Fertilizer 101: Keeping A Healthy Yard

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Your soil supplies some of the nutrients that turfgrass needs. In some cases, fertilizer is necessary because your soil cannot supply the grass with all of the nutrients it requires to stay healthy and green over the years. But first of all, try not to use fertilizers and see how your turf reacts. In case you do need them, follow these rules:

1. Test your soil to have a proper fertilization. The test will tell you what nutrients the fertilizer should contain, the pH (acidity and alkalinity) levels and if there are any pest problems. Pest problems should be remedied before applying fertilizers, or the problem could be exacerbated.

2. Before choosing any type of fertilizer, take into consideration the time of year, the climate, soil type and most importantly the type of grass and health or condition of the lawn. Use a fertilizer with a low first number, preferably less than 10, and that contains a minimum of 505 slow release nitrogen.

3. Fertilize only once in the spring and once in the fall and don't fertilize when rain is expected in the next 24 hours. Rainwater not only leaches polluting nitrogen into the Bay, it also removes the fertilizer from your lawn so your soil won't take advantage of it.

4. If your household utilizes reclaimed water, it may not be needed for you to fertilize the soil so much or so often. Reclaimed water contains nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, which are also in fertilizer.

5. If you are fertilizing near any water bodies, leave a free area of about 10-foot (or a strip you consider large enough) for no pesticide and no fertilizer to get into the water body. Use a broom to remove fertilizer spilled onto driveways and sidewalks.