Fertilizer: The Numbers and their Corresponding Nutrients

Article Posted By: Home Depot Staff

All lawns require regular feeding throughout the year and fall is a great time to fertilize. This will keep your lawn protected for the winter and get it healthy and beautiful for spring. Before fertilizing, it is a good idea to check the pH balance in your soil so you can make sure it is doesn’t need an application of lime or sulphur to balance the soil. Most grasses grow best in soils that are 6.0-6.5.

There are many different fertilizer formulas available. Some of the more popular varieties have pre-emergent for weed control, insect control, or are designed for newly planted lawns.

There are three main nutrients found in fertilizer. They are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.  The three numbers on the label of a fertilizer package correlate with these three nutrients and are a measure of percentage by weight of the nutrients. For instance, a common fertilizer is known as 10-10-10. This means for a 50 lb. bag of this mix, five lbs. (10%) are nitrogen, 5 lbs. (10%) are phosphorous, and 5 lbs. (10%) are potassium.

Each of these nutrients has a distinct job in feeding the lawn. Nitrogen is responsible for rapid growth and a lush, green color. Phosphorous is responsible for the health of a root system. It is for this reason that many fertilizers for established lawns may have lower phosphorous numbers. Lastly, potassium is needed for the overall health of the lawn. It aids in diseases resistance, drought tolerance, and cold protection.

Here’s an easy way to remember which areas each nutrient feeds are: just think “up, down, and all around”. Nitrogen feeds above ground, phosphorous below, and potassium helps overall.

Remember, regular feeding and care is the best regimen for keeping your grass looking its best. The Certified Nursery Consultants in the Garden Center at your local Home Depot store can help you choose the right fertilizer for your lawn. 

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