Turfgrass Maintenance Fertilization

An important first step to fertilizing your lawn is to test your soil to determine what fertilizer is best for your lawn. Testing your soil through AgriLife is inexpensive and can help you determine what nutrients you actually need. North Texas soils may already have enough phosphorous and potassium, so a fertilizer that provides only nitrogen might be the best choice.

When purchasing fertilizer, the three numbers on the bag represent Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium ratios. A well-balanced general fertilizer has a 4-1-2 ratio of nutrients. However, North Texas soils are commonly very high in potassium. Fertilizers that contain primarily nitrogen (like 21-0-0) and little to no phosphorous or potassium are often sufficient for our soils. Select a fertilizer that has slow release nitrogen. This information can be found on the back of your fertilizer bag. The fertilizers and other chemicals you apply to your landscape which go unused have the potential to leach out or wash away, wasting your money and polluting our stormwater. Fertilizer should only be applied to actively growing plant material for this reason. When applying your fertilizer, is it important to follow the label closely for safety protocols and application rates.

One recommended practice is to apply your fertilizer with a spreader at half the application rate in the first pass. Then, apply the remainder on a second perpendicular pass in a checker board pattern to ensure you do not miss any areas of your lawn. Missing areas could result in a striped pattern (example: If your fertilizer calls for you to set your spreader at an 8, set it at a 4 and apply back and forth in one direction and then again in the perpendicular direction. This provides the proper application rate with less of a chance of missed areas.)

Fertilizer spreader distribution pattern

Fertilizer spreader distribution pattern

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