In landscapes, it is essential to choose species that are most suitable to the site. A program of developmental practices that replenishes or sustains soil nutrients and organic matter should also be established. These practices may involve applying organic mulches, including nutrients into soils at the pre-plant stage, and cover cropping. Appropriate maintenance of soil fertility and focus on plant nutritional requirements is essential.
Knowing Plant Nutrition Requirements
Basic plant nutrition includes the intake of sixteen mineral elements important for plant growth. In addition to hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, which are acquired from water and air, the elements nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are needed in the highest abundance. Knowing the proper analysis for your plants, trees, and shrubs is vital to their health and there are many factors that will make the ratios change. As an example, some turf grass types require higher amounts of Nitrogen and will have ratios similar to 24-0-11 and others closer to 16-0-8.
Planning Your Landscape Fertilization
When fertilizing the lawn depends on several things, but the major rule is to fertilize only when active growth is taking place in your lawn.
In South Florida, turfgrass grows throughout the year, while in Central Florida and North Florida, it grows from about March or April until September, October, or November.
The maintenance plan you select also impacts when to fertilize. If you select a higher maintenance plan, you’ll fertilize more times during the growing season. While a basic plan will need fewer applications.
Search for a fertilizer with at the minimum some slow-release nitrogen, which releases the nitrogen to the grass over a prolonged period of time. Ensure that it also has 2% phosphorus or less according to the Florida State Law.
Calculating the Amount
Applying too much fertilizer can damage your lawn and the environment. So how do you evaluate the correct amount to apply?
The first thing you need to determine is how many square feet your lawn covers. Look at your property survey or measure it yourself. Second, what kind of grass do you have and what region are you within the state? All grasses have different fertility requirements depending on where they grow.
Finally, what kind of fertilizer are you planning to use? Search for the three numbers on the bag and note down how much of the nitrogen is in a slow-release form.
Everyone desires a green lawn. However, grasses such as St. Augustine, Centipedes, and Bahia usually turn yellow in the summer. It's not caused by the requirement for water or heat, but by the absence of nitrogen. However, in the summer, fertilization with nitrogen is not always desirable as this usually encourages insect and disease issues.
To achieve a green lawn this summer, consider applying chelated iron or iron sulfate to your lawn instead of a total fertilizer. This will provide you with the dark green color you want without triggering growth. These products come in granular and liquid forms. The result from a supplemental iron application is just temporary (nearly 2–4 weeks), repeat applications are required for summer-long color.
The frequency of application is dependent on the general growth and vigor of the plant, with the exception of newly planted shrubs and trees. Plants developing in rich soils with consistent replenishment of nutrients from the breakdown of organic matter may not require regular fertilizing. However, landscape plants that indicate either abnormal leaf color or size, little or no yearly growth, or vital amounts of dead wood within the plant, must be fertilized yearly.
The best time to apply fertilizer is from late August to September. Roots absorb nutrients very effectively in late summer and stay until soil temperatures reach freezing. The absorbed nitrogen will be stored and turned into forms used to help the spring flush of growth. The next best time to fertilize plants is early spring before the beginning of new growth.
Shrubs and trees must not be fertilized during drought stress or when they are showing an indication of water stress until irrigation is available. Plants do not draw up nutrients without enough water. Some fertilizers may also harm roots if water is absent.