Lawn Care
everything for lawn care all in one place
providing dependable & original lawn tips since 2008
The Lawn Guide
Lawn Fertiliser Review

'New Content'

By Kate Wall

We are aware of the need to fertilise lawns, but choosing a fertiliser is not always easy when there are many products to choose from. While there are many brands available, each making their own claims to greatness, understanding the basic types of lawn fertiliser and when they might be best used will help narrow the choice.

Nutrient Analysis

All commercially available fertilisers are required to display the nutrient analysis on the packaging. This is often reduced to the N:P:K ratio, which is the ratio of the 3 major plant nutrients; nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). Other important plant nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron and sulphur are also listed on the packaging if they are present.

Nitrogen is required for producing green leaves in plants. In a lawn nitrogen is important as the green leaf is the part which is regularly cut and removed when mowing, and the part which needs replacing if the lawn is to remain green. Lawn fertilisers are therefore usually fairly high in nitrogen. Phosphorous and potassium and the other major and minor plant nutrients are also required to allow for root development, plant strength, good health and disease resistance. Complete lawn care will be best achieved by providing a range of nutrients, not only nitrogen.

Fast Acting vs Slow Release

In general, a fast acting fertiliser will give a very quick flush of new green growth but that flush will not last long. By contrast a slow release fertiliser will not give such impressive instant results, although it will give reasonably fast results in a lawn. The great benefit of a slow release fertiliser is in its ability to deliver a small but constant feed over a period of months instead of weeks. This gives improved growth which is sustained over time as opposed to instant but short lived results. Slow release fertilisers are almost always better value for money, and give better results for your lawn. If a fertiliser does not say slow release on the label, it is likely not. Usually fast acting fertilisers are in powdered or very small pellet form. Slow release fertilisers are usually in the form of granules which dissolve and therefore release their nutrients more slowly.

An exception is organic fertilisers. Organic fertilisers are in plant safe forms and bound into organic matter which is naturally a slow release form of fertiliser, even if this is not stated on the product.

High Nitrogen Fertilisers

All high nitrogen fertilisers have the ability to burn sensitive plants and even lawns if used too heavily. Excess of nitrogen without sufficient balance of other nutrients can cause fast green growth which is weak and prone to drying out as well as pests and diseases. While nitrogen is required for a healthy lawn, a complete and balanced fertiliser is recommended for healthy plants and better long term results.

Organic Fertilisers

Organic fertilisers are usually in the form of pellets based on composted chicken or other animal manure. These fertilisers have the nutrients bound in organic matter which plays an important role in improving soil health and structure as well as providing nutrients to plants. The nitrogen level in these fertilisers is generally quite low (below 5%) and therefore there is almost no risk of burning the grass through over fertilising. These fertilisers work well on lawns, however they do often lack the complete balance of nutrients required for healthy plant growth and are best supplemented with either rock minerals or a balanced inorganic fertiliser occasionally. Some of the more expensive brands such as Seamungus or Eco88 contain additional sources of organic plant food and have a greater range of major and minor plant nutrients contained within the one product.

Blood and bone is another type of commonly used organic fertiliser. Nitrogen values in blood and bone vary between brands but can be surprisingly low. Blood and bone is a good source of phosphorous but contains no potassium.

Most organic fertilisers can be smelly for a day or so and in this time can be highly attractive to dogs. This can result in dogs digging in the lawn or garden and eating the fertiliser and becoming sick. They are best used when there is rain to water them in well or when there are no dogs around. An exception is to use rock minerals, usually available from produce stores or specialists rather than major hardware chains. Rock minerals products vary but usually contain a huge range of different major and minor plant nutrients as well as trace elements which not only enhance plant growth, but also greatly improve soil health. They can be used in combination with other fertilisers to increase the effectiveness of other fertilisers.

Inorganic Fertilisers

Inorganic fertilisers come in different forms and can be powders, pellets or granules. As these fertilisers are chemically produced, they have a repeatable and known chemical composition, which will be stated on the packaging in the nutrient analysis. Inorganic fertilisers can have high nitrogen levels (above 10%) and can often also have high salt levels, which can burn plants and lawns if applied too heavily. Err on the side of caution and use small amounts. Repeat the fertilising process a month or two later rather than apply more in one dose to reduce the risk of burning.

Dog owners often prefer using inorganic fertilisers as they are not attractive to dogs.

Inorganic fertilisers often have a handful of key plant nutrients contained within the formulation, not just the basic N:P:K. It is rare however that they will have a very large range of the smaller trace elements which are also required by plants. Each brand has a different make up of major and minor plant nutrients, and for this reason many lawn lovers will use a different brand regularly to provide different minor nutrients each time.

