Lawn fertiliser, feeding & nutrition
|A spin fertiliser spreader is the perfect
implement for applying all types of granular fertiliser to the lawn. They
help make the job quick and easy and the fertiliser is applied evenly over the
Applying a fertiliser to the lawn is one of the most important tasks in lawn care. A
balanced feed program helps promote healthy turf that is able to withstand most typical lawn
The results of a healthy lawn include good grass colour, increased wear tolerance, good disease
resistance, excellent weed suppression and good root development resulting in improved drought
There are many nutrients that the grass plant requires, but there are 3 key nutrients that most
lawn and turf areas require to maintain optimum health and vigour. If any of these 3 nutrients are
deficient then the health of the lawn is likely to suffer somewhat.
The 3 nutrients that a lawn fertiliser should contain are Nitrogen (N), Phosphates (P) and
Potash (K), all three being essential for a healthy and vigorous lawn. It is these nutrients
that we shall cover on this page. We shall look at the role and importance to the grass plant
that these nutrients provide.
- Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen is important for plant growth and it gives the leaf
its deep green colour. It is the most important of the 3 main nutrients in a lawn feed, as it
is readily used up by the plant, and is leached through the soil more than the others. Used in
the spring when the temperature rises, it helps to kick-start and maintain growth going into
summer. It should not be used in large quantities during the autumn and winter months as it
could lead to a fungal disease attack, particularly fusarium patch disease. Fusarium can be quite severe in the winter so it is
essential not to apply large quantities of nitrogen later than late August / early
- Phosphates (P): The main reason for applying phosphates is to produce a
healthy and vigorous root system. This encourages earlier growth in the spring time resulting
in a healthier lawn during the summer months. Although it is more readily available than
nitrogen within the root zone it may still be beneficial to apply some phosphates at least once
- Potash (K): The main role of potash is to harden the plant, helps make the
plant less susceptible to drought and helps with plant metabolism. Potash is important during
the autumn and winter months as it helps with disease resistance.
What to use & when to apply a feed to the lawn
The first fertiliser application of the year should be at the start of spring. This is when the
temperatures are starting to rise and the grass is starting to finally show some growth, after the
cold winter months. This application should be a nitrogen based fertiliser with additional
phosphates and potash.
There are different types of lawn feed on the market, for example: you may want to use
a slow release fertiliser. These are generally more expensive than conventional fertilisers, the
advantages being that you get slower, more consistent growth with greater longevity.
Alternatively you can use a conventional fertiliser where you will tend to get very quick growth
and less longevity. Depending on the fertiliser used in spring a further application may be
necessary during the summer months.
You can also choose bewteen organic and inorganic feeds for your lawn, both have their
advantages and disadvantages, which are discussed on the organic and inoganic fertiliser page.
Heading into the winter months your fertiliser program should be Phosphate and Potash based to
harden up the plant for winter. Very little nitrogen should be applied during this period as this
can lead to disease problems.
It is important to choose the correct weather conditions for your application. If you are
applying a granular feed it will be best applied during periods of showery weather. Make sure that
the foliage is dry when you apply your feed. If no rain falls after the application, make sure it
is watered in thoroughly to prevent the lawn scorching.
Liquid feeds may need a different approach depending on whether you are using a foliar feed
or root feed. Whatever you choose it is important to follow the manufacturers instructions.
Methods of lawn fertiliser application
Which ever method you use it is important to try and get an even distribution on the lawn to
prevent scorched or missed areas. The main application methods are as follows:
- Hand Application: This is probably the most commonly used method of
fertiliser application, however the main problem with this method is uneven application. The
correct way to apply, is to apply half the rate going up and down the lawn. Apply half the rate
again using the same method by going cross ways, 90 degrees from the first pass.
- Hand Held Applicator: There are two types of hand applicator the first has
a spreader nozzle that fixes on to the container holding the fertiliser. The second type is a
hopper that is hand held and a handle is then turned and the fertiliser is distributed via a
spinner onto the lawn.
- Liquid Application: Some fertilisers are soluble, or in a liquid form
therefore require a liquid applicator. There are many types available including a watering can,
knapsack sprayer or a hose end applicator.
- Wheeled Distribution: There are two types of wheeled applicators (see
pictures below). A spinner type spreader which as it's name suggests spins out the fertiliser
and is ideal for large areas as it covers a large area quickly. The other type is a drop
spreader which is slower than a spinner type, but when used correctly is a very accurate method
A drop fertiliser spreader
A spin fertiliser spreader