We all know the minimum requirements for a healthy turfgrass lawn: water, sunlight and fertilizer. But many people do not understand the purpose and function of fertilizer in keeping a lawn beautiful and healthy.  Simply put fertilizers are organic or inorganic materials that are applied to the soil or turf that help provide required nutrients.

Plants’ mineral nutrient requirements are broken down into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. The three main macronutrients needed by plants are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Each of these nutrients serves a specific function in helping your turf grow.

  • Nitrogen – promotes leaf development, rapid growth, chlorophyll formation and protein synthesis.
  • Phosphorus – promotes early root growth, speeds maturity stimulates blowing and aids seed formation.
  • Potassium – increases drought and disease resistance, assists in root growth and stem development.

Most fertilizer products list the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium conten (or “NPK”) on the front of the bag, then a more detailed breakdown of these nutrients and others is listed in the product label. As with any treatment applied to your lawn, it is essential to understand what you’re applying, when and how much when fertilizing! Read and understand all label instructions! Applying fertilizer can have great benefits for your lawn if it is applied properly. To have a thorough understanding of your lawn’s fertility needs, soil testing is recommended.