Carolina Clear – Fertilizer

Adding fertilizer to your lawn can give it a nice, green, healthy look, but only if applied properly. Knowing what type, how much and when to fertilize can be tricky, but it pays to do it right.

Fertilizing your lawn is more than just pushing around the spreader, it starts with knowing which fertilizer to buy. The only way to really know what you need to apply is to have your soil tested.  Any clemson extension office will be able to test a sample of your soil, and the results will show you which nutrients are lacking in your soil.

The three numbers on a bag of fertilizer tell you exactly what you are getting. N stands for nitrogen, P for phosphorus, and K for potassium, and that is the order that you find them on a fertilizer bag. Those are the three nutrients that plants use in the highest quantities, so we may need them in the soil.

In our part of the Carolinas the soil is naturally high in phosphorus, so we usually don’t need to use fertilizer that contains phosphorus, and it can be bad for fresh water ponds. That is why most of the fertilizer for sale around here has a zero, or very low number in the middle of the three.

Once you get the correct fertilizer, it is important to calibrate your spreader so you know how much is being applied.

You also need to know the swath of your spreader to avoid double applying to parts of your lawn. It is important to spread the correct amount of fertilizer… not too much or too little.

When you are spreading the fertilizer, try to keep most of it on the lawn, but if you miss, clean it up. You are more than likely going to get some that ends up on a hard surface: a sidewalk, a driveway. and when it rains, that can wash into our storm drain systems and we don’t want that to happen. So anything that gets on a hard surface we should either sweep or blow back onto the landscape where it can help the plants.

Finally, check the weather forecast. if you add fertilizer right before a heavy rain, it will all just wash away.

Centipede is the most common turf grass in our area. It does not need fertilizer in the spring until it is completely green, and stop adding nitrogen after august 15 to help it prepare for winter.

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