Many of us have learned to appreciate our home’s outdoor spaces more than ever before. If you want to jump-start your lawn this year, spring is the perfect time to do so. All it takes is a little bit of prep and some high-quality 15-5-10 fertilizer to get you the greenest lawn you’ve ever owned.
For first-time homeowners (or anyone who thinks they lack a green thumb), lawn care can be incredibly overwhelming. If that sounds like you, don’t worry!
We’ve put together the must-know information that’s guaranteed to give you a beautiful lawn this spring.
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Lawn Fertilizer
As you can probably guess, not all fertilizers are the same. Some fertilizer formulas are designed specifically for vegetable plants — others for flowers.
The ones we’ll be focusing on are fertilizers designed for turfgrass.
Why is lawn fertilizer so important?
Plants don’t eat (duh!) — at least not in the traditional sense.
While we’re taught that plants are nearly self-sufficient thanks to photosynthesis, that’s not the whole story.
Just like people and animals, plants need to get some essential nutrients from the outside environment to survive. Many of these key nutrients come from the soil.
These nutrients do occur naturally in the soil. In gardens, lawns, and other densely planted areas, these nutrients are often consumed faster than replenished.
Fertilizer fills this gap by supplementing the soil when Mother Nature cannot.
Which nutrients do you need for healthy grass?
There are 16 essential nutrients in the plant world. Essential nutrients are those that plants cannot make themselves but must instead consume from the surrounding environment.
Of these nutrients, six are considered macronutrients: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are the major building blocks of plant life.
Plants get carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from air and water. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, however, must come from the soil.
What do those numbers mean?
You might have noticed that every fertilizer package has a set of three numbers separated by hyphens, known as fertilizer grade. You may even know that these numbers correlate to the number of specific nutrients present in the fertilizer.
The first number is the amount of nitrogen in the fertilizer. The second is the ratio of phosphate (or phosphorus). Finally, the last number represents the amount of potash (or potassium) present.
All fertilizer grades are held to a national standard, so you don’t need to worry about discrepancies between different brands and formulas.
Which nutrient ratio is best for springtime?
It’s not enough to know what those numbers stand for. You also need to know which ratio is best for your turfgrass and its specific needs.
For spring fertilizing, we recommend a 15-5-10 formula (or a very similar ratio, like 20-5-10). This ratio best meets the nutritional needs of turfgrass as it enters the growing season.
Granular vs. liquid vs. organic
We can break most fertilizers into one of three categories: granular, liquid, or organic. While each type lends itself to different uses, this also largely comes down to personal preference.
Granular fertilizers work by leaching nutrients into the soil via water. Avoid applying this fertilizer before a heavy rain.
Liquid fertilizers work great for smaller applications or upkeep throughout the growing season. If you have a small lawn, you might find liquid fertilizer just as practical as a granular formula.
Organic fertilizer includes things like compost, manure, and blood meal. These aren’t as popular for turfgrass because they’re hard to spread and attain a specific nutrient balance.
Our Favorite 15-5-10 Fertilizers to Feed Your Lawn This Year
Don’t want to wander the aisles of your local garden center hunting for the right 15-5-10 fertilizer? No problem.
Here are some of our top picks for feeding your turfgrass this spring:
Ferti-Lome Hi-Yield Lawn Fertilizer
For a fool-proof 15-5-10 fertilizer that’s appropriate for all grass species, we recommend the Ferti-Lome Hi-Yield Lawn Fertilizer. It is another granular formula, making it easy to spread by hand or using a push spreader.
Simple Lawn Solutions Lawn Food 16-4-8
- Complete NPK Lawn Food: 16-4-8 is the perfect blend of key macronutrients. This lawn liquid food turf fertilizer also...
- Contains High Quality Feed Grade Ingredients: Nourish your lawn with pure liquid Nutrients in a ready to use sprayer
- Easy To Use: Designed to be easily applied. This complete Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash formula gives your grass...
It’s important to remember that the 15-5-10 ratio is just a guideline. For example, the Simple Lawn Solutions Lawn Food 16-4-8 is a great liquid fertilizer that deviates from these numbers just slightly.
This liquid fertilizer is super-convenient to apply, especially on small lawns. It’s safe to use on all grass species and includes supportive ingredients like seaweed and fish byproducts for maximum growth.
Lesco Professional Turf Fertilizer 16-4-8
- Fertilizer contains a 25% slow release formulation
- Includes 3% iron for improved color response
- Superior performance for initial and extended greening
The Lesco Professional Turf Fertilizer 16-4-8 formula is another excellent option that deviates slightly from the recommended 15-5-10 ratio.
This granular fertilizer offers a 25-percent slow-release formulation, which is great for spreading out your lawn’s feeding over time. It also contains iron, which is a must for green lawns in warm climates.
How to Prep Your Lawn for Spring Growth
We can all agree that a lush, green lawn can make or break your home’s curb appeal. To get the most out of your turfgrass in the summer and fall, though, you need to lay down the right building blocks in the spring.
