Lawn Feed Guide: How to Feed Your Lawn Rightly

Nurturing a lush, green lawn is akin to taking care of one’s own health. Just as we require the right nutrition at the right time, our lawns too demand timely and proper feeding. This is where the importance of ‘lawn feed’ comes into the picture. In this guide, we’ll dive deep into understanding how to select, apply, and get the best results from your lawn feed.

feed-2What is Lawn Feed?

Simply put, lawn feed is a mixture of essential nutrients that helps promote a healthier, greener lawn. Whether you have a sprawling estate or a cosy garden patch, providing it with the correct feed can be transformative. And while there are countless lawn feed products on the market, the key lies in understanding your lawn’s specific needs and choosing the appropriate feed accordingly.

What Feed is Best for Lawns?

Different types of grass and different soil conditions require varied nutrient formulations. However, there are some general pointers to guide you:

  1. Nitrogen: Vital for lush green growth. If your lawn looks a bit yellowish, it might be craving more nitrogen.
  2. Phosphorus: Essential for root development. Young or newly seeded lawns benefit from this.
  3. Potassium: Strengthens the lawn against diseases and drought.

For a balanced growth, you can opt for a lawn feed with a balanced N-P-K ratio, like a 20-20-20. But remember, your lawn’s unique needs might differ, so always consider conducting a soil test before making a choice.

Why Feed a Lawn and How to Do It Properly

A modern home landscape is incomplete without a well-maintained lawn or even a small well-kept area with neatly growing grass. Growing grass is simple, but giving the lawn an appealing look and maintaining it throughout the season is a task that requires time and effort. Apart from mowing, dethatching, and watering, the lawn needs nutrients. The timely addition of these nutrients will determine the final result – a thick, fresh green turf.

When and How Often Should You Feed the Lawn?

With each mowing, the lawn loses a significant amount of nutrients previously stored in its stems. Fertilizing will rectify this. To start, assess the state of your lawn and the area. Consider:

  • The type of grass growing.
  • The health of the plants and soil.
  • Natural conditions.
  • Season.

It’s best to apply fertilizers before a rainfall, ensuring that the nutrients seep into the soil and are quickly accessed by the root system. Experienced gardeners can often tell what nutrients the grass requires by its appearance:

  • Pale grass with patches indicates a need for nitrogen.
  • Limp and brittle shoots suggest a deficiency in phosphates.

feed2Seasonal Recommendations

In spring, as plants require rejuvenation after the cold winter months, it’s recommended to add nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. At the beginning of the new season, right after the snow melts, the first fertilization should take place. Before any green shoots emerge, the soil will be enriched with essential micronutrients.

During the height of summer, especially when the heat is most intense between the initial two summer months, it’s time for another round of fertilization. In this period, plants require complex minerals and potassium salt, which is crucial during the rainy season. Heavy rainfall can leach potassium from the soil, necessitating its replenishment during such weather conditions.

An important fertilization occurs in the fall, right before the first frosts hit. Pay attention to weather forecasts, as about a week before frost is when lawns should be fertilized with a potassium-phosphorus mix to ensure plants winter over well.

  • Nitrogen Lawn plants require nitrogen feeding during their intensive growth phase, which typically is in mid to late April. For every 100 square meters of land area, approximately 250 grams of fertilizer is needed. This fertilizer will be effective for up to 20 days. Then, around mid-May or at the first mowing, it’s time to add nitrogenous minerals again. For vibrant color and continued growth, nitrogen should be added every couple of weeks. As fall approaches, the need for nitrogenous fertilizers wanes. Nitrogenous fertilizers include ammonium phosphate, urea, nitroammonium phosphate, and ammonium nitrate.
  • Phosphorus Phosphorus is used to strengthen the root system. Given its long retention in the soil, it’s typically added just twice a season: in spring and early autumn.
  • Potassium “Double superphosphate” and “simple superphosphate” will help plants develop frost resistance. These compounds are considered the best choice for preparing vegetation for winter. During the plants’ growth period, potassium is essential. The intake during autumn will help the lawn store energy, making it resilient and less susceptible to pests. While potassium is not as critical as nitrogen, it shouldn’t be ignored since it contributes to plant resilience. It’s usually sufficient to add potassium once a season.

Gardeners no longer have to stress about dosage and proportions since fertilizers are sold in pre-mixed forms that contain all the necessary nutrients. The most popular comprehensive fertilizers include nitroammonium phosphate, potassium phosphate, ammonium phosphate, and nitrophos. Typically, it’s not advised to apply these compounds to a young lawn; it’s better to wait a year after seeding.

Fertilizing a rolled lawn should commence no sooner than six months after installation. Both rolled and seeded lawns require a minimum of two feedings per season.

Lawn fertilizers come in various forms: solid, liquid, or granular. They can consist of mineral compounds, organic elements, or a mix of both. The method of application depends on the form of the fertilizer.

