Fertilizer Basics

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Quick Tips

  • Fertilize to provide essential nutrients
  • Well maintained, fertilized lawns are better for the environment
  • Plants need six primary nutrients

Most soils do not provide the essential nutrients required for optimum growth. By fertilizing your lawn and garden, you replenish lost nutrients and ensure plants have the food they need to flourish. Even if you are lucky enough to start with great soil, as your plants grow, they absorb nutrients and leave the soil less fertile.

Well maintained, fertilized lawns are BETTER  for the environment than non-fertilized lawns.

Research by the University of Minnesota demonstrates that properly fertilized lawns have healthy root systems, which do a better job of holding soil in place than the root systems of non-fertilized lawns. An unfertilized lawn loses its density and exposes soil, which leads to erosion and loss of nutrients.

Essential Nutrients

There are six primary nutrients that plants require. Plants get the first three—carbon, hydrogen and oxygen—from air and water. The other three are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  Use the below chart to determine the percentages of these nutrients in a fertilizer.  A 5-2-0 fertilizer like Milorganite is 5% Nitrogen, 2% Phosphorus and 0% Potassium.

For more information on selecting a fertilizer and the differences between organic and synthetic fertilizers view the video below. 

Nutrient Nutrient Properties
Governs overall plant health and growth above-ground.  Accelerates growth and deepens the green color in grasses. Nitrogen should be applied with a balanced hand – too much makes plants grow quicker than their roots can support.
The essential element for strong root development. Plants with proper amounts of Phosphorus are also more resistant to disease and have improved seed production, fruit growth, blooming and flowering.
Potassium plays more of a behind-the-scenes role than Nitrogen or Phosphorous, but still is necessary for optimizing plant health. Potassium improves water retention and disease resistance while protecting plants from cold weather.