Fertilizing Your Bluegrass, Fescue, and Ryegrass Lawn
Regular applications of fertilizer are an important part of achieving a beautiful, healthy lawn. However, many lawn enthusiasts do not know how to properly apply fertilizer. Misinformation can lead to over fertilization of your Bluegrass, Fescue, and Ryegrass lawn. Thus wasting time, money, and valuable natural resources.
When to fertilize
In general, fertilizers are applied in three separate applications. The first being in September, the second in November and the final application being made in May.
How much to use
Personal expectations, uses of the turf, and maintenance preferences will dictate how much fertilizer should be applied. The general rule of thumb in the amount of fertilizer to apply annually is three pounds of Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of turf. To determine how much fertilizer is required divide one (1) by the percent nitrogen in the bag ( the percent nitrogen is the first number of the three number analysis on the bag. The percent of phosphorus and potassium are the other two numbers.) For example, to apply one pound of nitrogen to 1,000 square feet of grass using a fertilizer with the analysis of 20-5-10, simply divide 1 by 20 percent to get 5. Therefore, five pounds of the fertilizer will be needed to properly fertilize 1,000 square feet.
What type should be used
Fertilizers are available in a wide variety of analysis and choosing the correct fertilizer for your lawn can be confusing. Select a complete fertilizer formulated for turf grass. Turf grass formulations are fertilizers that contain mostly Nitrogen and have lesser amounts of phosphorus and potassium. When fertilizing in spring and fall select a fertilizer that has at least one fourth of the nitrogen being supplied from slowly available nitrogen sources. These sources include sulfur-coated urea, w.i.n. (which stands for “water-insoluble nitrogen”) and ureaformaldyhyde. When fertilizing in early winter, select fertilizers or winterizers that have quickly available nitrogen sources. These sources include ammoniacal nitrogen, urea, and water soluble nitrogen.
Fertilizing is just one step to having a healthy, weed free lawn. Over fertilization can lead to excess growth that requires frequent mowing and increased danger of thatch build-up. Learning how to properly apply the correct amount of fertilizer to the lawn will save time and money. It will also help minimize the risk of fertilizer runoff polluting our streams, rivers, and lakes.
Lynn Loughary, LLoughar@oznet.ksu.edu
County Extension Agent, Horticulture
Wyandotte County, Kansas
Kansas State University Research and Extension