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Thread: Lawn Fertilizer

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    Lawn Fertilizer

    Tis the season and you guys are my experts! What brand do you suggest? Does it matter what brand as long as the numbers are the same and what are good numbers for nitrogen etc.? What brand/kind of spreader do you suggest? Also, had a real hack job done when our lawn was originally done. Does it make sense to continually spread black dirt in an attempt to build up the lawn?

    Thanks!!!!!!!!!



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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Good questions. I'm going to do a weed and feed on my lawn, and have been curious if now is the right time, or if I should wait?



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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    From a thread a couple weeks ago.....

    About fertilizers?

    I think I post this and info and the above post every year on CF but I will post again hoping that it will help out. On the bags of fertilizer you buy you will see 3 numbers in a format like this........27-3-2 that signify N-P-K or nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Scotts and the other stuff you buy are always going to be high in the first number which is Nitrogen. Nitrogen is what gets the plant growing from the ground up so when you apply that your grass will grow fast and look nice and green....at the expense of you mowing it twice a week. If it was up to me, the first number would be low and the next two (P & K) would be higher. Phosphorous and Potassium are what gets your grass growing below the soil so it develops root structure and plant health below ground but not at the expense of mowing more often. This will take a little longer to see but your grass will become dark green and will also be a lot more drought tolerant when things dry up at the end of the summer. Companies out there doing lawn service go for the N high fertilizer because it shows up faster and they want to show up other services to a consumer that wants to see results now. But another reason is the DNR restricts the amount of Phosphorous you can apply because of runoff.

    The most ideal way to get fertilizer would be to go to your local Fertilizer supplier and tell them you want a 50/50 mix of two types of fertilizer. DAP 18-46-0 and Potash 0-0-60 mixed 1/2 of each gives you a final product that is 9-23-30. Apply that two times a year at the rate of 200-250 lbs / acre. Using a 65' x 125' lot as an example is 8,125 sq ft divide by 43,560 equals .1865 acres times 200lbs = 37 lbs.....250lbs would be 46 lbs so 35-45 lbs would be fine. This will get you a nice looking lawn but one you don't have to mow as often and it is a lot healthier then the top heavy grass you get pumping it full of nitrogen. Your grass will stay alive and full longer in times of hot and dry conditions which is the best pesticide you can have to prevent weeds especially crabgrass which really doesn't get going until mid July......see above. Full healthy grass shades the soil making it a lot tougher for those late season weeds to start growing.

    These 3 and 4 step plans are a joke IMO especially when they tell you to put down crabgrass preventer before May because the preventor will be used up in 6 weeks anyway.

    If you live in the City and have no agricultural ties, there are a lot of Coops close to town that actually bag up the product I talked about above and it is a heck of a lot cheaper then this other stuff Scott's and the like promote.

    WHen to put it on? Grass don't start coming out of dormancy until the ground temperature gets to 50-54 degrees so there really is no need to apply it before early to mid April. Put it on when the frost is still in the ground and chances are it ends up in the sewer drains(if you are in town). It does absolutely no good till the grass can use it.

    Apply the second application(if you want to do a second one) late summer or fall when the ground has good moisture in it and the grass is not dormant. The worst thing you can do is apply it when it is hot and dry as it can actually burn the grass and even kill it. So if we have a hot dry Summer and dry Fall I would skip the 2nd application or at least wait till a couple days after a good soaking rain.
    The biggest thing about crabgrass is when it germinates. Most grasses begin to wake up and grow when the soil temp gets in the early 50's. Crabgrass can too, but in most of the cases it don't really start to grow till the soil temps get in the mid 70's to 80 degrees which is usually the end of June to mid July here in Iowa. Good crabgrass herbicides have a 6 week residual, meaning they will work at preventing germination for up to 6 weeks after applied. You apply crabgrass preventer herbicide in March or April you're throwing your money away. Apply it in the middle of May or later is about the right time.

    This is a good website to follow soil temps in Iowa.

    http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/data/soilt_day1.png



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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Has anyone used the corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent before..? If so what is the per acre/lbs and when should that be applied with the pot ash etc.

    thanks



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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Quote Originally Posted by cyhawkdmb View Post
    Has anyone used the corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent before..? If so what is the per acre/lbs and when should that be applied with the pot ash etc.

    thanks
    Here's the original research article for corn gluten meal:
    http://www.hort.iastate.edu/gluten/pdf/cornglut3.pdf

    The lowest application rate, 99 g/m-2, equates to just under 900 lbs/acre and only provided 50% crabgrass control in the field study. To get 95% weed control, which most chemical herbicides can provide, the rate had to increase to near 500g/m-2 or 4500 lbs/acre. Personally, as a weed scientist, I'd use more reliable methods of weed control.



