As you were barbecuing over this last weekend, you may have noticed that your lawn is a little less than the picturesque thick green carpet that you wish it to be. You are starting to think that it may be time to add a little bit of something extra to your lawn to help it get back to its glory days. Good for you in doing your due diligence and researching fertilizer and all its incredible properties! There are so many things to know about your lawn food before going out and investing in fertilizer. Using fertilizer is like a machine in that there are many cogs to be taken into consideration. And we all know that in the war against your lawn, knowing is half the battle.

What does fertilizer do?

Fertilizer, at its simplest, is food for anything that grows. It provides nutrients that your plants need that it doesn’t get from the sun’s rays, regular watering, or the soil that the plant sits in. While some plants like grass grow in all types of climates, all soil is not created equally. Or anywhere close to the same. Florida’s soil is almost entirely sand, Washington state is primarily volcanic ash soil, and our soil is Harney silt loam. (Fun fact: this is our official state soil since 1990 – yes, state soils are a thing!) We all know that our plants, flowers, and grass need sun, liquid sun (that precious rainfall or the type you provide on a regular schedule, and soil to grow in. You may not realize that there are particular minerals that your plants and grass need to thrive. And this should come as no surprise – they are living things, after all, just like us humans, and we require specific vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and to grow. Potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous are the main ingredients to cook up a happy, healthy lawn. When you don’t get the calcium, vitamin C, and iron your body needs, bones start to break down, your immune system fails, and your blood can’t run through your body correctly. Without potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, your plants will weekend and refused to grow. They can even die out completely. Fertilizers are built around providing these particular nutrients to your lawn and flowerbed spaces.

What are the different types of fertilizer?

Fertilizers are broken down into several different categories. The first significant branch of the fertilizer tree is natural or organic, and inorganic or artificial. Both fertilizers have advantages and disadvantages and are often dependant on your lawn, your choices and personal preferences, and your soil needs. Many people decide to go the organic route for reasons of environmental impact. There are lots of folks who prefer not to introduce chemicals into their soil as much as possible. Organic fertilizers take their time setting into your soil and will therefore not produce results quickly. Because organic fertilizers come from compost, they tend not to be specific about what nutrients you are introducing to your soil. All-natural fertilizers also don’t have designated amounts of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous (PNP), so it can be tricky to ensure that if your soil lacks specific things, it’s getting exactly what it needs. They also can tend to be a bit pricey, but if you compost yourself, they can be completely free. Inorganic fertilizers introduce specific things that your soil needs in particular amounts. Maybe your soil is lacking in potassium specifically, or phosphorus and nitrogen specifically. Due to their artificial makeup, inorganic fertilizers allow you to introduce particular vitamins and minerals into your soil that it particularly needs. Inorganic fertilizers also are considered a quick fix to any of the soil issues your property may be having. Because it leaves out anything that your soil may not need, it can get to the root of the issue immediately and start fixing them right away. The most significant disadvantage to inorganic fertilizers is that they are inorganic. Many folks prefer not to go the route of having chemicals introduced in their soil and choose organic methods.

How can you tell what is best for my landscape?

The fastest and most effective way to determine your landscape needs is to have a core soil sample taken and evaluated. This will tell your professional what nutrients may be lacking and what fertilizer may be the best option for you. Once this evaluation has been complete, you will have the opportunity to try and go either the organic or inorganic route. If your soil needs all three nutrients in relatively equal amounts, going the organic way is pretty simple in ensuring that the compost contains food rich in all three minerals. Or, if your soil needs a particular mineral more than the rest, inorganic may be a great option as each mineral is measured out precisely to provide your soil with exactly what it needs.

How much and when should fertilizer be used?

Here is where fertilizer gets a little tricky. While it’s tempting to go pick yourself out a great fertilizer and start spreading the news all over your landscape, this is a bad idea. There are precise times of year that you should lay down fertilizer and very particular amounts of fertilizer that you should use, so your landscape isn’t saturated with too much of a good thing. September is a prime month to lay down fertilizer if your grass calls for a once-a-year feeding. Have your pro help you figure out exactly the right amount of fertilizer to use on your landscaping.

Can anyone help me with these decisions – and in the application?

Divine Lawns are well versed in all the ins and outs of feeding your lawn the right way. We have cultivated a wealth of experience and knowledge in organic and inorganic fertilizers and can help figure out what fertilizer will work best for your landscape. After all, a well-fertilized landscape isn’t just beautiful; it’s Divine.