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For fertilizer application, quantity and timing are important

POSTED: April 11, 2014 1:00 a.m.

When it comes to common questions asked at the office, the one I have most often is about lawns and when to fertilize them.

The answer is specific to your lawn type, because each type requires something a little bit different.

The best way to know what your lawn needs is to pull a representative soil sample from your lawn using a trowel or soil probe.

Taking small samples from many places will give you a good average of the nutrients in the soil. The results you get will tell you exactly how and when to fertilize your lawn.

Soil sampling is recommended because it is a sure fire way to know what you need. Plus, you will get more information about how to fertilize your lawn for phosphorus and potassium.

Without a soil test giving you specific results, these general guidelines can be used.

Generally recommended pH ranges for lawns depend on the type of grass. The following pH ranges are:

* Centipede — 5.0 to 6.0.

* St. Augustine — 5.5 to 6.5

* Bermuda — 5.5 to 6.5

* Tall fescue — 5.5 to 6.5

* Zoysia — 6.0 to 7.0.

Nitrogen also is required for leaf and root production to maintain a green and healthy turf. Nitrogen amounts per 1,000 square foot annually for grass are:

* Centipede — 1 to 2 pounds

* Zoysia — 2 to 3 pounds

* Bermuda — 2 to 4 pounds

* St. Augustine — 2 to 4 pounds

* Tall fescue — 2 to 4 pounds

Applying fertilizer at a good time is just as important as to how much. The basic rule of thumb is to apply fertilizer when the grass is actively growing.

For tall fescue that is in the fall and spring. For warm season grasses such as Bermuda or zoysia, it is in the summer. Once the soil temperatures is 65 degrees or higher, begin fertilizing the warm season grasses.

To check soil temperatures, visit www.georgiaweather.net.

It is best to apply a fertilizer multiple times in a growing season rather than at one time.

So for Bermuda grass, that would be applying 1 pound of nitrogen three to four times during the summer. This will allow the grass to use most of the nitrogen you apply, and it will prevent excess nitrogen being leached below the root zone.

If you have questions, visit www.georgiaturf.com for more information about turfgrass management.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.


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