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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclonesrule91 View Post
    From a thread a couple weeks ago.....
    That advice is not good. The amount of phosphorus in that plan is WAAAAAAAY more than a lawn will need once it is established. In the end the phosporus will tie up other nutrients, most notably iron, and will help weed seed. Also, one must be careful when using ag grade fertilizers(DAP and Potash) on their lawn as they can burn the turf if not watered in immediately.

    If your lawn is established, find a fertilizer that has more like a 2-1-2 ratio. You just don't need much phosporus as it is immobile in the soil. Nitrogen for growth and potassium for stress.

    Turfgrass starts its biological processes when soil temps are in the 43 degree range. At this time you need a fertilizer with some available nitrgoen(nitrate) as some forms won't be available. If you look at the label, most fertilzers will have a nitrogen breakdown and will same something like "readily available" or "quick release." If it doesn't have that, then it will take time for the Nitrogen to relase and most times that is reliant microbial activity which is driven by soil temps (some exceptions).

    As far as pre emergent goes...IMO it is tooo early. Wait until the forsythia bloom and then apply your pre emergent. if you don't know what forsythia look like here is a link forsythia - Google Search.
    If you apply your pre emergent too early, it will breakdown and you will be unprotected later int he year.

    BTW- The best preemergent around is a good healthy lawn. I have maintained a golf course and didn't apply a preemergent for 3 years.


    Last edited by tazclone; 03-21-2011 at 07:53 AM.
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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    All I can add to this is to use a pre emergent. You have no idea how much it helps until you skip a year.


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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclones_R_GR8 View Post
    All I can add to this is to use a pre emergent. You have no idea how much it helps until you skip a year.
    If you have a healthy stand of grass, you shouldn't need pre emergent


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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Quote Originally Posted by tazclone View Post
    If you have a healthy stand of grass, you shouldn't need pre emergent
    This is very true. Competition by a healthy stand of grass is very tough for weeds to overcome.



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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Quote Originally Posted by bobh33 View Post
    Tis the season and you guys are my experts! What brand do you suggest? Does it matter what brand as long as the numbers are the same and what are good numbers for nitrogen etc.? What brand/kind of spreader do you suggest? Also, had a real hack job done when our lawn was originally done. Does it make sense to continually spread black dirt in an attempt to build up the lawn?

    Thanks!!!!!!!!!
    People will disagree with me but I think Scott's is crap. One year I ran out in the middle and finished with Kmart's K-Gro brand (which I believe is manufactured by Spectracide) and that part of my yard (the K-Gro part) was greener and healthier for the rest of the year.



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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Quote Originally Posted by tazclone View Post
    That advice is not good. The amount of phosphorus in that plan is WAAAAAAAY more than a lawn will need once it is established. In the end the phosporus will tie up other nutrients, most notably iron, and will help weed seed. Also, one must be careful when using ag grade fertilizers(DAP and Potash) on their lawn as they can burn the turf if not watered in immediately.
    I can point to quite a few lawns that use that fertilizer that would dispute your info. These yards that use the 9-23-30 look a heck of a lot better then the ones getting the 4 step plan. And the fertilizer will burn the grass if the soil is dry and the conditions are very hot. I usually apply it when rain is coming but if it is cool and the soil has good moisture there won't be any burning.......

    If your lawn is established, find a fertilizer that has more like a 2-1-2 ratio. You just don't need much phosporus as it is immobile in the soil. Nitrogen for growth and potassium for stress.
    2-1-2 is too much N unless you like to mow your lawn 2 times a week. Commercial fertilizer programs are high in N because they want to show immediate results and above the ground shows up faster. Meanwhile root development at the levels applied by the Scotts program does not happen like it does when a higher rate of P and K are applied, although it takes a little longer for it to show up in the yard, but your mowing frequency does not increase. It also develops drought tolerance.

    Turfgrass starts its biological processes when soil temps are in the 43 degree range. At this time you need a fertilizer with some available nitrgoen(nitrate) as some forms won't be available. If you look at the label, most fertilzers will have a nitrogen breakdown and will same something like "readily available" or "quick release." If it doesn't have that, then it will take time for the Nitrogen to relase and most times that is reliant microbial activity which is driven by soil temps (some exceptions).
    Might start at 43 degrees but doesn't really start taking off till the grass gets to 50 and above......

    As far as pre emergent goes...IMO it is tooo early. Wait until the forsythia bloom and then apply your pre emergent. if you don't know what forsythia look like here is a link forsythia - Google Search.
    If you apply your pre emergent too early, it will breakdown and you will be unprotected later int he year.

    BTW- The best preemergent around is a good healthy lawn. I have maintained a golf course and didn't apply a preemergent for 3 years.
    ON the last part we agree.

    The bad part of all these recommendations is that you can google lawn fertilizer and you can find links to support any fertilizer program out there no matter how scatter brained the program is. The research based on what I think should be applied is based on being in the agronomy business for 15 yrs and using the information I provide based on what I have done in the past.