Inorganic fertilisers can be slow release and dissolve slowly to release nutrients to the lawn over many months. They do not contain additional organic matter or microbes and therefore offer no soil improvement.

A cross over product is called Lawn Blend by Earthlife. It contains inorganic lawn fertiliser in combination with rock minerals. This product therefore addresses the need for many different major, minor and trace nutrients, as well as giving significantly improved soil health.

For more information on Inorganic Fertilisers click here.

Weed and Feed

Combination products are becoming very popular as they are advertised as very easy to use. These products contain a broad leafed herbicide to kill broad leaved weeds in lawns at the same time as delivering a fast acting liquid fertiliser. Their effectiveness can be very variable as they can be unstable and degrade in hot conditions. It is often found that by fertilising the weeds at the same time as poisoning them, the weeds are better able to resist the poison and this not only does not effectively kill the weeds, but also assists them to develop resistance to the herbicide used. For this reason it is highly recommended to weed and feed a lawn as separate tasks.

Please note: Where 'New Content' is written at the top of an article this content has been added by the new owners of this website. If 'New Content' is not written, the information is from the previous site owner.

All content original and copyright
The Lawn Guide
Lawn Care Tips
you may also like one of
these lawn care articles...
General Lawn Care
Buffalo grass lawn in heavy seed The Reason For Lawns Seeding All...
Using lawn fertilisers properly How Does Fertiliser Burn Lawns...
The Best Time To Establish A New Lawn Best Time Of The Year To Plant...
Lawn Repair
A Vertimowing / Scarifying Machine What is Vertimowing or Lawn...
Improving Lawn Soil The soils underneath our lawns are more...
Over-seeding Lawns For Winter Reasons For Over Seeding Lawns Often...
Lawn Watering
A liquid Wetting Agent More Than Just Dry Soils A waxy coating on...
Correct retic sprinkler heights Lawn Sprinkler Heights Whether laying...
Adjusting From Excessive Watering Reducing Excessive Water Usage We...
Lawn Mowing
Push Lawn Mower Introduction to Push Mowers The push lawn mower is a...
Using Lawn Edgers Safely Using Lawn Edgers Safely Lawn edgers will...
Long periods between mowing shouldbe avoided to maintain good lawn...
Weeds | Pests | Diseases
By Kate Wall 'New Content' What are some of the most common lawn...
Burr Medic How To Kill Burr Medic Weed Burr Medic is another of the...
Crabgrass How To Kill Crowsfoot Grass / Crabgrass Crabgrass is of...
Lawn Varieties
What Is A Drought Tolerant Lawn The drought tolerance of lawns refers...
Avoid your turf wearing out 'New Content' Scuff Turf™ is the...
Durban Grass Characteristics of Durban Grass A old favourite lawn in...

Lawn care covers everything to do with maintenance of lawns, including seasonal lawn care, lawn fertilising, lawn clippings, seeding & more
independent lawn care tips for australian lawns

Lawn Care Facts
Lawn Fact:
Bowling Greens are watered once a week and mowed twice a day.
They can do this because they water very heavily and deeply, resulting in the lawn sending down very deep roots past the evaporation level, so the lawn always has access to adequate water.
Professional lawn care videos sharing quality lawn care tips in an easy video format - click to watch
correct lawn mowing techniques video
meanings to the most common terms
used in lawn care practices in australia
Lawn Care Expert
Respected Australian turf and plant breeder Todd Layt shares expert lawn care advice with lawn lovers
Grab this image and link to Australia's original & favourite source of quality lawn care tips
Lawn care tips for Australia's favourite shade grass
Organic lawn care advice to create environmental benefit from our lawns
Kill clover without pesticides Clover Is A Sign Of A Lawn In Trouble When Clover begins taking...
Organic lawn grub control How to Organically Control Lawn Grubs. Lawn grubs can become a real...
Lawn Mowing Heights to Save Water and Keep Lawns Healthy In keeping with the principles of...
A low maintenance and environmentally friendly lawn for all warmer regions
The Lawn Guide is putting a new focus onto Zoysia grass as the best lawn type for use in all...
Nara Zoysia growing well in the USA By Todd Layt 'New Content' Sold as Nara™ Native Turf in...
Zoysia and Winter Are Not Good Friends The one single drawback which stops Zoysia being the...
Lawn care discussions and observations in a friendly blog format from The Lawn Guide
Lawns Are The Greatest Carbon Cleaners We should all have confidence in our lawns, knowing...
As many people who have visited The Lawn Guide over the years, and since our first launch in...
Where Do Lawns Come From We're all very accustomed to our lawns these days, they seem to be...

Lawn Care Topics
the lawn guide ~ australia's leading source of quality lawn care information