Archive for May, 2016

Milorganite and Potassium

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Update (11/15/2018): Milorganite has updated their label and now shows a 6-4-0 N-P-K breakdown. The page I linked to below has also been updated to reflect their new specifications and no longer shows the 0.5% potassium. It is my personal opinion that this potassium is still in the product even though the website doesn’t show it. You can view the version of the specifications page from the time I originally wrote this post by clicking here.

I have heard some people say that Milorganite doesn’t contain potassium (K).  This is simply not true.  There is actually 0.5% potassium!  The reason the N-P-K on the bag reads 5-2-0 is that it gets rounded down to zero.  Because the actual breakdown is 5-2-0.5, that leaves you with 1.8LB of nitrogen, 0.72LB of phosphorus, and 0.18LB of potassium per 36LB bag!

Here is the full breakdown if you are curious:

N-P-K Analysis 5.0% Total Nitrogen (N)
2.0% Available Phosphate (P)
0.0% Potash (K-typically is about 0.5%)
4.0% Iron (Fe)
Typical Micro-nutrients 0.58% Sulfur (S)
0.68% Magnesium (Mg)
0.045% Zinc (Zn)
0.022% Copper (Cu)
0.133% Manganese (Mn)
Trace amounts of Boron (B) and Molybdenum (Mo)

The same information can be found on Milorganite’s website here.


Organic Lawn Fertilizer

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

When some people hear “organic fertilizer”, they might think that it won’t work as well as a chemical fertilizer.  That couldn’t be further from the truth!

The problem with synthetic fertilizers, is that they only feed the grass directly.  They do nothing to improve the soil.  So over time, even though you continue to put down fertilizer, your soil quality continues to degrade.  Eventually, your grass will weaken as a result.  You will find yourself having to spread more fertilizer, and treat more disease in the lawn.  But this can all be alleviated by simply using organic fertilizer!

Which brand you choose doesn’t make much of a difference.  They all share a similar concept, which is to feed the soil.  Organic fertilizer contains the same basic nutrients as synthetic fertilizer, but relies on soil microbes to break it down and release them.  It is this process that improves the soil quality over time.  When there is a healthy ecosystem of life in the soil that is being fed by organic fertilizers, you will find that your grass will grow strong and vigorously, even better than grass fed by synthetic fertilizer!  It will also be more resistant to disease.

I’m not saying that you have to be 100% organic when deciding which lawn care products to use.  Insecticides, herbicides, and even synthetic fertilizers still have their place in lawn care.  I am simply recommending that that you give organic fertilizers a chance to improve your lawn!


Annual Bluegrass (Poa Annua)

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Poa annua can be a frustrating weed to have in your lawn.  It is usually a lighter shade of green than surrounding turfgrass, and isn’t as hardy.  Because it doesn’t stand up well to disease, traffic, or drought, having poa annua present in your lawn often leaves you with brown sickly looking patches.  Even though it can be tough to get rid of, there is hope!

There are two options when trying to eradicate poa annua.  Since it’s an annual, you can use a pre emergent herbicide to prevent it’s seeds from sprouting.  Or you can use a selective herbicide that will kill the poa annua, but leave desirable grasses.  I recommend using both methods for the best control.

If you opt to use the pre emergent, make sure to apply in late summer/early fall.  This is when most of the poa annua seeds will begin to germinate.

If you decide to use a selective herbicide, I recommend Tenacity.  It is safe for use on Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass.  It may take more than one application to kill the poa annua.  Patience is the key.  You are going to want to wait 3-4 weeks between applications.  If your lawn is heavily infested with poa annua, keep in mind that you may need to seed some thin or bald spots after the herbicide treatment.


Best Lawn on the Block

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Want to know the secret to having a beautiful lawn?  Here are a few simple tips!

  • Aerate your lawn every year.  This can be done in either the fall or spring.  Heavily compacted lawns may need to be aerated twice per year.
  • Mow tall.  Northern cool season grasses like to be mowed at 3-4 inches.
  • Mulch your clippings.  This helps to recycle nutrients.  If you mulch your clippings for the whole season, that is the equivalent to applying almost two pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet!  Mulching clippings DOES NOT cause thatch!
  • If your yard is full of weeds, make a blanket application of weed killer using a hose end or hand pump sprayer.  Once the weeds are under control, it is best to use spot treatments and limit herbicide use.  Having a thick, tall, healthy lawn will help to crowd out weeds.
  • If you have grub issues, apply a grub treatment such as Grub-Ex.  Your local extension office should be able to assist you with application timing.
  • Apply a pre emergent herbicide in the spring to prevent crabgrass and other weeds.  Usually the time to apply is when the forsythia are blooming.
  • Apply four applications of Milorganite fertlizer.  For cool season grasses, it is recommended to apply 36 LB per 2,500 square feet around Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.
  • If you want to give your lawn an extra boost, or if it is in especially rough shape, add a spring application of Ringer Lawn Restore fertilizer to your schedule in addition to the Milorganite.

By using these tips, your lawn will be looking great before you know it!