If green, dense, healthy turf is what you are looking for, understanding how to manage the nutrient levels is essential. Not only does appropriate management of nutrients in turfgrass allow for a functional, green turf, it also ensures the grass better tolerates external stresses like drought and extreme heat. Turf lacking nutrients is also more prone to diseases and pests, adding another layer of management into the mix. Optimize your turf nutrient levels to get the best result; test before you apply, understand the nutrients needed and time it right.
Test before you start
Know what’s in your soil before you fertilize. Testing your soil every two to three years is recommended but testing yearly can certainly help to verify the nutrient levels if you want extra assurance. Some soils may need to be tested more than others—sandy soils should be tested more often than heavy (clay) soils. In addition to soil testing, you may want to tissue test to get a better understanding of your turf’s current nutrient levels. Ensure the sample is representative of the area, contaminant-free and collected in accordance to the lab’s instructions. Failure to test correctly can lead to inaccurate nutrient recommendations and ultimately lead to over-or under-fertilizing of the turf.
Understanding necessary nutrients
From your soil and tissue tests, you should only apply the levels of nutrients your turf needs. Nitrogen (N) has the greatest impact on established turf, with help from phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) for strong root and stem growth. Carefully watch levels of these nutrients, as a deficiency could lead to yellowing and decreased functionality of your turf. Keep in mind the 13 other essential nutrients required for turfgrass—both macronutrients like calcium and magnesium, and micronutrients like copper and chlorine. All 16 nutrients play a role in a healthy turf, so understanding their functions can help you to make decisions in nutrient management.
Time it right
Fertilizer timing can make an impact on how it affects the nutrient uptake in the turf. During the turfgrass establishment period, fertilization can lead to nutrient mismanagement. For example, inappropriately timed N application can lead to reduced fertilizer uptake across a variety of grasses. Cool-season grasses like bluegrasses and fescues will benefit from the majority of N being applied in late summer or fall, whereas spring and summer applications are best suited to established warm-season grasses. Consider your soil, grass type and climate to best determine when application is suitable to reduce the opportunity for runoff or leaching.
When you’ve determined the best time for fertilization, Rainbow Plant Food is a great choice to ensure your turf crop gets exactly the nutrients it needs. Even spreading, balanced nutrition and in a highly available water-soluble sulfate form, Rainbow will move quickly to reach the roots in the most efficient form to produce healthy turf.
For additional turfgrass application recommendations, click here.