All living things require food, water, and air for survival. That being said, there are a smorgasbord of choices available to help not only keep us alive but thrive. Many of us have the access and ability to make healthy nutritional choices. We can educate ourselves about good nutrition, read labels, and seek a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Yet, we sometimes opt for the instant gratification of foods high in sugars, additives, preservatives and unhealthy fats. We may even unknowingly purchase these items under the guise of “healthy.”
In most cases, better choices result in healthier human beings with stronger immune systems. The same can be said for lawn and turf care. Good nutrition can provide healthier turf with a stronger immune system, which is naturally more resistant to disease, weeds and insects.
Choosing the right fertilizer (or “lawn food”) and applying it at the right time and at the right rate is vital to the health of your lawn.
As you prepare to put your lawn “to bed” for winter, here are 4 items to consider:
1. Read Labels. The three main nutrients found in fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Note: Phosphorous is banned in Wisconsin fertilizers with the exception of starter blends used when seeding. These products can be combined with organic matter as well.
2. Consider slow-release products. Nitrogen promotes the green color we all love but it also releases quickly like a “sugar high” then dropping “low” with need for quicker replenishment, which means you need more product at more overall cost to get results. Organic-based products such as 100% controlled-release nitrogen or 100% protected (stabilized) nitrogen, give your lawn opportunity to extend and utilize energy over time.
3. Make the “healthier” choice. The other main nutrient found in a bag of fertilizer is potassium. The role of potassium is to promote root density and root growth. The bigger and deeper the roots, the healthier the lawn will be. Healthier lawns also reduce the amount of chemical needed for weed and disease management.
4. One big meal or several little ones? Even experts tend to differ on the proper number of feedings. In the Midwest climate, a good rule to follow is to nourish your lawn seasonally, so four times per year. For years agronomists have stressed that early spring was perhaps the best time to feed your lawn; but today we find that possibly the most important feeding, often referred to as “winterizer,” takes place in late fall. Just as our animal friends store nutrition before hibernation, turf needs nutrition to stay alive while it sleeps. As turf transitions to winter dormancy, your lawn absorbs and stores nutrients in the root mass, and uses them for survival and an initial brilliant color response the following spring.
Lawn maintenance decisions don’t have to be difficult. Choosing products, services, and companies that work towards good nutrition are the first step towards healthier turf grasses and surrounding environments.
Do you have questions about how to prepare your lawn for a beautiful spring? Put them in the comments.