Turf grass needs to be properly fertilized for it to be a sustainable feature in your green landscape. Too much or too little fertilizer is not healthy for the lawn or the environment. Too little and the lawn fails to get the food it needs. It becomes spotty and unhealthy. Too much fertilizer sends chemicals washing into our water supplies.
It is important to check with your local jurisdiction though. Many municipalities and counties have now banned lawn fertilizer to improve water quality.
If you are fertilizing and will be using any chemicals, then there are seven essential steps for sustainable practice in green lawn care . Following these seven easy steps will insure a happy lawn and a healthy environment.
Grass Cycle. ‘Grass cycling,’ or leaving the clippings on the lawn, is the equivalent to one fertilizer application annually. These clippings are not the cause of thatch; you don’t have to bag them for fear of suffocating your lawn. If you have concerns then a mulching mower should help ease your mind. Cutting the lawn before it is too long will let the clippings drop from view, no further work required. These clippings break down releasing the stored nutrients and you lawn is fed with just the right amount of macro and micro nutrients that it needs automatically.
Use compost. Start first with Mother Nature. Compost is a rich fertilizer, packed with both macro and micro nutrients that your lawn needs. An application of compost in spring will give your lawn a boost without encouraging top growth at the expense of the roots. A strong root system is what will get your lawn through lean water times come summer’s heat, so prepare ahead by spreading ¼” to ½” inch of screened compost over the lawn.
Test your soil before chemical fertilizer application. Soil testing is the most important thing to do when considering fertilizing turf grass. You need it to determine the grade and composition of the fertilizer your lawn needs.
While there are 18 different nutrients that lawns need the main macro nutrients -- Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. A proper balance of these nutrients is essential for a healthy lawn. Getting the correct formula (%N – %P2O5 – %K2O) will feed your lawn without applying chemicals you don’t need.
Check with your local cooperative extension office for more information on soil testing.
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