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 Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Your Lawn

Phosphorous is an important plant nutrient, and it’s present in most common fertilizers that are sold.  This bag has an analysis of 10-10-10.  Nitrogen is the first number, phosphorous is the second number, and potassium is the third number.  So, this bag contains an analysis of 10% phosphorous.
The problem with phosphorous is that it binds very tightly to soil particles, and doesn’t leech through the soil very quickly.  This means that phosphorous can actually build up in the soil to excessive levels very easily.
Excessive phosphorous levels in the soil is a cause for concern when there are large areas of erosion and run-off – especially in watersheds and waterways.  In Kansas soils, we often find that phosphorous exists in abundance, so it’s becoming very important for homeowners to consider phosphorous is needed in their soil.
For homeowners it’s important to have a soil test done every two to three years to keep tabs on the amount of phosphorous in your soil.  It’s a myth that you need a lot of phosphorous to grow great flowers and to grow big plants.  Phosphorous does play an important part.  However, new research has shown that nitrogen is a more important nutrient to consider when you fertilize.
This simply means that when homeowners go to shop for fertilizers, it’s important to look for fertilizers that contain no or low levels of phosphorous.  This fertilizer here is an example of an excellent fertilizer for most common home uses.  The nitrogen number is a lot larger than the other two numbers.  Typically when you shop for fertilizer, that’s what you need to look for.  If you’ve got that, you have a pretty safe bet that this fertilizer will work well in your soil.
This feature story prepared with Jason Graves, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent for Central Kansas Extension District. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.