Fertilizer 101

In appreciation of the “green up” of springtime, we thought it would be fitting to create a clear post covering the science of fertilization. For a healthy lawn, you need nutrient rich soil. Over time, soil will naturally lose many of the important nutrients your lawn needs to survive. If you’re looking to have a lush, green lawn, you’re going to need to replace those lost nutrients. Fertilizer replaces and replenishes the essentials your lawn needs to grow strong and healthy. Growing healthy grass pays off in more ways than just looking good. Healthy turf improves air quality by trapping and storing carbon, and producing oxygen. It reduces air temperatures relative to roads, sidewalks and buildings, and can prevent soil erosion.

Primary Nutrients

Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These are the primary nutrients that every plant needs to survive. Fertilizer replaces these lost macro-nutrients in the soil. The nutrient ratio of fertilizers are indicated by 3 numbers on the jug or bag. Each number represents the percentage of that particular nutrient. 


Lawns need nitrogen (N). It is represented by the first number on the fertilizer jug. Nitrogen encourages rapid growth and promotes chlorophyll, which is the substance in plants responsible for photosynthesis, giving you lush, green grass. Lawn fertilizers will frequently have a high amount of nitrogen for this purpose. At Simple Plant Food, our fertilizers contain high quality ingredients, such as Urea Triazone, a type of slow-release nitrogen, which feeds grass slowly over many weeks.  


Phosphorus (P) is represented by the middle number on the jug. It is very effective at promoting seed formation and establishing growth below ground, as in the development of healthy root systems. However, it is best to avoid excessive amounts of phosphorus, as it can build up and interfere with the lawn’s ability to absorb nitrogen. 


The third number represents potassium (K), also known as potash. Potassium is important for overall health. This is due to its ability to help build strong cells within grass and plant tissues. In turn, it will help grass withstand various stressors, such as drought, heat, cold, pests and disease. Like nitrogen, potassium plays a key part in the formation of chlorophyll and other plant compounds. Many grass types, like Zoysia and Centipede, need just as much potassium as they do nitrogen. Simple Plant Food’s Simple Balance has equal parts potassium and nitrogen, making it the easiest way to get those nutrients into your lawn. 

When To Fertilize

Southern, warm-season grasses, like Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine and Bermuda are best fertilized mid spring and again in late summer or early fall. Northern, cool-season grasses, such as Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass and Rye are best fertilized in the early fall and again in late spring.

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