The Connection Between Lawn Fertilization & Grass Growth Rate

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For homeowners in Kansas City, having a lush and healthy lawn is important, but achieving this goal isn’t always easy. It takes knowledge of the right type of grass for your climate, regular maintenance practices, and an understanding of how fertilizers can affect grass growth rate. In this article, we will cover these topics to help you create the perfect lawn! Keep reading for tips on proper lawn fertilization and to attain a better understanding of the connection between fertilizers and lawn growth!

Healthy Grass Growth

The importance of mowing your grass to the proper height

To determine whether your grass is growing at a healthy rate, you must first look at the climate in which you live and the type of grass in your lawn. There are cool-season grass types and warm-season grass types that perform best when they are seeded in the proper climate. In the cooler northern states, cool-season grasses perform better and often grow a bit taller at a healthy rate. On the other hand, warm-season grasses thrive in sunlight and heat and tend to perform best when they are maintained at shorter heights.

Fertilization plays a huge role in maintaining proper grass height. Without the use of fertilizers, your lawn will have a harder time reaching a healthy height without stressing out the grass too much. Here in Kansas, our weather patterns can be sporadic, so homeowners across the state utilize a variety of different grass types. Below is a chart of the optimal heights for each grass type in our area:

Cool-Season Grasses

  • Perennial Ryegrass: 1.5 - 2.5
  • Kentucky Bluegrass: 2 - 2.5
  • Fine Fescue: 2 - 2.5
  • Tall Fescue: 2 - 3

Warm-Season Grasses

  • Bermudagrass: 1 - 1.5
  • Zoysia: 1 - 1.5
  • Buffalograss: 2 - 3 inches
  • St. Augustine: 2.5 - 3

How Fast Does Grass Grow?

Close up photo of grass with a blurred background

Applying fertilizer to your lawn makes all the difference between fast and slow grass growth rates. The soil has to consist of certain qualities for grass to truly thrive and perform at its optimal level, and this is where fertilization comes in. If soil is lacking resources, the grass in your lawn will not be able to absorb the necessary nutrients to grow tall and lush at a healthy rate. With proper fertilization, however, your grass will grow at the rates to be expected of healthy lawns!

In well-fertilized soil, most grass species will begin emerging within only 8-10 days after seeding. In a single day, healthy grass can grow a maximum of around 1/5 of an inch. In a week, well maintained grass grows roughly 1 inch if the soil meets ideal conditions. Improper fertilization can lead to grass growing too quickly or too slowly, which will have negative consequences for your lawn, so any growth that is well outside of these ranges means some adjustments need to be made.

How Fertilizers Accelerate Growth

granular fertilizer in lawn (2)

The main components in lawn fertilizers are the elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Each element plays a crucial role in the development of healthy grass blades, but nitrogen is arguably the most important of all 3, and it is the element responsible for the rate at which your grass grows. In the right amount, nitrogen speeds up growth and gives your lawn a lush green color. It is vital to properly apply fertilizer because too much or too little can have an adverse effect on how quickly your grass grows. Too little fertilizer will lead to slow and stunted grass growth, while too much can cause overgrowth that can be damaging to the long-term health of your lawn.

Nitrogen helps grass grow by aiding in the production of chlorophyll. Many people associate chlorophyll with the rich green color of a well maintained lawn, but chlorophyll is also vital to the rate of growth your lawn experiences. Chlorophyll is a chemical that promotes more active photosynthesis of the grass in your lawn, which is how grass absorbs sunlight in order to grow strong and tall. More nitrogen in a lawn means more chlorophyll being produced, which means more energy for grass to grow and thrive.

Phosphorus, potassium, and an assortment of other nutrients in fertilizers also help grass grow by forming more resilient grass that can withstand harmful environmental factors like cold weather and pests. In particular, phosphorus helps roots grow stronger and deeper into the soil, and deeper roots will always lead to taller and quicker grass growth.

Can Fertilizers Harm Grass Growth?

Fertilizers can, and often do, have negative effects on grass growth rates when they are improperly applied. Overfertilization is one of the most common issues that homeowners face with their lawns, and it can lead to a variety of problems, such as wilting grass blades, yellowing leaves, and poor root development. Overfertilizing frequently causes weeds to develop, which will result in less nutrients being available for your grass. Additionally, nitrogen in fertilizer can cause a rapid growth spurt that will ultimately exhaust the grass and lead to weaker roots over time.

It’s also important to note that some types of fertilizers are designed to give a quick boost without providing any long-term effects on grass growth rates. These types of fertilizers should only be used sparingly for special occasions or when trying to get your lawn back into shape quickly. If you are just starting to grow your lawn for the first time in the season, or if your lawn has been struggling to grow for a while, nitrogen-heavy fertilizers can be helpful, but you still have to make sure you are following guidelines and not applying more than necessary.

When To Apply Fertilizer For Optimal Grass Growth

The soil in which your lawn grows naturally contains the same macronutrients that are present in fertilizers. Throughout the year, given proper amounts of rainfall and sunlight exposure, nitrogen and other elements can be found in the soil at higher levels than at other times of the year. This is why it is so important to pay attention to when and how you are fertilizing your lawn. If there is too much naturally occurring nitrogen in the soil, adding too much fertilizer could result in fertilizer burn that leaves dead-looking patches all across your lawn.

Fertilizers can be applied at any time throughout the year, but applying higher amounts of nitrogen is most beneficial in early spring and fall. Spring and starter fertilizers are designed to give your lawn a boost to get going after dormancy, and fertilizing in fall allows your grass to store nutrients before winter. Summer fertilizers will have a lower amount of nitrogen to prevent fertilizer burn when the soil is already fertile. Luckily, the packaging of the fertilizer product will let you know which to use at different times of the year, so be sure to pay attention to labels and guidelines.

Call Heartland For Healthy Grass Growth In Kansas City!

Heartland Turf and Landscape trucks 2

To be absolutely sure your lawn gets the right amount of fertilizer for the healthiest grass growth possible, call a professional lawn care service like Heartland Turf & Landscape! Pros like us know exactly what your lawn needs, and we always help ensure that your grass grows at the healthiest rate every season! Consult with a professional lawn care company near you for more tips and information on how to get your grass growing!