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If You Fertilize, Have Your Soil Tested

If you fertilize, please follow these fertilizing tips which apply to all of Hampton Roads.

Have your soil tested for nutrient availability before applying fertilizers. A&L Eastern Laboratories of Richmond is a regionally-respected soil laboratory that is sensitive to water quality issues. For pricing, sampling instructions and other testing services, please visit A&L Eastern Laboratories.

Follow your soil test recommendations for soil amendments. Fertilizers are described by three numbers, such as 12-4-8 or 46-0-0. These three numbers indicate, respectively, the percent by weight of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) in the fertilizer. The test also indicates the acidity (pH) of your soil and whether lime is needed.

Calibrate your spreader annually and sweep any fertilizer off paved areas before it is washed away by rain or irrigation. Measure your turf area to ensure you are using the proper amounts of fertilizer. See the Virginia Cooperative Extension website, listed below, for details on spreader calibration.

Fertilize with 1 to 1.5 lbs N/1000 ft2/year. Use slow release forms of nitrogen. For tall fescue, apply a maximum of one pound of N/1000 ft2 in the fall and ½ lb or less in late spring. For bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass and zoysiagrass apply 1 to 1½ lbs N/1000 ft2/year from April– September.

Do not apply phosphorous (P) unless your soil test results indicate that it is needed. Local soils often contain sufficient phosphorous and it is a major waterway pollutant.

Apply potassium (K) at 1.5 to 3lbs/1000 ft2/year, if indicated on soil test.

Manage weeds, insects, and diseases; don’t allow pests to create bare soil which leads to erosion and sedimentation of our waterways. Be careful to identify pests and consider alternative control measures before applying any pesticides.

Maintain sharp mower blades and never remove more than 25% of turf with any one mowing. Recycle grass clippings by leaving mulched cuttings on your lawn.

A properly managed lawn should not require re-seeding each year.


Virginia Cooperative Extension

Lynnhaven River NOW (757)-962-5398 for information on Rain Gardens, Buffer Gardens, Water-Friendly Gardening, Lawn Care and Rain Barrels

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