You wake up on a beautiful Saturday morning, walk downstairs, grab a cup of coffee, and take your first mid-summer step out the back door to that fresh warm air over your backyard. It smells like heaven as you see those perfect lines still in the grass from yesterday’s mow. It’s the American Dream; it’s as ingrained as baseball and apple pie!
There is no question we love our lawns, but why? Well, we grabbed a few Lawn Serv employees and headed outside to discuss our favorite reasons for why we here at Lawn Serv love our lawns:
Let’s play! At the sight of a nice day we all look to run outside ASAP. Nobody wants to hangout in a messy house, same goes for outside the house.
It’s a work of art! We take pride in cultivating and nurturing a beautiful lawn … but also in still being able to kick off our shoes to enjoy it!
The juice is worth the squeeze! Lets be honest, lawn care isn’t always the easiest. It’s hot. It’s dry. You’d much rather be in the AC. But, when you get it right–whether your friends and family see it or not–you sleep a little better at night!
A great workout. Many of our customers share their stories of enjoying the peaceful exercise they get when taking care of their lawns. Getting outside, enjoying the warm summer air–taking care of our lawns is mentally and physically fulfilling!
Whatever your reason, we can all agree that having a few friends and family over, with a couple of lawn games and a fired-up grill is even more enjoyable with a lush green lawn!
Nitrogen (N): nitrogen is the food that aids a lawn to grow quickly, taller, and develop a darker green color.
Phosphorus (P): phosphorus is responsible for root growth and helps aid new lawn development
Potassium (K): potassium is a nutrient responsible guards the plant against diseases and aids in drought protection and cold tolerance.
You look outside and notice your grass is brown, patchy, and generally dry looking. So, you decide to head to the store to get some fertilizer. But, what do all those fertilizer numbers mean?? And, what do you need for your lawn?? Well, the short answer is that it heavily depends on a professional soil test (free with the Lawn Serv program). But, more on that later. For now, let’s take a quick look at those fertilizer numbers, what they are, and what they mean for your lawn.
What The “Fertilizer Numbers” Are:
Nitrogen (N), the first number: nitrogen is the food that helps a lawn to grow quickly, taller, and to develop a darker green color.
Phosphorus (P), the second number: phosphorus is responsible for root growth and helps aid new lawn development; phosphorus is often “0”, or very low, as there are restrictions around when and where phosphorus can be applied.
Potassium (K), the third number: potassium is a nutrient responsible for guarding the plant against diseases and aids in drought protection and cold tolerance.
These are three of the core nutrients used to amend soil to grow a lush green lawn. It’s what you see on the front of a fertilizer bag when you see for example 20-10-10 (or 20N-10P-10K). That is the percentage (by weight) of the three major nutrients required for healthy grass growth, always in the same order nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K). Why don’t the the percentages equal 100 percent? That is because there are other nutrients and filler product in fertilizer mixtures. This filler helps to apply the nutrients evenly over an area.
N-P-K Organic Fertilizers (plant-based):
If you are looking for an organic option, your best bet is to find a plant-based, manure-based, or blended version of the NPK fertilizer. This allows for a balanced fertilizer that stimulates through beneficial soil microorganisms and improves the structure of the soil providing long term benefits. Some plant-based NPK fertilizer are developed with alfalfa meal, soy meal, seaweed based, and cottonseed meal. These organic plant based fertilizers break down easier and have faster absorption than most.
So, What Do These “Fertilizer Numbers” Mean For Your Lawn?
These numbers are very important as your grass needs different percentages depending on what time of year, climate, and soil composition. For example, your lawn may need a boost of Phosphorus if you’re applying new seed, or may need a boost of Potassium late in the season to promote deep root growth for the winter. The best way to determine exactly what your lawn needs is through a professional soil test, which we offer free as part of our Lawn Serv subscription box! And, as always, feel free to reach out with any questions; we’re here to help!
Soil can be tested at any time of the year, but for optimal results get your soil tested in fall or early spring this gives you ample time to make adjustments before you start planting.
Use a soil composition (soil from around your yard combined) as most amendments are going to be deployed broadly around the yard and there are not likely huge swings in nutrient levels to warrant super specific small tailoring of amendments.
Test every couple years to see how the amendments you have made are affecting the soil.
Testing your soil is incredibly beneficial to the everyday home-owner with a lawn. Testing your soil allows you to understand the fertility of the lawn and its specific nutrient levels and what it needs in order to prosper. You can then tailor your applications to target the specific needs of your lawn. This should save you time and money while being more effective and better for the environment.
How to test your soil:
Hands down the best way to test your soil is through either an extension school/university or through a private lab. The prices can range from $15 if you drop it off to $100 if you ship it in. The biggest problem is knowing what to do with the results. They will provide you with a lot of language such as 3 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft. If that doesn’t make a lot of sense to you it might make sense to use Lawn Serv.
Things you will test for:
There are many different types of nutrients or lack thereof in a yard, and they can differ city to city or state to state based on a lot of different factors. Some of the main lawn related items you should see in a soil test result are:
You will see recommendations regarding nitrogen levels based on these factors and where you are located in the country also.
How to with Lawn Serv:
With Lawn Serv it is as simple as clicking a button.
Think about taking this time to sharpen the blades for the new year
If you get sustained below freezing temperatures in your part of the country you need to think seriously about simple maintenance if you plan to extend the life of your machines. Grass clippings in bags can ruin them, so turn them inside out, rinse and let dry in the sun. You should clean your mower deck after each use, but especially before winter. Grass holds moisture and can rust parts of the mower quicker.
Gas only has a couple months shelf life. You should run that out if you don’t plan on mowing in the next 60 days and put new gas in.
Sharpe blades are going cut more efficiently and cleaner. This will improve the health of your lawn. Now that you have a few winter months off go take the blades to a local shop and get those sharpened. It’s short money for the saved headaches they can cause by creating lawn problems.
If granular fertilizer, you should water in the fertilizer so it can get to the roots, or apply right before a rain.
If you can, mulch the clippings and leave them on the lawn, those are packed with nutrients for the soil! (just not clumpy)
Fertilizing after you mow is important because you want the product typically to be able to reach the soil line. If you fertilize on top of the tall grass the product can be wasted and in some cases even burn the grass leaves.
Some other things to note would be that you should never cut more than 1/3 of the blade of grass off when mowing, and be sure to always water your lawn if it’s been a while without rain!
You need 1″ of water per week naturally or by you!
Use a sprinkler
Use a container to test how much water has fallen from the sprinkler
No matter how much you fertilizer your lawn or how perfect you mow it, if it doesn’t get enough water it will go dormant or die. It is important to get at least 1″ of water per week when you consider natural rain and watering yourself. It is also more important to water completely that frequently. If possible, water for ~20 minutes so the water can soak deep into the soil driving the roots down vs. a light watering teasing the roots towards the surface water. This is why using a sprinkler is the most effective way to water a lawn. It can be time consuming to stand there hand watering, so setup your smart phone alarm for 20 minutes and go do something else.