A lot of people may not fully understand what the three numbers on a bag of lawn fertilizer actually stand for, or how each one is important to your lawn. Beyond knowing that the numbers represent - nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus (N, P, K) - how those numbers relate to specific lawn needs may be a mystery to you.
The numbers specify the percentage by weight for each of the three primary nutrients in a bag of lawn fertilizer. There are many combinations of these nutrients available, each with the ability to produce different results. Here is a quick breakdown of what each of these numbers represents, plus some basics on what they will do for your lawn.
N = Nitrogen
The first number on a bag of lawn fertilizer signifies the percentage of nitrogen (N). Nitrogen is the greening component in fertilizer. Your lawn uses nitrogen to build lush, healthy green blades of grass. It is the nutrient responsible for the growth above ground that you see.
Nitrogen helps your grass produce chlorophyll. This is the energy source for your lawn. By producing chlorophyll, enhanced by a healthy supply of nitrogen, your grass can successfully complete the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the way your lawn generates the energy to grow.
Healthy lawns, those with a good supply of nitrogen, will produce a bold green color. The grass blades will be thick, producing a lush carpet type lawn. When a lawn is suffering from a deficiency in nitrogen, you may notice slow, or sporadic growth, plus a dull green – yellow tint to your grass.
P = Phosphorus
The middle number on a bag of lawn fertilizer stands for the percentage by weight of phosphorus. Phosphorus gets to the root of your lawn, literally.
Phosphorus helps grass endure harsh climate changes like the intense heat of summer, extended dry periods, or the cold of winter. Plus, a healthy level of phosphorus gives your lawn the ability to help resist disease.
Phosphorus does this by building a strong root foundation. Good root structure helps your grass absorb moisture and other nutrients into the blades. Nitrogen feeds what you see, while phosphorus supports that all-important part of your lawn that you don't see - the roots underground.
K = Potassium
While the nitrogen component in fertilizer helps to promote lush green growth above the ground, phosphorus supports strong roots. Potassium is the food source that makes the blades of grass in your yard strong.
This helps your lawn deal with stress like mowing and foot traffic. If your lawn has a well-established source of potassium, it will resist the damage caused by these types of unnatural stress.
Potassium strengthens the blades of grass in your lawn by helping it to better hold moisture, which keeps it pliable. A more flexible blade of grass will not break or crack as easily under stress. Potassium is the nutrient in lawn fertilizer that makes your lawn tougher.
Each of the three primary nutrients in a bag of fertilizer will help your lawn in a specific way. If you have any questions about which of these elements your lawn is most in need of, consult with a lawn care specialist to get expert advice. By understanding what each of these nutrients provides for your lawn and what your lawn lacks, you will be able to better choose the right combination.
For more information, contact Collins Lawn/Insect Control or a similar company.