Fertilizing is, arguably, the most important part of spring prep. But it’s far from the only step you should be taking to get your lawn ready for the coming seasons.
Before you can get into the nitty-gritty of spring lawn care, you’ll need to deal with the wear and tear winter has taken on your yard.
Clean up any leaves or dead plant matter left behind from the previous year. This is a good time to identify any patches that might need to be filled with new topsoil and reseeded, as well.
Rake away thatch
No, raking isn’t to clean up any missed leaves. No matter what, you’ll need to rake your lawn as deeply as possible come springtime to remove thatch.
Thatch is the layer of dead grass left behind after each growing season. While this layer is quite obvious, new grass blades will quickly poke through as soon as the winter’s snow melts away. But this doesn’t mean you should just leave it be.
One year of thatch probably won’t impact your lawn’s health too much. If that layer builds up to a half-inch or more, however, it can wreak havoc on your turf’s continued health.
Thoroughly raking away any grass that died during winter can prevent this matted thatch layer in the first place.
Check the soil pH
Proper soil pH (or the level of acidity) is important for long-term turf health. While you don’t need to test your soil every year, it’s one of the best ways to guarantee that your grass has the ideal environment for growth.
Moss is one of the first signs of acidic soil. Since most grass species thrive in neutral soil, keeping an eye out for this telltale sign is important.
Testing your soil’s pH is, fortunately, quite simple. You can often send a small soil sample to your local agricultural or horticultural extension program for free testing.
If you’re unsure where to go for testing, your local Department of Natural Resources will likely have this information.
If you don’t have access to free testing in your area, you can purchase a soil testing kit to make it quick and easy to learn about your soil’s pH and nutrient balance.
Prevent weeds from the start
Whether your lawn is a weed war zone or only suffers from a few stragglers here and there, spring is the best time to treat your turfgrass to prevent their growth.
Pre-emergent herbicides work by stopping the growth of new weed seeds. With these products, you don’t need to worry about weeds choking out your grass or leaving holes in your lawn. They never get the chance to take root in the first place!
Another great strategy you can deploy during spring is to de-head weed flowers as they emerge. Dandelions and clover are common weeds that first appear in spring, and removing the flowers before they produce seeds can weaken the next generation.
Time to fertilize
You can do a lot of this prep work in late-winter or early-spring (it largely depends on when your area is snow-free). When it comes to fertilizing, though, you want to wait until your grass is ready.
Spring fertilization should be done once, sometime between late February and April.
To determine when your lawn is ready for fertilizer, watch for new growth. The best time to apply spring fertilizer is when your lawn is just long and thick enough to mow for the first time.
Must-Know FAQs for a Beautiful Lawn This Spring
One common mistake homeowners make is to avoid spring prep altogether. This normally happens when people don’t think they have the time or skills needed to do extremely detailed prep work.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions that can help you decode the confusing world of lawn care.
Should you aerate your lawn in the spring?
Spring is the perfect time to do a lot of your lawn care. When it comes to aeration, though, try to reserve this process for the summer or fall.
Aerating your lawn breaks up compacted soil, letting air and water permeate the surface more easily. That gives your turfgrass the resources it needs to grow. But it also opens up the soil to nasty weed seeds.
Spring aeration should only be done on extremely compacted soil — areas that experience a lot of foot traffic like children playing or pet activity. If you must aerate your lawn in the spring, stick to spot treatments.
Are nitrogen, phosphate, and potash the only nutrients in lawn fertilizer?
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are some of the most crucial nutrients to sustain plant life. However, the best lawn fertilizers contain far more than just these three ingredients.
The numbers you see prominently displayed on fertilizer packaging don’t include other minerals. Instead, you can find the additional nutrients and their concentrations by checking any fertilizer label’s fine print.
Don’t overthink your fertilizer selection — simple is often best. But if you know your soil is lacking some key minerals, this information can be an amazing tool.
How do you identify your lawn’s grass species?
Some 15-5-10 fertilizers are only recommended for specific grass species. Unless you planted your lawn yourself, though, it can be difficult to know exactly what type of grass you’re dealing with.
Knowing which species are most common in your area can help narrow down your search. You can then compare your turfgrass’s size, shape, and growth habits to these popular species to determine which is in your lawn.
If all else fails, a local landscaper or agricultural extension office might be able to identify your mystery blades!
You’re Already on Your Way to a Greener Lawn
Learning is half the battle! Now that you know what it takes to prep your lawn for a year of healthy growth, you’ll be surprised by just how easy the whole process can be.
While lawn care is usually a one-size-fits-all scenario, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you’re unsure. Professional landscapers, agricultural extension programs, and even hobby gardeners all make great resources when it comes to fertilizing and caring for turfgrass.
And, of course, don’t forget to be patient. Springtime prep and fertilizing with a 15-5-10 formula will give your lawn the tools it needs to grow strong. But that growth won’t happen overnight!
What’s your spring lawn care routine? Do you have any tips and tricks for new homeowners? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Last update on 2021-04-19 at 21:27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API