Be smart about fertilizing your lawn

Overuse can overstimulate yard growth

Green thriving grass can choke out weeds if lawns are properly maintained and supplied with adequate fertilizer.
Green thriving grass can choke out weeds if lawns are properly maintained and supplied with adequate fertilizer.

Green yards require proper irrigation along with the correct fertilizing timing.

  • Organic and synthetic lawn fertilizers are a good tool for maintaining a healthy lawn: Fertilizer promotes a lush growth, strengthens roots and helps to prevent invasive weeds and pests.
  • There are many varieties of lawn fertilizer available: Most consist of three key nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The most popular types of lawn fertilizer are granule and liquid. These three primary nutrients correspont to the three numbers on the bag. Florida yards already have abundant levels of phosphorus so choose a fertilizer with a 0 as the middle number. In general, select a fertilizer where the first and third numbers on the label are equal or in a 2:1 ratio and the middle number is zero or as low as possible.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing: Spreading too much fertilizer can overwhelm your grass. Fertilizer adds nitrogen to your lawn, but if you add too much, it can actually dry it out and kill it. You’ll be able to tell if you over-fertilized if you notice yellow or brown spots where the grass has died. Yards should be treated after the first frost usually in late May but be sure to get it down before June. A second application should wait until October.
  • Don’t overuse chemicals: Pesticides can be essential to preventing infestations and disease but should be used with great caution. Some pesticides are very harsh on a lawn and can cause as much new damage as it prevents in old damage. All pesticides should be checked for natural ingredients which should take preference over harsher chemical based pesticides.

Make sure to cut the grass frequently at a 4 inch height to prevent weeds from spreading out of control.

Most home lawn fertilizers contain some slow-release nitrogen. It takes longer for your yard to benefit from slow-release nitrogen, but the effects will last longer. Many of these fertilizers provide fertilization for 60 days or longer, depending on environmental conditions. As a result, fewer nutrients may be wasted or lost as pollutants.

To find a slow-release fertilizer, look for these terms on the product or fertilizer tag for nitrogen:

  • Timed-release, slow-release or controlled-release
  • Water insoluble nitrogen
  • Isobutylidene diurea (IBDU)
  • Ureaform (UF)
  • Nitroform
  • Sulfur-, polymer-, plastic- or resin-coated urea

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