Is it your goal to have greener grass than your neighbor? Do you often struggle with achieving a rich green color like you see at many of the commercial properties around town during the early summer months? The thing you might be missing is proper fertilization. For most of our commercial properties, we follow a 5 round program that includes both nutrients to the turf as well as weed control.
Fertilizers are made with a combination of Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P) and Potassium (K). The 3 number sequence (N-P-K) you see is on the fertilizer bag describes the ratio of chemical elements in a fertilizer. In general for turf fertilizers, the Nitrogen number will be higher than the Phosphate and Potassium. Each element serves a role in the healthy development of the turf.
Nitrogen promotes plant growth and helps to produce the deep green color. Phosphate stimulates healthy root formation. We are fortunate to have a lot of phosphate naturally present in the soil in our region. Potassium strengthens plant tissues and increases the plants resistance to disease.
Each round in our recommended program has a specific purpose.
Round 1: In addition to feeding the turf with a 16-4-8 combination fertilizer, it also includes a pre-emergent which helps to prevent crabgrass. This round is generally completed during the month of March (depending on the weather).
Round 2: The second round should be completed in April or May. We use a 14-0-0 combination. In addition to the Nitrogen heavy fertilizer, a broadleaf weed control is recommended to help control broadleaf weeds, like dandelions.
Round 3: Another round of the 16-4-8 fertilizer is applied during June or July. If necessary, a Grub control application can also be applied at this time.
Round 4: In August or September another round of Nitrogen only fertilizer with a broadleaf weed control is applied.
Round 5: The final round of turf applications includes a nitrogen heavy fertilizer (46-0-0). This is a feeder application that will prepare the plant to overwinter and come back in the spring.
It’s important to not apply too much nitrogen on your turf during the summer because when mixed with the heat, it will burn your turf. A good rule of thumb is to keep your yearly application at 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet. The 4 pounds is distributed appropriately with each application depending on what the plant is doing at a given time. The first and third rounds require ¾ pounds per 1000 square feet, the second and fourth rounds are only ½ pound per 1000 square feet, and the fifth round is 1½ pounds.