Let’s Talk Lawn Fertilizer Treatments

Hometown (Olathe, KS) offers fertilizer lawn treatment services to the Johnson County area. I’m licensed in this and I have trouble keeping up. Keeping up with the latest competitor’s marketing plan that is. Hopping into the Way-Back Machine we used to get away with just a few turf applications a year. Today I see companies offering up to nine… 9 applications in a year. Huh? So, why is one company at 6 another at 7 and some at more? Let’s break that down.

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BALANCE

Lush green grass is everyone’s goal. Barring mechanical activities, to get to lush is a balance of 3 criteria. Sun, food and water. I tell all my clients, grass needs sun, food and water. However, too much or too little, of any or all, and you won’t have grass. This post is about the food part of the balance, with a bit of medicine.

Commercial lawn mowing

BACKGROUND

Here in KC, we have a majority of lawns established as cool-season grasses. Bluegrass and fescue. I like to ask new clients if they have a Bluegrass or Fescue lawn… if they don’t rattle off Bluegrass or say I don’t know, then I jest “You have Fescue, because you would know if you had Bluegrass.” The reason is the dedication it takes to maintain a Bluegrass lawn in KC. The fine blade is very vulnerable to our harsh climate. So, we have 3-way Fescue blend grasses. What that means is there are 3 different species of fescue in a blend. When you’re going to GrassPad for seed, you are picking a fescue blend.

A proper fertilizer program assists for a beautiful lawn.

Common points for creating a blend are these three criteria:

  1. Beauty
  2. Disease Tolerance
  3. Drought Tolerance

There’s no such thing as an “all-around” single species, so we blend three of the best individual species for each of the noted above. 

NEED

Food is good. All living things require nutrients and grass is no exception. An industry rule-of-thumb is to target 2-4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sqft per year on a cool-season turf grass lawn. An annual lawn fertilizer program at a minimum should deliver this 2-4 lbs/1,000 sqft /year.

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PESTS

A pest is defined as the “outsider”. Whether it be plant or animal, pest control is part of proper turf management. Pest control can be done environmentally and/or chemically. Today we are discussing chemical. Organic pest control pretty much should be non-existent. Get just about any researcher alone, and they will off-the-record tell you. Consequently, we don’t offer an Organic pest option, we recommend to use an environmental one instead. 

Pet safe lawn fertilizer treatments

Common Kansas City cool-season turf grass pests are:

  1. Crabgrass
  2. Broadleaf Weeds
  3. Insects / Worms (Grubs)    

An annual lawn fertilizer program should address all three of these cool-season pests.

DEFENSE

The best defense is a good offense. We’ve all heard that cliche. In lawns it’s applies as well.  A dense turf is the best defense to pests. A dense turf will require less spot treatments, ie: chemicals as well as prevents erosion and is complementary to the landscape. 

OVERALL
Fertilizer application

A fertilizer application program can only do so much. Although it is both pro-active and re-active, it takes time to become effective. I advise clients it’s a year to start to see results and two years to really see the effects. Of course, in combination with proper mechanical and cultivation management.

Overall, a fertilizer program is a global address to turf health and not a be-all, end-all in lieu of proper cultivation, maintenance and watering. Turf management is a science, a skill and an art. What can take years to achieve, can take minutes to destroy and having a professional service provider can provide proper guidance to get the lawn of your desire.

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So, down to brass tacks…

  1. Needs
    1. 4 lbs of nitrogen
    2. Crabgrass granular prevent
    3. Broadleaf Control
    4. Grub Control
  2. Options
    1. Insect Control
    2. Ph balancer
    3. Additional Nitrogen

I’m going to use our 6-Step Fertilizer Program as an example of how to achieve the minimum needs for an annual fertilizer program in Kansas City.

  1. Split Application of Crabgrass Prevent 13-0-0
  2. Split Application of Crabgrass Prevent 19-0-0
  3. Broadleaf Control
  4. Grub Control
  5. Fertilizer 18-24-12
  6. Winterizer 46-0-0

This program calculates to approximately 3.5 lbs. / 1,000 sqft / year

So we can see, we can hit the needs of most lawns in the 6 steps of our program. More steps would be required to address insects or to increase nitrogen, make it GREEN! Some lawns would need more, but only if a need is shown. It’s not something that would be assumed or should be pitched “just because”. 

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