Unraveling the Mystery Behind Lawn Fertilizer

Hank Kerfoot - Monday, July 01, 2013

Lawn fertilizer labels can be difficult make any sense out of, which is unfortunate because the wrong fertilizer can damage your lawn.

Unraveling the Mystery Behind Lawn Fertilizer
As a homeowner, making sense of lawn fertilizer labels can be frustrating. But understanding them is easier than you think—you just have to learn the language, so to speak.

There are three main elements that lawn fertilizers are made out of, and each does something different for your lawn. To make this more potentially confusing, the elements are often listed by a single letter. Those three letters are N, P, and K, and they stand for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium.

When you read a fertilizer label, understand that you might see a combination of two of these elements but that you should never see a combination of all three.

One thing to pay attention to is the guarantee of analysis. This represents the grade of fertilizer, and it usually appears like this 30-0-9, or 10-19-0.

What those numbers mean is the percentage of each of the three elements Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. In the first example, 30-0-9, the label would translate into 30% Nitrogen, 0% Phosphorous, and 9% Potassium. In the second example, 10-19-0, the translation would be 10% Nitrogen, 19% Phosphorous, and 0% Potassium. If there is a fourth number, it will represent either Iron (I) or Sulfur (S).

The next consideration is the ratio of the fertilizers. That is usually expressed as 3-2-1 or 3-1-2, and the position of the first, second, and the third number will always represent N-P-K or Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. Understand that this is a ratio and not the contents of the elements.

If you have lawn issues and would like to talk to one of our lawn fertilizer experts, please contact us. We are happy to help you have the best lawn possible.