Lundholm Landscaping is a second generation landscape contracting company. We pride ourselves on premium quality, high functioning landscaping solutions. We feel that it is our civic duty to share our wealth of knowledge so that homeowners can make important decisions regarding their landscape. Today we will learn about “Conventional” feeding practices.
It’s 5:50 am on St. Patricks day of 2011. Most people are deep in sleep dreaming about how they plan to spend this festive day. I, on the other hand have been tossing and turning all night wondering if I should even write this article. As we press forward in our discussions, I will be encouraging all homeowners to stop pumping dangerous chemicals and pesticides into our lawns and our environment. In the next few posts, I will offer my “Green” plan for a healthy lawn and an even healthier environment. For now, I decided to go ahead with this posting because not everyone shares my views on the environment and lawn feeding. So on with it… today’s lesson is “Conventional” feeding methods for a Perfect Lawn.
“Conventional” fertilizing consists of a five step process. This five step program has been marketed for years and encourages a green, healthy “Appearing” lawn during the growing season. As we view a bag or container of fertilizer we always see a series of 3 numbers separated by a hyphen. The first number represents Nitrogen. I’m not going to get super scientific on you, but in a nutshell, Nitrogen is fuel for a thick, green lawn. The second number is Potassium. Potassium encourages root growth to help a lawn survive drought, foot traffic and the stress of summer. The third number is Potash. Potash encourages a healthy all around grass plant. There is a saying in the industry for the three numbers…Up, Down and All Around. Nitrogen is for the grass blades, Potassium is for the roots and Potash is for the entire grass plant. Another insiders tip on “Conventional” fertilizing programs is when to apply each step. For ease of remembering when to apply, applications are scheduled for the 5 holidays associated with the growing season. These fertilizers are available in both granular(applied with a spreader) or liquid(attaches to the end of your garden hose).
Step 1. Lawn Fertilizer with Crabgrass Preventer.
Apply on St. Patricks Day. This first application of fertilizer is designed to wake up a lawn and get the growing process off on the right foot. The numbers on a bag of early spring fertilizer may read 27-2-8. Step 1 is designed to promote top growth of grass blades while encouraging general plant health. The crab grass preventer is a chemical additive which prevents crab grass seeds from germinating.
Contrary to popular belief, crab grass is an annual plant(completes its lifecycle in 1 season). In the fall, crab grass plants will send up what I call an antenna. This antenna resembles an old fashioned TV antenna on the roof of a home. Anyway, this antenna is full of crab grass seeds. As the wind blows, these seeds are spread all over your lawn with hopes of germinating and taking over the lawn during the hot summer months. Early spring is an ideal time to apply Crab Grass preventer because crab grass seeds do not germinate until the air temperature reaches 80 degrees.
Step 2. Lawn Fertilizer Plus Weed Control.
Apply Memorial Day. Step 2 is designed to further promote top growth, overall plant health and is commonly referred to as “Weed and Feed”. Numbers on a bag of step 2 will read something 28-3-2. If a lawn isn’t Emerald Green at this point, it will be very soon. The second ingredient to Step 2 is broadleaf weed control. Broadleaf weeds are such things as Dandelions, Nuts Edge, Clover, Thistle and Chickweed. These weeds work their way into a lawn and compete for water and valuable nutrients.
The most important step in applying Step 2 is to make sure that the lawn is wet. Since a weed and feed is a topical weed control, it must stick to the weed in order to eliminate it. The chemicals in a weed and feed work their way into a grass plant, disrupt the photosynthesis cycle and kill the weed.
Step 3. Summer Fertilizer plus Insect Control
Apply on July 4th. Summer fertilizers prepare lawns for summer drought while killing insects that can affect a lawn. Numbers on a bag of Summer Fertilizer will read 20-0-8. Summer fertilizes may also contain additives that help grass absorb water and nutrients.
Summer fertilizers usually contain an insecticide which kills many insects found under the surface of lawns. The most common insect is Grubs. Grubs live in the ground and work their way up to the surface during the warmest months. While a lawn is most vulnerable in the summer heat, Grubs eat the roots of grass producing significant brown patches. Another nuisance pest associate with Grubs is moles. Moles burrow just beneath the surface eating Grubs and creating a linear mound. Granular summer fertilizers must be watered immediately after application to activate the product.
Step 4. Basic Lawn Fertizer
Apply Labor Day. Step 4 is a rebound type fertilizer and will boast numbers which resemble 32-0-4. This late summer application helps grass regain its vigor after a hot summer. This fertilizer can be granular or liquid and applied any time during the day.
Step 5. Winterizer with Weed Control.
Apply Columbus Day. Step 5 is a winterizer fertilizer that encourages deep root growth and overall plant health. Promoting deep, healthy roots during the dormant, winter months insures grass gets off to a healthy start the following season.
This late fall application may include a weed preventer. This preventer eliminates weed seeds on the surface and insures minimal competition for grass during the spring growing season.
All that being said, life in the lawn fertilizer world is about to take a serious turn. As responsible property owners, we need to put the environment first. Although the above mentioned steps and processes do produce a thick, green lawn the truth is that about 70 percent of these fertilizers and chemicals wind up in our lakes and streams as a result of runoff. Also, the steps mentioned above do absolutely nothing to the general make up of soils.
I am in the infant stages of coming up with an effective, proven system to have a healthy lawn by reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals and pesticides. The future of a healthy lawn must encourage the development of a micro climate in the soil beneath our turf. Future lawn care programs include the use of beneficial bacteria and micro nutrients which will naturally deter unwanted insects and build an immune system that chokes out weeds. Please take a few seconds to watch the video below to further understand the harsh impact that our current way of life is effecting our environment.
I am currently in the process of studying a new product line know as Holganix. The concept is a Holistic-Organic approach to creating a micro-environment where chemicals and pesticides are not needed. An environment that sustains itself while helping the environment instead of destroying it. My next few Tips will involve the developement of this new approach. Thanks for reading and please check back soon!
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See you out there.