Published on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What exactly is fertilizer and why do plants/turf need it?

In order for plants (including turf) to grow and thrive, a number of different chemical elements are needed. The most important of these are:
Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen – these are available from air and water and therefore are in plentful supply
Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (potash) – These three macronutrients are the three elements found in packaged fertilizer
Sulfur, calcium, and magnesium – these are secondary nutrients
Boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese,molybdennum and Zinc – These are micronutrients available in the soil

The most important of these, the ones that are needed by plants and turfgrass, are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Without these elements a plant simply cannot grow because it cannot make the "pieces" it needs. It would be like a carpentry crew running out of nails or a Masonary crew running out of concrete.
The numbers on a bag of fertilizer show the percentages of available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (i.e.10-10-10 equals 10% nitrogen/10% phosphorus/10% potassium. The remaining 70% is considered ballast and has no value to the plants).

If any of these macronutrients are missing or hard to obtain from the soil, growth rate for the plant/turfgrass is limited. In nature, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium often come from the decay of plants that have died. Often, in the case of nitrogen, the recycling of dead to living plants is often the ONLY source of nitrogen in the soil.Because we keep our lawns and planting beds clean and manicured we do not allow this decay process happen. As a result, we need to provide turf and ornamental plantings these essential macronutrients (especially nitrogen) in another, more readily available form... Fertilizer. Most fertilizers provide just nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. This is because the other nutrients needed are in very low quantities and usually readily available in the soil.

Obviously, there's a little more to it but these are the nuts and bolts of fertilizer. Pesticide application (YES....weeds are technically considered pests!) Is a whole different situation. The state of Illinois requires a license to commercially apply pesticides and, while it is legal for homeowners to apply certain chemicals on their own properties, it is best to have a trained professional take care of this project for you. Doing so will significantly decrease the chances for error with under/over application as well as the many dangers that are inherent in handling and storing these chemicals.

BSC/Kramer group employs technicians for the application of fertilizer and pesticides that are licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and have trained in specific categories that relate to your type of property. Specifically; turfgrass, ornamental plantings and right-of-way areas. Our trained technicians are able to perform their duties in such a way that is effective while being safe for the public, pets and environment. We are also able to proactively "scout" for potential problems to report back to you.

Please, give us a call. We would love to provide you a quote tailored to your specific property and its needs. Below, we offer this example of a five step program that is frequently used by our residential customers...

Application #1 – Properly balanced/time released fertilizer with a pre-emergent weed control will be in applied in early spring  to promote spring green up and control unwanted annual grasses and broadleaf weeds from germinating.
Application #2 – Properly balanced/time released fertilizer will be applied in late spring to improve color and density
Application #3 – Properly balanced/time released fertilizer with broadleaf weed control (blanket spray) will be applied in early to mid summer to kill off germinated weeds, improve color and density and prepare for summer stress
Application #4 – Properly balanced/time released fertilizer with broadleaf weed control (blanket spray if necessary) will be applied in early fall to control weeds and improve color and density.
Application #5 – Properly balanced/time released fertilizer will be applied in late fall to provide macronutrients for turf grass to "over winter".
Spot applications – Broadleaf weed control will be applied to turf areas as necessary throughout the maintenance season to control specific weeds as necessary.

Call Us Today
This mild winter season is sure to kick summer growth off early this spring. Fertilization and weed control is essential to a healthy lawn





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Author: Scott Boyd

Categories: BSC Kramer Blog


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