Your turf will need to be fed throughout the growing season and the type of nutrients that are needed will change as we go through spring summer and fall. It is always best to use a slow-release fertilizer, something that will provide nutrients for 6 to 8 weeks. Using a quick release, can cause a good amount of waste and will either leach through the soil or runoff into a lake or stream. Regardless of the variety of turf, it can only take in a certain amount of nutrients at a time.

In this article we will just cover the southern turf requirements and the macro nutrients, micronutrients are very dependent on what your soil actually needs and this varies greatly across the country. The three numbers on fertilizer bag represent a percentage of Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium.

  • Nitrogen is needed more in the spring and early summer and helps in shoot and root growth along with providing a dense canopy.
  • Phosphorus is needed for root growth and depending on your soil type, there may be enough in the soil without having to add any.
  • Potassium is going to help with drought and cold tolerance. It will also aid in reducing disease pressure.

The amount of Nitrogen needed at each application is dependent on the soil and turf variety. Typically, you will want to have a higher Nitrogen application in the spring to help get the turf growing out of dormancy and helping with any recovery from the cold. As we get into the heat of the summer, we want to reduce the amount used. Nitrogen causes growth which uses other resources and can be detrimental when under heat stress. In the fall we are wanting the turf to store nutrients for the winter to reduce cold stress.

Phosphorus and Potassium will be needed more in the late summer and fall months. This will help build the density and overall health of the root system. A deep heathy root system will help with heat stress and prepare the turf for winter dormancy. It is still needed in the spring and a soil test will help let you know the amount needed. It is important to not over fertilize and cause any water pollution.

It is always best to apply any fertilizer at a lower rate and more frequent if needed in the heat of the summer. We don’t want our turf needing more water due to a high rate of growth. Water restrictions are making it difficult to provide enough water as it is.