Getting that golf course look at home can be complicated, if you need to fertilize your lawn can you add lawn food? What is the difference?
Fertilizers feed the soil and primarily contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Lawn food is a marketing term used by some companies to describe fertilizer products. Lawn food should be evaluated in the same way as fertilizers when choosing the best products for your lawn.
Generally, lawns thrive on nitrogen-rich soil and many gardeners apply fertilizers annually to improve the look of grass and to extend the green season.
Lawn Food is generally a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen as that is the preferred ratio for lawn growth, but there is no standard NPK ratio for a product to be called Lawn Food.
Be sure to read the packaging of any products you purchase and use them according to the package recommendations.
As a general rule, fertilizing should be done in Spring and Fall when the temperatures rise to about 50-60 degrees.
Fertilizing should follow the recommendations that align with your grass type and your climate.
Is Lawn Food Fertilizer?
Lawn food is a marketing term used to describe fertilizer products that contain more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium.
These products are designed to promote the healthy growth of grass. It does this using a combination of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. This is abbreviated as NPK.
Nitrogen in Lawn Food is generally quick-release nitrogen, most commonly urea nitrogen. This fertilizer must be applied each year as they release quickly and need to be reapplied.
Scott and Miracle Grow both have products marketed as lawn food.
Scott has a granular product called Turf Builder. Turf Builder has an NPK ratio of 32-0-4. The high nitrogen makes this a good spring fertilizer for a green lawn.
Miracle Grow has a liquid application product called Lawn Food which has an NPK ratio of 24-8-16. The product is a little gentler than Turf Builder which makes it a good fertilizer to start to wake up the grass.
If you over-apply nitrogen it can cause the grass to grow very quickly making it necessary to mow very frequently.
While lawn food is a marketing term, plant food is an entirely different thing. Plant food is the food plants produce through photosynthesis. Plant food is the result of plants using sunlight and water to sustain their own growth.
How to Select a Lawn Fertilizer
The best way to determine your lawn’s needs is to do a soil test. The test will tell you the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium concentrations in the soil. This can tell you what your soil needs.
You can choose a simple soil test kit online or send a soil sample for more thorough data on the major and trace nutrients in your soil.
Even with healthy grass and an established lawn regular fertilization with nitrogen-rich fertilizer can extend the length of your green grass season.
Consider your schedule, when you apply nitrogen fertilizer your grass will grow more quickly. You may need to mow as often as every three days, if this is not possible for you, consider using slower-release nitrogen.
Nitrogen fertilizers can contain many types of nitrogen, but most commonly urea. Urea is quick-release nitrogen that is very affordable. It is often applied in spring and fall each year.
Slow-release fertilizers can help sustain a healthy lawn that does not need constant mowing. Overapplication of quick-release nitrogen can make your lawn grow faster than convenient for the gardener.
Talk to neighbors who have green lawns and see if they can tell you when they are fertilizing their lawns.
When to Use Lawn Food
Lawn food is a marketing term that can be used to describe a variety of products.
There are some general guidelines, but you should read the package instructions thoroughly before applying them to your lawn.
When to Use Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food
Scott’s is a granular product that must be applied with a spreader. Depending on your type of spreader, refer to the package to select the correct setting.
Walk back and forth across your lawn to spread the lawn food evenly across the grass.
Apply this product when the temperature reaches 50-70 degrees consistently during the day. The plants should be beginning to grow.
Be sure to use this product when no rain is expected for 24 hours.
When to Use Miracle Gro Lawn Food
Miracle-Gro Lawn Food is a granular product that is mixed with water and applied with a sprayer. It can be used with any garden sprayer or the Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder hose attachment to add nitrogen to your lawn.
The product is designed to be applied every 2-3 weeks during the spring and summer.
This product is a nitrogen rich fertilizer
When to Use Simple Lawn Solutions
Simple Lawn Solutions Lawn Food is a more balanced liquid fertilizer. It has an NPK ratio of 16-4-8 making it a bit less harsh than the other lawn food fertilizers that I have seen.
It is very convenient as it comes ready to apply with a built in sprayer.
It should be applied every two weeks during the grass growing season. It is designed to be used in Spring and Summer.
What is the Difference Between Nutrients and Fertilizer?
When feeding your lawn you can use quick-release fertilizers that produce quick results. Fertilizers generally contain mainly nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nutrients on the other hand are found in the soil in smaller quantities and may come from organic materials or soil amendments.
When gardeners talk about soil nutrients they are generally talking about things like calcium, sodium, sulfur, copper, zinc, and manganese. These nutrients are included in a good soil test but are not contained in most commercial fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers like bone meal, fish emulsion, blood meal, potash, manure, compost, and other organic soil amendments break down slowly and feed the soil over time.
The compounds in commercial fertilizers, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, are commonly referred to as soil nutrients as well.
Is Weed and Feed the Same as Fertilizer?
Weed and Feed is a marketing term used to describe nitrogen-rich fertilizers that contain herbicides that kill weeds and prevent the germination of weed seeds when applied properly.
Weed and Feed does contain fertilizers, mostly a high level of quick-release nitrogen which should be applied in early spring.
The high nitrogen content is not optimal for early spring application, but the herbicides in the product need to be applied before the weed seeds germinate.
These products can be applied in late fall to give your lawn a bit of a boost to extend the green season and prevent fall weeds from establishing.
Plant Food vs. Lawn Food
While lawn food is a marketing term to describe high nitrogen fertilizers designed for use on lawns, plant food is the nutrients plants produce from sunlight through photosynthesis.
Plant food is a product of normal plant growth while lawn food is fertilizer that is commercially produced and added to soil to be used by plants.
Lawn Food Vs. Fertilizer
When choosing a product to improve the health of your lawn you should look at the NPK ratio of the product and compare it with the results you are hoping to achieve.
Lawn food can be a good product to use when you are doing a normal spring fertilizing, but it will not be the most cost effective way to add nitrogen to your lawn.
You generally need to add about a quarter to a full pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet when fertilizing their lawns.
Choosing a formulation that matches your needs and goals will give you the best results. Lawn Food is a more generic one-size-fits-all mixture that may not give you the desired results.
Urea Nitrogen fertilizer is very affordable and readily available on Amazon and home improvement stores. This is a quick release of nitrogen, but a little goes a long way.
Urea nitrogen is very affordable so it is often the type of nitrogen used in lawn food products, this is very quick-release nitrogen and will cause rapid grass growth.
Choosing a product with slow-release nitrogen like this Ecoscraps slow-release fertilizer will give you a more even lawn growth and will not require reapplication as quickly.
A well established lawn with healthy soil may need no fertilizing whatsoever. Regular watering is enough to keep the grass green in many conditions.