A beautiful, lush lawn doesn’t happen on its own. It takes regular care and feeding to keep grass greener and thicker. Fertilizing is one of the most important things you can do for your yard. But with so many fertilizer products out there, how do you pick the right one? This grass guide will walk you through the different types of lawn fertilizers and what each one does so you can make an informed choice.
Why Fertilize Your Lawn?
Before diving into the options, let’s look at why fertilizing is so important in the first place. Lawn fertilizer provides nutrients that grass needs to thrive and withstand traffic and other environmental stresses. The three primary macronutrients that all plants require are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Fertilizing boosts nutrient levels to drive stronger root development, faster growth, and richer color. It also increases density, which in turn helps crowd out weeds.
Organic vs Synthetic Fertilizers
The first decision to make is whether you want an organic or synthetic fertilizer. Organic options are made from plant or animal materials, such as compost, manure, cottonseed meal, and more. Synthetics contain mineral salts and other ingredients processed into a fertilizer product.
Organic fertilizers provide a slow, steady release of nutrients. Synthetics offer immediate nutrient availability and often last longer in soil. There are excellent options in both categories. The choice comes down to your specific lawn goals and preferences.
Types of Lawn Fertilizers
Now, let’s explore the different categories of fertilizers within organic and synthetic options.
Fast vs Slow Release: As the name implies, fast-release fertilizers provide rapid nutrient availability to give grass a boost of food. Slow-release options have coatings that break down more gradually to provide a steady feed over 6-8 weeks or more. Choose a fast release to prepare for events or give prompt help to struggling areas. Use slow release for routine feedings.
Liquid vs Granular: Granular fertilizers are dry products applied with a spreader. Liquid options are mixed with water in a sprayer. Granulars often last longer, while liquids provide instant greening. Granular works well for large areas, and liquids are great for smaller lawns or targeted treatment.
Weed & Feed: These popular products contain both fertilizers for lush growth and herbicides to prevent weeds. The combination offers an efficient, effective lawn treatment. But beware of using Weed & Feed where desired plants or grass seed has been recently applied, as the herbicides may damage new growth.
Specialty Options: There are also specially formulated fertilizers to help lawns recover from seasonal stresses. For example, winterize fertilizers harden grass before cold weather dormancy, while summer/heat options help reduce stress and damage from extreme temperatures. Fungicides and insecticides can also be mixed into custom blends.
Choosing the Right Lawn Fertilizer: In Summary
While the options may seem confounding at first, just define your specific lawn goals and needs before choosing a fertilizer product. Are you seeking an organic or synthetic formula? Do you need a quick green-up or extended feeding? Is weed control desired? Your soil test results can inform ideal nutrient ratios, too. With a little planning, you’ll find the perfect fertilizer to nourish your lawn and keep your grass gorgeously green.