What Is the Best Fertilizer for Grass?


Quick Answer

The best fertilizer for grass depends on how much nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium a lawn needs. To get fertilizer with the correct nutrients, experts recommend having soil tested. Private companies and many university extension services do testing for soils' chemical content.

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Full Answer

Fertilizer requirements vary from lawn to lawn, depending on the amount of chemicals native to the soil and present from previous fertilizations. If soil is high in phosphorous and potassium, fertilizer with just nitrogen is good; the fertilizer bag lists the content in this case as 21-0-0 or 46-0-0. Soil with low phosphorous or potassium requires fertilizer labeled 20-5-10 or 23-0-6, according to the University of Minnesota Extension.

Labels on fertilizer bags give percentages of the three nutrients. A common grade is 23-0-6, for example. This means the fertilizer has 23 percent nitrogen, no phosphorous and 6 percent potassium in the form of K2O.

The type of fertilizer depends on grass variety and the nutrients in the soil. High-maintenance lawns in the United States grow Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass varieties and require more fertilizer. Low-maintenance lawns grow hard fescue, creeping red fescue and some types of Kentucky bluegrass that grow more slowly.

Lawns that grow vigorously, are heavily watered and from which clippings are removed require more fertilizer. Less nitrogen is necessary if clippings are left on the lawn. It doesn't matter much whether liquid or dry fertilizer is used, UM-Extension says. Fertilize in fall rather than spring and water the lawn immediately.

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