Lawn Care – Using Fertilisers For Lawn Health Without Damaging the Environment
In this Universal Lawn Care Tip we’ll discover why we need to use fertilisers, how to choose them correctly, how to apply them, how often to use them, as well as one contractors secret to achieve greater results while using less fertiliser.
Our lawns once started off life as wild grasses from many different parts of the world. In these native environments, many checks and balances and promoters of health would occur naturally in order for the grass to grow to it’s full potential, while simultaneously keeping the grass variety in check so it would not become so successful that it would take over it’s native environment completely.
When we take these native grasses from exotic locations and tend to them, water them, and keep them as lawns, we have taken them from their natural environment where they have everything needed to thrive, and have instead created a monoculture. While the word monoculture may sound complicated, it simply means that we are growing this grass by itself, without everything it needs to thrive and stay controlled that it would otherwise have had in it’s native homeland.
While we now control the grass and keep it in check with lawn mowing we have missed one vital ingredient required for it’s survival and prosperity.
Nutrients are the food that is present in correct levels in the native environments of our grasses, but when we attempt to move the grass to the other side of the world and grow it as a lawn, these nutrients aren’t always available in correct amounts in order for the lawn to thrive. We restore this balance and give our lawns the nutrients it needs with the use of fertiliser.
When choosing a lawn fertiliser it is usually best practice to choose one which is formulated and produced locally. This ensures the fertiliser company has thoroughly tested the local environment and analysed which nutrients are missing that our lawns will require. The fertiliser products are then made to complement the local soils perfectly to give lawns the nutrients they are most in need of. As a tip, always choose a fertiliser which is properly balanced and includes Trace Elements.
Fertilisers are best applied with a special fertiliser spreader which can be purchased cheaply at most retail outlets that sell garden products. The fertiliser spreader should be set to apply only a small amount of the product, we then apply the fertiliser in two light applications, with each dose applied in a different direction. While we are still applying exactly the same amount of fertiliser, we are spreading it more evenly and reducing the possibility of over applying the fertiliser which could cause growth patches or burnt spots from excess fertiliser being applied unevenly. We always water the fertiliser into the lawn immediately after application to ensure the safety of people and pets, and to prevent fertiliser from burning our lawns, which can occur if it is left to sit on a lawn for too long.
There is one golden rule when it comes to fertiliser application, we should apply fertiliser in small amounts and on a regular basis. By using this method the lawn can easily absorb and use each application of fertiliser to it’s greatest benefit, while avoiding the risk of wasting fertiliser into the open environment. Further dangers associated with over fertilising are rapid growth rates of the lawn which may lead to damage occurring from lawn mowing, as well as promoting excessive growth of the thatch layer. One important point to consider is that excess fertiliser usage does not make a lawn greener, it simply wastes fertiliser and damages the environment.
Most fertilisers will have manufacturers directions for usage contained on the packaging, for most homeowners it’s always best to follow these directions exactly for the best results. These directions usually instruct the lawn owner to apply the product every 2 months at a predetermined ratio, as an example this ratio may be 50 grams per square metre of lawn. However, there is a better way to apply almost every type of fertiliser to achieve better results and greener lawns with less fertiliser usage.
The method is an old one within the lawn care industry, simply halve the amount of fertiliser recommended on the product packaging and apply every 6 weeks instead of every 2 months. By using this method the lawn always has an ongoing feed of nutrients in low levels that can be easily absorbed and used by the lawn to attain maximum benefit.
Fertilising our lawns in Winter requires the use of a different type of fertiliser. Providing our lawn doesn’t freeze or snow over in the Winter, our lawn will benefit greatly from an application of Winter Fertiliser prior to the start of Winter, as well as one application in the middle of Winter. Winter fertiliser usually contains no Trace Elements except for a higher than normal ratio of Iron, which is essential to maintaining the green leaf and health of the lawn during the colder months.
Our essential guide to Universal Lawn Care concludes with our next article in the series which discusses Weeds, Pests and Diseases, and reveals why our lawns become infested with these problems, and how we can use natural methods to prevent their establishment.
Steve Beckmand is an established and respected Lawn Care professional based in Perth, Australia. His extensive knowledge of lawn care is derived from 10 years of commitment to excellence within the industry, and complimented by horticultural training in Australian Technical Colleges. Steve writes lawn care advice for 6 lawn advice websites, has written for industry publications, as well as designing business plan models used as training tools for Government accredited training organisations. This passion, experience and training for lawn care has been extended to create Australia’s largest and most comprehensive lawn care website designed for everyday people to create and maintain a beautiful lawn.