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How Often to Fertilize and Weed Control
Every spring it is hard not to notice when you see many people fertilizing their lawns. The secret key to productive fertilization is to do so sparingly, especially in the spring. When you apply fertilizer in the spring you are encouraging heavy top growth.
This discourages the grass roots from growing and extending deep into the soil to search for nutrients. All you end up doing is mowing more frequently thus encouraging a thick thatch. Sure, you'll have to be more vigilant with weed control but a springtime application isn't necessarily helping to encourage strong, healthy turf.
If you are spreading fertilizer with weed control to discourage new weed growth there are other techniques to be considered before creating a chemically volatile soil.
Our personal preference is to use organic compounds. When looking for organic fertilizers there are three major nutrients; nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. You can find them in granule form at your local nurseries and garden supply stores. Or, if the case may be, ask your landscaper to use the organic compounds. Compost and manure are also good sources of nitrogen. Your grass clippings also do this naturally. Bagging is a waste. Just be sure that the decomposition rate for your clippings can keep up with the mowing schedule that you endure. See Mowing Chart for the specifics.
Fish emulsions are a great source of potassium and phosphorus. The native American Indians were really on to something with this. It can be expensive but if you've got a lot of money invested in uncommon or exotic plants or shrubs you'll be wise to append to this advice. Wood ash is another good source of potassium.We save our fireplace ashes all winter long stored next to our compost pile to utilize in spring.
Preemergent is sometimes necessary in spring and most preemergents combine weed killing with fertilizing. However, if you have a healthy dose of fertilizer in the fall and a good regiment of weed removal and soil conditioning, spring applications aren't really necessary. Spot spraying herbacide is a technique I utilize. Spot spraying is what it says; spraying only where it is needed. Your not completely covering the entire lawn surface. If you spot spray, especially perennial weeds left over from the previous growing season, systematically, you'll have a better chance of defeating the enemy. I recommend spot spraying before each mow as they're easier to see. And as you mow, make mental notes of any spots you may have missed and spray those after you've finished mowing. Remember, spring is the rainy season. The nitrogen levels in the rain water will produce a natural, deep green. Fertilizing in the spring is a waste of time, money and precious gasoline.
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