When to Fertilize Your Lawn and Garden for Best Results and Happy Plants!

How and When to Fertilize?

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Fertilizing is not as simple as buying the most economic bag at your local gardening store and throwing it over your plants. Different plants require different types and times of fertilization and knowing when to fertilize is essential for having a happy, healthy garden.


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Get to Know Your Soil

Fertilizers can be alkaline or, acidic and knowing how that will react with your current soil is very important. Certain plants require certain balances for nutrient release and growth.

To understand it further, the best thing you can do is perform a soil test. Purchase a soil test kit, they're relatively inexpensive, and follow the directions on the package. This will show you the pH of your soil.

Fertilizers have a balance of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, marked on fertilizer bags as N-P-K. Numbers replacing these letters explain the weight of each chemical in your fertilizer.

You can buy special fertilizers especially made for certain plants like roses that are balanced correctly. By testing your soil you can see what it needs from a fertilizer to grow your chosen plants. Most plants require a pH of around 7.0, though be sure to do your research before assuming this will work for you.

Visit this page for more information on plant pH requirements.

What Your Plants Need

Plants, like most things, live in three stages: they're born, they grow up and reproduce and they die. This is one of the fascinating things about gardening, being able to observe the different life stages of your plants.

During these three stages plants require different amounts of nutrients. In the initial growth stage they require larger amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous. Nitrogen spurs leafy growth, and sturdy stems and branches while phosphorous is required to sprout and grow roots.

Once the plant is in its prime of life, growing fruit, flowers or seed pods, potassium is needed to help produce these beautiful features. Potassium also helps the plant to protect itself from pests and disease.

And after this, when a plant goes dormant they don't require much of anything. They'll use remaining nutrients in the soil to rebuild next season or they'll make way for a new generation.

This should help you to understand your fertilizer requirements throughout the year. As some plants grow at different times and speeds throughout the season it's good to know what it requires when to ensure you have a beautiful garden or lawn. Be sure your fertilizer matches your plants' growth stages and needs.

When to Fertilize

Some people only fertilize their lawns and gardens once a year but an experienced horticulturist will tell you to fertilize at different times of the year for different reasons. Knowing more about plant growth helps with this.

It's familiar really. A plant starts out as a seed, germinates, grows and then produces a seed pod, fruit or flower. Some plants, like annuals, die afterwards and some become dormant. Fertilizing your plants during different growth stages helps build happy, healthy plants that grow strong root systems and stems.

  • In early spring plants reawaken from dormancy or begin to germinate beneath the soil. By fertilizing at this stage you provide your plants with a good start before they really take off and grow.
  • In late spring and early summer plants are actively growing, eating up all the nutrients in the soil around them. By supplying them with more nutrients through fertilizer; make sure it's one designed for summer feeding; you keep plants growing at a strong pace.
  • Late summer brings more rain and cooler temperatures. Fertilizing now helps plants recover from damage from summer heat and drought.
  • Before winter hits it's good to do one last fertilizer feed, especially on lawns, as this will help the plants stay strong through the winter months. This is especially important if you live in a colder, snowy winter climate. The nutrients will store in the soil and be ready for when the grass or plants begin to grow again in the spring.

When Not to Fertilize

There are a few added guidelines that will help you know better when to fertilize your lawn and garden:

  1. Avoid fertilizing if the weather forecast calls for a prolonged period of rain.
  2. Don't use fertilizers high in nitrogen when it's blazing hot out, as this will burn your plants.
  3. Don't over fertilize your garden or plants or you may burn them. Don't kill them with kindness as they say.

Now that you have the basic information you can begin penciling in your gardening calendar dates for fertilization. It may get complicated, so if you're new at the game of gardening start with similar plants that require similar fertilizers and fertilization times. Once you've got the hang of it, you'll have no problem building a backyard jungle.

Like to keep notes on what your plants are doing? Click and Print the free Plant Notes Page.

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