Top 5 Reasons Why Your Fertilizer Isn’t Performing Like You Think It Should

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At Red Hen Turf Farm, we carry Spyker Spreaders, which are designed to outperform and built to outlast the competition. Image Source: Spyker.com

1. Quality.
To save money, the big mass merchandisers have diluted their products so much they no longer deliver the essential nutrients grass plants in the Michiana area need. Because of these watered down “programs”, we have been getting more and more calls about lawn programs that can be traced back to these insufficient products.  At Red Hen Turf Farm, we believe we can offer customers better fertilizing products at better prices than they are paying at big box stores.

2. Over-Measuring or Under-Measuring the Area of Your Lawn.
So, your fertilizer bag label or your soil test results tell you to apply a certain amount of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet and you’re confused about what to do next. The questions run through your head … “How large is 1,000 square feet? How much fertilizer do I need to buy? How do I know if my spreader is putting on the correct amount?”  The first step is to determine the area or square footage of your lawn or garden space. You could use good old-fashioned math problems to calculate the area(REMEMBER GEOMETRY CLASS?), or you could use Red Hen’s Sod Calculator via our website – but that would mean you’d have to take some measurements.  Even easier, and probably “accurate enough” is a website called FindLotSize.com.  Simply type in your address, find your lawn on the map, and click around the edges and FindLotSize.com calculates the area for you.  It probably won’t be 100% accurate, but we’ve been using this tool for a few months and are pleased with how close it usually is.

3. Spreader Calibration.
So, back to the question of “How do I know if my spreader is putting on the correct amount?”  There are so many brands of spreaders, and each one seems to have it’s own settings.  You could try checking the website of the company that manufactured your spreader for the right spreader settings. But even then, how do you really know if the settings are accurate?  Spreaders must be properly calibrated if they are to deliver granular fertilizers and pesticides to turf at correct rates. As spreaders become older and worn, re-calibration ensures you obtain the best results.  Visit Red Hen’s PDF Library and read our whitepaper, “Fertilizer Tips & How to Calibrate that Darn Spreader” to learn more.

4. Soil Testing
You should only apply the nutrients that your lawn needs, but how do you really KNOW what nutrients your lawn needs?  The answers are in the chemistry of the soil, and every lawn has a unique chemical history.  The only way to really know what nutrients your lawn needs is by SOIL TESTING. A soil test of your lawn is a key step, especially if you are particular about your lawn or have grass problems. We recommend that you do a soil test every 3 years.  If you use our soil testing procedures, we’ll provide you with a kit that you’ll mail to a certified lab.  The postage and payment to the lab will end up costing you under $15 for a single sample. The results are sent to us and we will translate them into layman’s terms, using this information as an important piece of the puzzle for us to create a Customized Fertilizer Program, designed just for you.  Once we’ve designed your fertilizer program, we can even give you reminders by phone or email for when it’s time for your next application.

5. Timing.
In many different ways, TIMING plays an important role when fertilizing you lawn.  For some fertilizer products, the instructions tell you to apply on dry grass – so if rain is in the forecast, timing could be especially critical.  Some products may even instruct you to water-in the fertilizer, so timing your application around rain could save you from having to use your sprinkler.  Fertilizers with added Herbicides or Pesticides work when applied around a specific point in the life cycle of the pest you are trying to eliminate – so again TIMING is important.  For example, you can read our Blog to learn more about how time is of the essence when it comes to treating potential white grub infestations.  Timing is also important when it comes to the seasonal life-cycle of your grass since you want to fertilize when the roots are actively growing (which is NOT year-round).

NEED SOME ADVICE?
Give us a call today – 574-232-6811

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How Easy is it to Care for Newly Laid Sod?

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You need a healthy balance of WATER,SUNLIGHT, and AIR, to help your sod take root after within weeks, depending partly on your initial soil preparation and sod installation.

Since you have limited control overSUNLIGHT and AIR, the key to success relies heavily on WATER.  The roots of your new sod will penetrate the soil faster and root down sooner if properly watered.  Only 2-3 weeks may be necessary for initial sod rooting, but the roots will still be relatively shallow. Full root establishment typically takes about 4-6 weeks.

Common questions we get are when? and how much?  Usually, there are two main ways to kill new sod … by watering too much, or watering too little.

Here’s how to ensure that your new sod has the right amount of water.

First day watering.
Your sod should be soaked with water as soon as it is laid. Water each zone or section as soon as it is laid!

How do you check to make sure you have watered it enough?

You could check by walking on it. If you make deep footprints, it has enough water.

Another way – if the soil is firm – is to lift a few different corner of the sod to inspect. The soil on the back of the sod should be damp to wet. If it is not damp – and if the ground is still dry underneath – water for at least 30 minutes.

Second through fifth day watering. 
Check your lawn at least one time per day, or more than once if it is hot or windy. Walk on the new lawn to inspect it. If the soil is soft and you make deep footprints, or water has puddle in areas, it is too wet and you should stop watering for awhile, and water less often with less water. If the soil is firm, lift a corner of the sod in several places. The soil should be damp, not  dripping wet, or dusty dry.

Watch the color of the sod.

Green is good.

Blue-green indicates not enough water, and you will have problems in 12-24 hours.

Yellow-tan means the sod is heat/moisture stressed and will go dormant. The roots and crowns are still alive and if you water more, new leaves will appear in seven to ten days.

Cracks that appear between the rolls indicates not enough water has been applied and you should water longer or more often.

Temperatures above 80 degrees F generally mean more water is needed and below 60 degrees F means less water is needed.

In the cooler months of March, April, October, and November, sod needs much less water.

Further watering.
After five days or so, the soil has soaked up water like a sponge, and you must reduce your watering habits or you will drown the new roots.

Roots will not grow into waterlogged soils!  Begin stretching out the time between the watering. Reset your timer if you have an automatic system.

New Sod Watering Tips near Sidewalks and Driveways.
Pay close attention around paved areas!
A LOT of heat will transfers from paved surfaces and will dry out nearby new sod much faster than the rest of the new yard.

LEARN MORE
Read our “Early and Longterm Sod Care Instructions” and much, much more by visiting Red Hen Turf Farm’s PDF LIbrary.

Or give us a call today – 574-232-6811

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