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Fertilizing – All the Crap You Need To Know
By Amanda Whatley Owen
web posted April 23, 2018
GARDENING -  Spring time…when we see all the leaves sprouting on the trees, colorful flower blooms bursting out, and your grass becoming greener.  With all of this taking place, some folks think there is no need to spring fertilize, but don't let these green leaves and pretty blooms fool you.  Your lawn, as well as your flowers and shrubs, still need a healthy dose of spring food.  Applying spring fertilizers will help ease your landscape into its peak growing season, and provide needed nutrients that your plant may have lost over the winter. 

Let's talk about the lawn first.  Of course, everyone is focused on having the greenest, and most luscious grass.  Your lawn actually uses the most amount of energy because you're steadily cutting it, and it is constantly pumping nutrients through each blade of grass.

First thing first.  I would start with a liquid weed killer.  These can be found at your local garden center, and each one is labeled according to what kind of grass you have.  I always like to suggest Imagine, which can take care of any, and all, weeds including Bahia (sorry Dad, Bahia is not a grass, it’s a weed).  Another, great alternative is Bayer products.  Their products are packaged in a variety of ways.  You can mix it yourself, or the easiest way, is the type that you simply hook to your hose and spray.  After giving your lawn a week to breath and take in that weed killer, it's time to fertilize.

Fertilizing helps your lawn keep a strong root system to be able to stay strong and steadily pump nitrogen into each blade of grass making it greener and greener.

I would suggest a granular, slow-release fertilizer.  A basic one is 15-5-10. The first number is the nitrogen amount in the fertilizer.  If you have weeds in your lawn, then 15 is what you want right now.

You can also apply a 10-15-10, the higher number here is phosphorus which will help suffocate the weeds without giving it high amount of nitrogen.

One way I was taught to remember what the three numbers mean ia that the first number (nitrogen) helps above the dirt with foliage, while the second number (phosphorus) helps below the dirt with the root system.  Finally the third number (potassium) helps all over!

Many folks enjoy using Weed and Feed, which, I do not suggest.  Weed and Feed is like trying to kill weeds while highly fertilizing them at the same time. I do recommend getting a bag of pre-emergent and mixing it in with your fertilizer.  This will help prevent weeds from coming up.

A more natural lawn fertilizer, that I personally like, is Milogrante.  It can be found in large bags at your local garden center, and it also does well on flower beds.

As far as flower beds, shrubs, and annuals, I am a strong believer in Nelson slow release granular plant food.  They have different foods that cater to blooming flowers, azaleas, etc.  I have personally tried each of their products and refuse to use any other product now.

I love the “ColorStar” flowering fertilizer by Nelson's.  I use this product on my roses, annuals and perennials.  The “ColorStar Plus” has a fungicide in it which is especially perfect for those annual flowers prone to get fungal problems due to wet areas, or heavy rains.  Applying this product once a month is all you need.

A natural way of providing your plants with natural fertilizer is mixing cow manure, chicken manure, cricket manure, or my favorite, mushroom compost, in the soil in the beds.  Don’t forget your compost bin which will bring in high amounts of natural nutrients as well. 

Next week in Mandy’s Friendly Garden, we’ll touch on Water Gardens.

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