You know that you need the right mix of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. And when you’re young, they help you grow to be strong. The same is true for your lawn.
The three major nutrients that your lawn needs to stay green and healthy are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
When you buy fertilizer, you’ll see these three nutrients, commonly referred to as macronutrients, represented as a 3-part number called the NPK ratio. For example, a fertilizer that has 29-2-4 on the label will have 29 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorus, and 4 percent potassium.
Don’t overlook that last number. Potassium is essential for growing and maintaining a lush, green lawn.
Here’s what you need to know about this macronutrient.
What is Potassium?
Potassium, sometimes called potash, is an essential nutrient for your lawn. It helps your grass take in other nutrients and use them. It also aids in building strong cell walls within the plant.
Those cell walls are what keep your grass healthy and resilient in times of stress like drought, severe temperatures, or even disease.
As your lawn grows, potassium is a catalyst for that growth. It helps the grass put down strong, deep roots. A lawn that is lacking in potassium may grow slowly and have shallower roots, which means it won’t be able to withstand environmental stresses as well as it should.
How to Tell if Your Lawn Has Enough Potassium
There are a few tell-tale signs to look for when you’re trying to decide if your soil has enough potassium. Turf that is potassium deficient can show signs of stress like yellowing, slow growth, or being highly susceptible to changes in temperature.
The only real way to know if your lawn is potassium deficient is to test the soil.
You can find do-it-yourself kits at many lawn care shops or box stores, but if you really want to get to the heart of what’s feeding your lawn, get a professional analysis of your soil. A professional analysis will let you know about your potassium levels as well as all of the other nutrients you need for a healthy lawn.
Keep an eye on your soil pH levels when you get those results. Low pH means higher acidity in the soil which makes it more difficult for your grass to absorb the potassium it needs.
What is the Best Way to Add Potassium?
If your soil test proves that your lawn is lacking the potassium it needs to reach its full potential, the good news is that it’s easy to get it back on track.
Follow these few simple steps and your lawn will be growing strong again in no time.
Pick the Right Fertilizer and the Right Time of Year
As we mentioned earlier, fertilizers come with an NPK ratio. If your soil analysis shows that your lawn is doing just fine in the nitrogen and phosphorus categories, look for a fertilizer with higher levels of potassium.
Fertilizers that are labeled as “winterizers” are typically high in potassium. These fertilizers are meant to boost your lawn’s potassium before the cold weather sets in.
Because potassium helps to strengthen the plant’s roots and cell walls while also helping it absorb and break down other nutrients that it needs, potassium helps your grass survive harsh conditions when it is applied in the fall.
Our 0-0-29 Liquid Fertilizer is a great choice for getting your lawn ready for winter and dormancy.
Though they are labeled for fall application, potassium-rich fertilizers are also a great option in the spring to give your lawn a strengthening boost before the summer heat.
Apply the Fertilizer Properly
Misapplication of fertilizer is one of the biggest reasons that potassium and other chemicals run off of lawns and end up in other water supplies. Follow the directions on your fertilizer container carefully.
While potassium is not a known pollutant, your fertilizer does have other ingredients that can be harmful to groundwater and the environment. Be smart about how you apply it to your lawn.
Compost – Compost is natural and naturally rich in nutrients, including potassium. If you want to give your compost a potassium boost, toss in some banana peels or other fruit remains.
Hardwood Ash – Ashes from burned hardwoods are rich in potassium. You can use this directly or add it to your compost.
Kelp Meal – You can find this in liquid or solid form. Kelp meal offers a great, natural source of quick-release potassium.
Sulfate of Potash (Potassium Sulfate) – Available in stores, this is a safe and natural source of potassium. Look for organic certification on the labeling as not all potash is organic.
Whichever potash source you choose, make sure that your lawn is getting enough of the nutrients to properly defend itself against the weather and disease.
Potassium is essential to keeping your lawn healthy and green. Applied in the spring and in the fall, you should have turf that’s strong enough to handle almost anything.