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Finding Fertilizers

by Laura Horwitz, All About Lawns Columnist

With such a wide variety of fertilizers on the market, how do you know which to choose? Having your soil analyzed is the best way to determine what your lawn needs, but before you do you should know what you're looking at in a fertilizer.
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Lawn Fertilizer Contents

Every fertilizer package lists three numbers, known as the analysis. These numbers indicate the percentage (by weight) of the main ingredients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K), in that orderbut .

Why these ingredients? Nitrogen stimulates growth and greenness, phosphorous aids the development of roots and seedlings, and potassium helps the grass build a stronger tolerance for disease and drought. Therefore, for growing green grass, many gardeners focus on fertilizers high in nitrogen.

As you can imagine, each lawn and plant needs its own type of care, so follow the instructions that come with any lawn fertilizer you buy.

Lawn Fertilizer Release Rates

Depending on the lawn care required, you should also examine the nitrogen-release rate or solubility of the fertilizer. While this may seem like a trivial detail, in fact two fertilizers with the exact same ingredient percentages can have different results depending on their release rate. Slow-release fertilizers time the release of nitrogen to correspond with the plant's growing needs, usually based on the pH, moisture, and temperature. Fertilizers advertised as "soluble" have a quick release rates, which feature an instant burst of growth or green grass with the sudden infusion of nitrogen.

Protecting the Environment

Using too much fertilizer can harm your lawn as well as the environment, so it's in your own best interest to follow the instructions and apply lawn fertilizer carefully. Naturally, organic fertilizers cause less damage to the environment than synthetic chemical ones. But even with these, using too much can be harmful.

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About the Author
Laura Horwitz has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for five years in both London and the US. She had a monthly landscaping and tips column for the Sussex County magazine RH Review, and her articles have appeared in Film Focus, 6 Degrees Film, and BizBash magazine.

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