Family playing with dog on their healthy lawn in North Augusta SC

How to Know What Fertilizer to Use on Your Lawn

Ever wondered how to choose the perfect fertilizer for your lawn? In this guide, we’ll explore the essential steps of “How to Know What Fertilizer to Use on Your Lawn.” From understanding fertilizer labels to matching nutrients to your lawn’s needs, you’ll gain the expertise needed to make informed decisions for lush, green turf.

Different Types of Lawn Fertilizers

When it comes to fertilizing your lawn, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. Each type of fertilizer offers unique benefits and is tailored to specific lawn care needs. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of lawn fertilizers:

Granular Fertilizers vs Liquid Fertilizers

Granular FertilizersLiquid Fertilizers
Granular fertilizers come in the form of small pellets or granules.Liquid fertilizers are concentrated solutions that are mixed with water and applied to the lawn using a sprayer or hose-end attachment.
They are easy to apply with a spreader, allowing for even distribution across the lawn.Liquid fertilizers are often used for rapid greening or as a supplement to granular fertilizers for enhanced nutrient uptake.
Granular fertilizers typically provide a slow-release of nutrients, offering long-lasting feeding for your grass.They provide a quick nutrient boost to the grass, as they are readily absorbed through both the roots and foliage.
They are available in both synthetic and organic formulations, catering to various preferences and lawn care philosophies.They are available in both synthetic and organic formulations, offering flexibility in application and nutrient delivery.

Slow-Release Fertilizers vs Quick Release Fertilizers

Slow-Release FertilizersQuick Release Fertilizers
Slow-release fertilizers, whether granular or liquid, release nutrients gradually over an extended periodDesigned to dissolve rapidly in water, making their nutrients available for plant uptake almost immediately. 
They provide a steady supply of nutrients to the grass, promoting sustained growth and health.Quick-release fertilizers, also known as soluble or fast-acting fertilizers, are formulations that provide an immediate supply of nutrients to plants upon application. 
Slow-release fertilizers are ideal for reducing the risk of nutrient leaching or runoff, as well as minimizing the need for frequent re-application.Composed of water-soluble forms of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, along with other essential micronutrients.

Synthetic Fertilizers vs Organic Fertilizers

Synthetic FertilizersOrganic Fertilizers
Synthetic fertilizers are manufactured using chemically synthesized nutrients, typically in the form of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).Organic fertilizers are derived from natural sources, such as compost, animal manure, bone meal, or seaweed.
They are formulated to deliver precise nutrient ratios and are often designed for specific stages of lawn growth or seasonal needs.They provide a slow-release of nutrients and contribute to improving soil health and microbial activity.
Synthetic fertilizers offer quick results and are readily available at garden centers and home improvement stores.They enrich the soil with organic matter, enhancing its fertility and promoting long-term resilience in the lawn.

Specialty Fertilizers

  • Specialty fertilizers cater to specific lawn care needs, such as weed control, disease resistance, or targeted nutrient supplementation.
  • They may contain additional ingredients, such as herbicides or fungicides, to address specific lawn issues.
  • Specialty fertilizers are often used in conjunction with regular fertilization practices to tackle specific challenges and maintain optimal lawn health.

By understanding the characteristics and benefits of each type of fertilizer, you can make informed decisions and choose the right fertilizer for your lawn’s unique requirements.

Steps to Determine the Best Fertilizer for Your Lawn

Step 1: Conduct a Soil Test

Start by performing a soil test to assess the pH level and nutrient composition of your lawn soil.

Soil tests can be conducted using DIY kits or by sending samples to a professional lab for analysis. Understanding your soil’s pH and nutrient levels will help you select a fertilizer that addresses any deficiencies and promotes optimal grass growth.

Step 2: Identify Your Grass Type

Determine the type of grass growing in your lawn (e.g., cool-season grasses like fescue or warm-season grasses like Bermuda). Different grass species have varying nutrient requirements, so it’s essential to choose a fertilizer formulation that suits your grass type’s preferences and growth habits.

Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and fine fescues, thrive in regions with cooler temperatures and moderate climates. They maintain vibrant green color and active growth during the cooler months, making them ideal choices for lawns in northern regions with distinct seasonal changes. These grasses exhibit durability, shade tolerance, and varying textures, providing homeowners with options to create lush, resilient turf.

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses are a group of grass species that flourish in regions with hot summers and mild winters. They thrive in southern climates and are well-suited for areas with extended periods of high temperatures and drought. Examples include Bermuda grass, Zoysia grass, and St. Augustine grass, known for their heat tolerance, drought resistance, and ability to go dormant during colder months.

Step 3: Understand Fertilizer Labels

Familiarize yourself with fertilizer labels and understand the information provided, including the N-P-K ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium), nutrient content, and application instructions.

Consider factors such as slow-release versus quick-release formulations and organic versus synthetic options based on your lawn’s needs and your preferences for environmental sustainability.

Understanding the N-P-K numbers plays a pivotal role in selecting the right lawn fertilizer. These numerical values not only determine the fertilizer’s effectiveness but also highlight its limitations. 

Each fertilizer packaging displays a specific ratio, representing the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium contained within. For instance, a ratio of 30-10-20 signifies 30% nitrogen, 10% phosphate, and 20% potassium. The reason for varying ratios lies in the unique needs of every lawn, with each nutrient offering distinct advantages. It’s imperative to find the ideal ratio tailored to your lawn’s requirements.

Step 4: Choose the Right Application Method

Decide on the most suitable application method for your lawn, whether granular fertilizers applied with a spreader or liquid fertilizers applied with a sprayer. Ensure even distribution of the fertilizer across the lawn to achieve consistent results and avoid over- or under-application.

Step 5: Monitor and Adjust

Regularly monitor your lawn’s health and growth response to fertilizer applications. Adjust your fertilization practices as needed based on changes in soil conditions, grass growth rates, and other factors affecting lawn health.

Not Sure Which to Choose?

Feeling overwhelmed by the fertilizer options? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Reach out to our team of lawn care experts for personalized advice tailored to your lawn’s specific needs. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a first-time lawn owner, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting the perfect fertilizer to achieve your lawn goals. You may also call us at (706) 962-2650.