Q: Do I need to fertilize my lawn? If, so when should this be done?

A: Healthy soil provides nourishment to grow healthy grass. The soil itself needs to replenish its nutrients so it can continue to keep your lawn healthy.

lawn fertilization services ottawaKeeping your soil healthy with the addition of the necessary nutritional elements is called fertilization. All fertilizers provide three main nutrients for the grass, which are listed by percentage weight on fertilizer packages.

These are: nitrogen (N) which is necessary for stem and leaf growth; phosphorous (P) which promotes root, fruit and flower growth; and potassium (K) which assists other nutrients to function well within the plant. The ratio of nutrients are always listed in the order of N first then P second and K third. (eg. 20-10-10)

Fertilization is an important element in weed control. If you are not sure what your lawn’s fertilizing needs are, you can arrange for a soil test to be done.

Applying fertilizers at the right time of year will also contribute to overall grass health. If you are using natural, slow release fertilizers usually two applications – one in the spring and one in the fall – will provide all the nutrients your lawn requires.

In the spring, your grass is beginning a high growth phase and fertilizing too early tends to promote the top growth of the grass at the expense of root growth. Excessive spring growth can result in weakened roots which are much less drought resistant and are more susceptible to disease It is therefore important to plan spring fertilization after the first rush of spring growth, usually around mid-May.

Resist the urge to fertilize that post-winter lawn.

Fix the bare or thin patches in the spring, focus on other important lawn needs such as de-thatching, core aeration, over-seeding and top dressing, and save the real feeding until the fall. Your lawn will thank you! You should apply fertilizer in the fall, usually in October, when the top growth has stopped but while the roots are still collecting nutrients to store for the winter.

De-ThatchingMulch mowing and leaving the mulched clippings on your lawn “recycle” nutrients back into your lawn and its soil. These mulched clippings can contribute up to 30% of your lawn’s seasonal nitrogen requirements. Leaving mulched clippings on your lawn saves time, reduces water consumption and saves money on fertilizer.

Fertilizers with ingredients from naturally occurring substances such as vegetable, mineral or animal sources are generally referred to as organic or all-natural fertilizers. Nitrogen is found in organic fertilizers such as manure, poultry and fish by-products and vegetable sources like alfalfa and soybean by-products.

The main source of phosphorous is bone meal. Potassium is derived primarily from potash, wood ashes and kelp. Organic fertilizers also provide micro-nutrients and organic matter, both of which are very important for improving soil structure and quality.

De-ThatchingOrganic and natural fertilizers provide nitrogen primarily in a water-insoluble format which means that the soil micro-organisms must breakdown the nitrogen to make it available to the plant.

This is important since it stimulates microbial activity which is good for soil health.

Top dressing with composted manure or garden soil mixture adds organic matter to your lawn to improve soil structure and lawn nutrients. This is another effective way to feed your lawn.

To obtain a free estimate and/or to obtain a specific lawn care program for your property please contact us at: harmonygardens@sympatico.ca