Nitrogen is one of the most important and highly recommended nutrients for a healthy and vibrant lawn. However, settling on a specific nitrogen fertilizer can be a bit of a hustle, due to the wide variety of options in the market. It is important to choose the best way to add Nitrogen to your lawn, ensuring that you get the most cost effective yet beneficial options for your plants and the environment.
The first step to knowing how to add nitrogen to your lawn is identifying whether there is a nitrogen deficiency. This will help you decide on the concentration of Nitrogen you would require and help you make the choice between fast and slow acting Nitrogen sources. Some of the signs of Nitrogen deficiency in your lawn include;
- Recurring disease in the grass
- Increased weed growth in the lawn
- Patches of dead grass
- Patches of yellow grass
- Thinning of the lawn
Sources of Nitrogen fertilizer
The available sources of Nitrogen fertilizer can be broadly categorized in two; organic and inorganic. Each source has its benefits and downsides, so the decision as to which is superior is best determined by the potential user, keeping their conditions and requirements in mind.
Organic Nitrogen fertilizers
These are primarily plant based Nitrogen sources like plant and animal manure. They take a longer time to take effect on the plants compared to inorganic Nitrogen sources, but compensate for this with their eco friendliness and affordability. Despite being slow acting, their residual effects are shown to be long lasting, spanning years, without negatively impacting the environment. It is advisable to use an organic nitrogen fertilizer during warm weather. This is because the organisms that are present in the soil, which could be dormant or slow acting in cooler seasons, break down the organic material in order to release a combination of Nitrogen and other organic nutrients to the soil.
- Compost manure
- Bio solids (for example sewage sludge)
- Compost organic matter (for example left over food)
- Feather meal
- Blood meal
- Green manure
- Improvement of soil property
- Lasting soil warming
- They are often cheap and easy to source in a farm
- No pH level or burn effects on the plants and soil
- Using Organic Nitrogen helps get rid of waste
- Unwanted seeds and salts could be introduced to the lawn
- They take a long time to take effect (a couple of weeks)
Inorganic Nitrogen Fertilizers
These are manufactured or synthesized Nitrogen sources. They are bought from shops and should be used in the way and moderation that is dictated on their packaging or as advised by the seller. These are sources of soluble nitrogen is released rapidly into the soil and is often found at a low cost. These fertilizers are commonly used because they show results almost immediately and are suitable for use in most weather and soil conditions. The major precaution when using such fertilizers would be to ensure there is no excessive use because they are notorious for burning soil and grass when applied in excess or without sufficient dilution.
- Ammonium nitrates
- Potassium nitrates
- Calcium nitrates
- Ammonium sulphates
- They are fast acting and show quick results
- They are cost effective
- They are effective in a wide range of conditions (soil and temperature)
- Their effects are short lived
- They require frequent repeat applications
- They can have burn and other acidifying effects on the plants and soil
What should you consider when adding Nitrogen to your Lawn?
The condition of soil during the application of any fertilizer is an important factor to consider as it directly affects the effectiveness of said fertilizer. For Nitrogen based fertilizers in particular, the soil needs to be well drained and aerated. This is because the nitrogen from the fertilizer will not enter the grass roots if the soil is too dry or wet, neither will it be able to do this if it is poorly aerated and compact. This is because the effectiveness of Nitrogen as a fertilizer is based on its ability to nourish the turf of a plant, which is deep in the soil.
The ideal temperature conditions when applying a Nitrogen fertilizer would between freezing and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because if the temperature is too low, then the Nitrogen would freeze and become slow moving in the soil, which would hinder its ability to get to the roots of the plants or be absorbed for healthy growth. If the temperature is too high, the Nitrogen would either evaporate, and waste into the environment, or become too soluble, therefore seeping through the soil at a faster rate than the roots can absorb it and most of it would go to waste.
Different Nitrogen based fertilizers are suitable at different stages of planting, to give the bets results. An Ammonium Phosphate Sulphate fertilizer would be best suited for ue during land preparation, before planting the grass on your lawn. This is because it prepares the soil and gives your seedlings the optimum nitrogen conditions for germination and growth. On the other hand, an Ammonium or Calcium Nitrate fertilizer would work best on an established lawn during cold seasons, showing immediate results.
Additional tips on applying Nitrogen to your lawn
- Use slow release (organic) Nitrogen if possible. This is because it gives a steady slow supply of the plant nutrient over a long period of time.
- Use soluble nitrogen preferably in the form of a foliar spray because it makes it easier for the plant turf to use it
What are the benefits of adding Nitrogen to your lawn?
- Healthy grass stands
- Increased plant growth rate
- Improved colouring of plant leaves and flowers.
Nitrogen is a key component of plant development, making it essential to the growth of a healthy and luscious lawn. It would be important for a person who is looking to grow or maintain a lawn to go through their options for Nitrogen sources, even before noticing the signs of deficiency in their lawn. This would give them ample time to start on organic nitrogen sources that are more eco-friendly as opposed to the rush which would only be remedied by the fast acting inorganic nitrogen sources.