Liquid fertilizers are used when a rapid impact on the plant’s root system is needed, for instance, to expedite recovery. The concentrated mix is diluted with water as per the instructions on the packaging. It’s then sprayed onto the lawn using a garden sprayer, followed by watering to ensure the chemicals don’t adversely affect the shoots.

Dry mixes, such as urea, nitrate granules, ash, and other substances, may not act instantaneously but tend to remain in the soil longer. Various spreaders and seeders are employed for their application. Watering right after application is crucial. Using dry mixes helps regulate growth intensity. Dry fertilization enables the lawn to grow swiftly, and the rate of growth and frequency of mowing depends on the dosage. Ideally, lawn mowing should occur once a week.

Is Lawn Feed Safe?

Safety concerns usually arise when thinking about children, pets, or the environment. Most commercially available lawn feeds are safe when used as directed. But as with all products:

  1. Follow the Instructions: Overfeeding can burn the grass.
  2. Store Safely: Keep lawn feed out of reach of children and pets.
  3. Environmental Impact: Consider eco-friendly feeds which have reduced environmental impacts.

It’s prohibited to handle the aforementioned compounds without using protective equipment, such as spreading granulated fertilizers with bare hands. Due to the high concentration of these substances, there’s always a risk of chemical burns. Always wear gloves.

It’s advisable to use a respirator when working with fertilizers. Even though they aren’t categorized as hazardous substances, it’s best to avoid unnecessary exposure to the respiratory system.

Natural Lawn Feed Options: What’s the Best?

For those leaning towards a more organic approach, natural lawn feeds can be a great alternative. They’re usually made from plant or animal-based materials and release nutrients slowly, providing a long-term feeding solution. Here are some popular options:

  1. Bone Meal: A slow-releasing phosphorus source.
  2. Fish Emulsion: High in nitrogen, great for green growth.
  3. Composted Manure: A balanced nutrient source, but ensure it’s well-composted to avoid weeds or diseases.

feed3Feeding Your Lawn: Step-by-Step

  1. Know Your Soil: Conduct a soil test to understand its pH and nutrient levels. This will guide your lawn feed choice.
  2. Timing is Everything: Early spring or late autumn is the ideal time for feeding. However, if you opt for high-nitrogen feeds, late spring or early summer works best.
  3. Water First: A light watering before applying lawn feed helps the soil absorb it better.
  4. Application: Use a broadcast spreader for even distribution. Ensure you cover the edges and corners.
  5. Water Again: Post-application, water the lawn lightly. This helps in pushing the feed into the soil and preventing any burns.

What not to do when feeding the lawn?

Here are some common mistakes made when feeding lawns:

  1. Over-Fertilizing: Applying too much fertilizer can lead to nutrient imbalances, burning the grass, and even encouraging weed growth.
  2. Under-Fertilizing: Not providing enough nutrients can leave the lawn susceptible to disease, weed invasion, and an overall lackluster appearance.
  3. Incorrect Timing: Fertilizing at the wrong time of the year can be less effective or even harmful. For example, fertilizing cool-season grasses in the heat of summer can stress them.
  4. Not Testing Soil: Without a soil test, you won’t know the specific nutrient needs of your lawn. Overlooking this can lead to imbalances.
  5. Uneven Application: If fertilizer isn’t spread evenly, it can result in patchy growth, with some areas looking lush and others appearing burned or undernourished.
  6. Using the Wrong Feed: Different lawns have different needs. Using a fertilizer not suited for your lawn type or the current season can lead to poor results.
  7. Not Watering After Application: Dry fertilizer needs to be watered in to activate and to prevent burning the grass. On the other hand, over-watering after applying soluble fertilizers can wash them away, leading to nutrient runoff and potential environmental harm.
  8. Ignoring Organic Options: Many gardeners focus solely on synthetic fertilizers, missing out on the benefits of organic options which can improve soil health over the long term.
  9. Not Reading Label Instructions: Every fertilizer product is a bit different. Not following label instructions can lead to misuse and poor outcomes.
  10. Overlooking Micronutrients: While nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the primary nutrients for lawns, they also need micronutrients like iron, manganese, and zinc in smaller quantities. Ignoring these can lead to specific deficiencies.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a healthier, greener lawn throughout the growing season.

In Conclusion

Choosing the right lawn feed and using it appropriately can bring a visible difference to your garden. Whether you opt for commercial products or natural alternatives, the primary goal remains the same: a healthy, vibrant, and thriving lawn. As you navigate through the myriad of options, remember that understanding your lawn’s unique requirements is paramount. So, the next time you think of “lawn feed”, ensure you’re feeding it rightly. After all, a well-fed lawn not only enhances your property’s aesthetics but also brings joy to every gardener’s heart.

Oliver Thompson
Lawn Care Expert

About Oliver: Oliver Thompson, a seasoned lawn care expert from the Cotswolds with over two decades of experience, invites all enthusiasts to join him in exploring the world of lawns, sharing knowledge, and fostering a vibrant community of lawn enthusiasts. More info

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