I have found that the best lawn fertilizer are the ones with a balanced mix
of ingredients, i.e.- 12-12-12, instead of 31-4-4. I think the numbers
represent nitrogen, potash, & potassium.
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The first number is Nitrogen that is what makes grass green and grow ,
so if you dont like to waiste time cutting grass a low 1st number-
nitrogen, is best. But a 12-12-12 is usualy immediate release where as
Scotts is more a time release. Quick release is assosiated with Thatch.
Scotts summeriser, or winteriser have a lower Nitrogen level
A big shot of nitrogen makes lots of green growth on top, but doesn't help
the grass grow a better root system. I used the balanced stuff you mention
for 20 years, every other year. The lawn was perfect, while my neighbors,
who fertilized with high nitrogen stuff much more often, basically has
basket cases on their hands. Go with your good idea.
Well it all depends. In your case you are likely right. However each
situation is different. The type of grass, time if year, weather and soil
conditions all play a rule.
In general grass uses a lot of nitrogen. Nitrogen is also rather
soluble so lots of rain tends to wash it out of the soil. Most
manufacturers like to put lots of nitrogen in their mixes. Too much in my
opinion. The extra makes the grass green up fast. Of course that is in
temporary so in a short time you need more .. fertilizer and the
manufacturer makes more money. It however does not make for good overall
The only way to know, is to have your soil tested. Not many people do
that, but I do recommend it for anyone having problems.
I like to use some of each. Most healthy lawns do use more nitrogen
than potash or potassium just not as much as most bags supply. I also use
slow release nitrogen so it does not wash away faster than the grass can use
It is a matter of finding what works for you. and it looks like you are
on the right track.
As a word of caution; In small print on the "Weed and Feed" type of
fertilizer, it says DO NOT USE NEAR A WELL. There is a chemical in that
stuff that is poisonous. I am sure glad I read the small print, as my
well is under my lawn.
Even better, never use a weed and feed product. Almost always the
result is adding fertilizer at the wrong time or using a weed product at the
wrong time resulting in one or both not doing they best job. Also as often
as not, people use the weed and feed when they don't need one or the other.
Another case of the manufacturers creating a product designed to
maximize profit, not do the best job.
The best advice in this thread!! Yhe middle number (phosphorus)
remains in the soil FOREVER. In the proper amounts, it promotes good
root growth and proper plant health. But as it builds up over the
years, it is detrimental to plant health. And you cannot do anything
to correct it other that removing the soil! If a soil test shows a
large phosphorus buildup, you need to go to a 15-0-15 mix of
fertilizer. I know from a bad experience.
Because it often contains too much nitrogen. The goal in formulating SOME
fertilizer is to give the customer what they want: Fast green. It doesn't
matter what they cannot see - a less-than-healthy root system that makes the
grass more vulnerable to a gamut of problems including drought and bugs.
You could use less, but depending on the particular formula, you might end
up providing next to nothing of the other two nutrients. The middle one -
phosphorous - contributes to a healthy root system, which (to offer an
extreme example) is why you're supposed to add bone meal to the soil when
planting bulbs. The real question is, why would you want to waste time
trying to make the WRONG product work, when you can just go out and buy the
RIGHT one, and probably cheaper?
I'm absolutely NOT saying that my lawn represents a valid scientific field
trial, but it's the only one I've ever maintained, so I have to base what
I'm saying on the results. I've done nothing but mow correctly (max height
when warm weather begins), fertilize with stuff NOT made for lawns, and add
lime maybe 3-4 times in 20 years. I rarely need to water. The grass looks
My neighbors, who bought whatever the commercials told them to, struggled
constantly with brown grass in the summer, grubs whenever the hell grubs
happen, weeds, and whatever other nonsense people obsess over. I never had
grubs. I had a few weeds, but none of them got much of a foothold.
By the way, the best revenge against dandelions is to eat them. In cool
spring weather, the leaves are delicious in a salad, especially when picked
young. Try a dressing that's on the sweet side, like rasberry vinaigrette or
one with balsamic vinegar. Once the summer heat kicks in, the leaves get too
bitter for some people. Of course, you don't want to eat them if you've
doused the yard with poison of any kind.
Just a data point. Fifty years ago, which is the publishing date of a
lawn & garden book from my parents' bookshelf, the recco was fertilizing
twice annually, using a 2-1-1 ratio in the spring and 1-2-2 in the fall.
I think the newsgroup blaming the companies is a little off base,
though. This is a consumer climate that demands products that give you
emerald green lawns in *24 hours* (for parties, etc.). I think the
nitrogen content is just as much a consumer demand issue.
It's all about marketing and profits. You can use 1/12 the amount of
12-12-12 or 1-1-1 and the grass won't know the difference. And, grass
does not know the difference between a Scott's lawn fertilizer and
another off-brand. Using a mulching mower automatically returns the
nitrogen to the lawn, making or keeping it greener (that's what
consumers really want, right?)
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