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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclonesrule91 View Post
    From a thread a couple weeks ago.....
    I use 50 lbs per 10,000 sq ft of a 10-10-10, 2-3 times a year. Am I putting on too much?


    Last edited by NebrClone; 03-21-2011 at 09:10 AM.

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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclonesrule91 View Post
    I can point to quite a few lawns that use that fertilizer that would dispute your info. These yards that use the 9-23-30 look a heck of a lot better then the ones getting the 4 step plan. And the fertilizer will burn the grass if the soil is dry and the conditions are very hot. I usually apply it when rain is coming but if it is cool and the soil has good moisture there won't be any burning.......



    2-1-2 is too much N unless you like to mow your lawn 2 times a week. Commercial fertilizer programs are high in N because they want to show immediate results and above the ground shows up faster. Meanwhile root development at the levels applied by the Scotts program does not happen like it does when a higher rate of P and K are applied, although it takes a little longer for it to show up in the yard, but your mowing frequency does not increase. It also develops drought tolerance.



    Might start at 43 degrees but doesn't really start taking off till the grass gets to 50 and above......



    ON the last part we agree.

    The bad part of all these recommendations is that you can google lawn fertilizer and you can find links to support any fertilizer program out there no matter how scatter brained the program is. The research based on what I think should be applied is based on being in the agronomy business for 15 yrs and using the information I provide based on what I have done in the past.
    20 years of growing grass, a minor in agronomy, and my turfgrass degree from ISU tells me that is WAAAAAY too much phosphorus. Turfgrass has a large root system that can utilize phosphorus in the soil much better than a lot of plants due to its fibrous nature. The phosphorus is also not harvested and removed unless you collect clippings. It is mostly returned to the soil when you mow.The big difference between crops and turf, is when you harvest a crop, you harvest the phosphorus which isn't the case with turf. Putting down that much phosphorus is a waste. It will tie up the Fe, as well as other micronutrients that are essential for plant growth especially in a high pH soil. Fe is the foundation of the chlorophyll molecule and is essential to energy production. Long term tie up of Fe will in turn lead to a weaker plant. While phosphorus is THE component of energy storage, more P does not equal more roots. And yes, Ag grade fertilzers will burn the turf if not watered in. You need to apply just before a rain or water them in and get them off the plant tissue. That is what i said.

    If you want to build roots with little growth then use a nitrate fertilzer when soil temps are 43-50 degrees. That is when you build roots. Fertilizing at that time will produced stored energy (roots) without top growth as the turf plant is not producing top growth. KNO3 13.5-0-45 (my favorite but it is very hot) or Calcium nitrate this time of the year are great products. Spring and late fall are when you build roots and produce lateral growth. Then use light N and Fe applications through the summer for color as well as K 990-0-50)applicaions for stress. DAP is a poor reecommendation this time of the year(depending where you live) as ammonium isn't readily available to the turf plant and has to be microbially broken down before the plant can use it. And like I said, the best way to build roots is with nitrogen in early spring and late fall.

    I agreee 100% about 4 step programs. They are worthless. ALL fertility should be done based off a soil test. I recommend a 2-1-2 ratio because N and K are relatively mobile so that type of fertilizer will not create any issues in the soil but will provide for photosynthesis(energy production) and stress. Therefore, it is a safe recommendation without knowing the soil type or its fertillity levels. What you have recommended could have long term negative affects on soil fertility based on what kind of soil it is. Sandy soil will not be affected but a clay soil will see major issues. Heck a 2-1-4 ratio is what I consider ideal but you will rarely find that in a commercial fertilzer. Your growth rate can be manipulated with your fertility rates pretty easily. lb of N early in the spring(soil temps at 43+) and then .25 ll N/month throughout the season for color. Then a lb of N later in the fall. Throw in .5-1lb of K per month throughout the season.

    BTW- Phosphorus is not in a lot of commercial grade fertilizers because you don't need it and it has gotten expensive. That is also a big reason you are seeing phosphorus restrictions. Phosphorus is immobile in the soil but if you put it down on the quantities you suggest, it may leach prior attaching to the soil colloid. I am sure we will begin to see phosphorus deficiencies years down the road but most homeowners have over applied for years so initially it won't be an issue.

    In the end, unless a homeowner is collecting clippings(harvesting phosphorus), amount of phosphorus fertilzer needed is extremely low. The turf plant is very efficient in its phosphorus use


    Last edited by tazclone; 03-21-2011 at 10:55 AM.
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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    The one thing to be careful about when using a crabgrass preventer is if you are trying to repair or re-seed a portion of your lawn it really makes new seed difficult to take. I skipped the crabgrass treatment last year and my lawn could use it again but I am debating if I should use it again this year or not because I have a few patches I need to level out and re-seed.


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    Re: Lawn Fertilizer

    Quote Originally Posted by NebrClone View Post
    I use 50 lbs per 10,000 sq ft of a 10-10-10, 2-3 times a year. Am I putting on too much?
    About right. Probably too much P(middle number) though


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