The first thing to understand about fertilizer is the formula, which is represented by three numbers, such as the common 5-10-5. The first number represents nitrogen, which promotes lawn blade and foliage growth; the second number stands for phosphorus, which helps root growth; and the third for potassium, which promotes cell function and absorption of trace elements. But what do you fertilize? When? And with what? Let's start with your lawn.
Early in September, grass is recovering from a long hot summer and may be coming out of a drought-induced dormancy, so you'll want to give your lawn a shot of nitrogen to push blade growth. A fertilizer with a formula of 20-8-8 will get it growing again. Always follow the manufacturer's recommended rate of application. Some people treat weeds and insects at this time, but I think that unless there are signs of trouble or a history of problems, don't apply anything but fertilizer. While this September dose of fertilizer is important, an application at the end of October or early November is essential. At that time, apply a fertilizer with a formula of 13-25-12. The push of phosphorus will stimulate root growth through November and even into early December. By helping roots grow before winter sets in, you are insuring that the lawn will green-up quicker in the spring and become more resistant to disease and draught.
To find out more about fertilizing plants, trees and shrubs, check tomorrow's post on what, when and how to fertilize your plants, trees and shrubs in the fall.
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