogen is a common mistake, as too much nitrogen can be harmful, decreasing root growth and increasing a lawn’s susceptibility to disease. A slow-release fertilizer might be an option, as such fertilizers break down nutrients over a longer period of time, which also allows homeowners to extend the intervals between fertilizing sessions. But a lawn can get nitrogen from other sources as well. Such sources include grass clippings or raked leaves left on the lawn after being shredded by a mulching mower.
  • Consider using granules instead of spray. Spraying a lawn with fertilizer might seem like the easiest and quickest way to fertilize, but spraying is typically best left to the professionals. That’s because novices often struggle to evenly apply the fertilizer when spraying, and many do not account for the wind when spraying fertilizer. A traditional spreader that fertilizes a lawn with granules makes it easier for nonprofessionals to apply the fertilizer accurately and evenly. Before fertilizing with granules, read the package to determine if you need to water the lawn before application, as some fertilizers are only effective when applied to a lawn after it has been watered. Also, be sure to fill the spreader on asphalt instead of the lawn. Chances are you’re going to spill granules when filling the spreader, and such spills can be harmful to the lawn.
  • Plan to fertilize several times. Some homeowners only fertilize twice a year, once in the spring and then once again in the fall. But fertilizer should be applied multiple times throughout the year, beginning in the early spring. The first time to fertilize is when the soil temperature reaches roughly 55 F, which is often evident because grass typically starts to grow again when the soil reaches that temperature. Fertilize again roughly a month after fertilizer is first applied, and then do so every six to eight weeks after through October. Professionals often recommend using an organic material during the third fertilizing session.

 

This information was provided courtesy of MetroCreativeConnection.

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