Since grass relies heavily on nitrogen to stay healthy and green, the chemical is often the first nutrient applied to a lawn. However, before applying hydrogen to your grass, test your soil to verify that it’s, in actuality, nitrogen deficient. If the soil sample indicates nitrogen is necessary, employ one of several effective methods to bring the mineral to your soil. Always follow label directions when using any chemicals, such as fertilizers.
Over-seeding your lawn using Dutch clover (Trifolium repens) is a simple, organic and reliable way of locking nitrogen in your soil. The clover is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Another effective organic strategy — which keeps the grass mixture more traditional looking — would be to employ up to 1/2-inch of finished compost — the kind that looks, smells and feels like rich, dark, crumbly ground — into your lawn, a procedure known as overdressing. Another easy way to help your lawn get the nitrogen it needs would be to leave the grass clippings on the lawn after each mowing; nitrogen is reabsorbed as the clippings decompose. This alone can provide as much as half of the nitrogen a lawn needs.
Weed and Feed
A more common method for introducing nitrogen into the soil is to utilize a commercial weed and feed product. This product operates by employing a pre-emergent herbicide that destroys the weeds, while at the same time adding crucial nutrients like nitrogen and potassium back into your soil. Since weed and feed products are used in early spring before weeds have broken through the dirt, the absorbed nitrogen will provide your lawn an early-season increase.
Nitrogen needs of grass varies considerably based on the species: fescues, generally hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 7, depending on number, often need considerably less hydrogen than perennial ryegrass, hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, while a few warm-season grasses require more of the mineral than cool-season varieties. Because many warm-season grasses tend to be heavy consumers of nitrogen, you are able to apply the mineral on a monthly basis throughout the growing season. Disperse involving .05 to 1.0 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per month (based on number), April through August. For lawns using cool-season grasses, apply .09 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet twice a year.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Care should be taken with any of these methods used to boost nitrogen in the lawn, especially with fertilizers, because too much nitrogen can cause additional issues. Although a fast greening of the grass often occurs with an overabundance of nitrogen, the lawn actually become less strain tolerant as its carbohydrate reserves are more rapidly depleted. This can cause a diminished root system or grass blades which become overly succulent — causing the blades to lose moisture too fast. Excessive nitrogen can also cause thatch accumulation.
Manage With Care
When using chemicals like weed and feed fertilizer or products, care should be taken to closely follow the manufacturer’s education. Safety equipment, like gloves and goggles, could be required. Other factors include applying the chemical when it is not windy, taking care not to pollute waterways or storm sewer systems and keeping young children and pets off the treated area for the manufacturer’s designated time frame. When using weed and feed product, read the caution region to ensure it won’t cause damage to the type of grass on your lawn.