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How and when do I fertilize my lawn?

Jennifer Brennan explains the ins and outs of fertilizer and how to get the green, lush lawn you want.

I’m here to tell you how and why to fertilize your lawn. Now first of all you need to understand, what is fertilizer? Fertilizer comes in two forms. There’s the synthetic forms and then there’re the organically based forms. And fertilizer is actually not food for your lawn, it is actually the building blocks that the lawn plants use to put their parts together. And the basic ingredients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. And when you break down, the nitrogen, think green. Nitrogen is for the green parts, the blades of the plants. The phosphorous, the middle number on the bag, is for the root development. And roots are very important on the grass plants because they’re what really supports the plant and help it spread to give it a nice, lush, thick lawn. Now, the potassium is actually the strength for the cell walls and that’s what gives them disease resistance and also tolerance of heat and the cold in the winter time. So both of the organics, the organics and the synthetics, have nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. So it doesn’t matter which one that you use. Now when you’re looking at the synthetics, they’re actually timed and coded so that those particles will last for six to eight weeks. The organics actually are naturally slow to break down. They’re broken down by bacteria and fungi, beneficial bacteria and fungi, in the soil. So they naturally are slow-release, long-term nutrients for your grass plants.On the backs of the bags are charts showing you the brand and the model of the spreader that you are using. So you come over here and you look at the setting and that’s what you’re going to set the dial up here on. So for this brand of spreader and for this product, you’re going to set it at 10. So you adjust it down right here, empty the bag of the fertilizer into the bin, and then you’re ready to go.Now, there’s different kinds of spreaders. This is a broadcast spreader. And when you look at the bottom of the bin, you’ll see there’s almost a wheel, that when you push the spreader and you open the bin, there’s a wheel that tosses those particles out in a path that’s about four feet wide. This is the type of spreader that most homeowners prefer to use because you don’t have to cross the lawn as many times using this one. And it also gives a gentle overlap of the product so you never have to worry about burning or missing. If you miss areas of the lawn, what will happen is you’ll get yellow stripes. A lot of times people think that’s burnt lawn, it’s just because they missed the application. Now, you have to use fertilizer, it’s advised to use fertilizer, in all regions, it’s not a regional thing. Grass plants need fertilizer wherever they’re growing. It’s what keeps them, you know, going, strong.Now there’s also a hand applied broadcast spreader that you can use if you have smaller areas to fertilize. So you put the fertilizer in here, pull the trigger, and then spin. And this spreads that fertilizer in an area about four feet wide, and you just walk back and forth across the lawn.Now the other type of spreader that I mentioned is a drop spreader. This is used more often by professionals. You can see the bottom part of the bin is a straight line. You put the fertilizer in, and when you push this and put the setting in the right place, those particles drop straight down. You need to be very accurate, and when you’re using these, you need to make sure you line up these markings with the wheel marks so that you don’t get stripes on your lawn. When you’re using fertilizer, it’s giving nourishment to the lawn, just like you would give nourishment to your children, so if you want the best looking lawn in the neighborhood, be sure and fertilize.How often?Be prepared to apply it four times a year if you want the best lawn in the neighborhood. If you just want a good, healthy lawn, two times a year.When?More southern regions, the fertilizer can be applied earlier, because the grass plans have awakened. And the cue is to look for the green color in your lawn. If the lawn is turned green, that means it is awakened in the spring, and you can use fertilizer. Helpful hintI like to actually recommend that we follow holidays. Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Halloween. Those are the easiest for the timing, and if you remember that, you can get your applications just right.

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