Balanced and Complete Fertility: How Important Is It?

balanced lawncare turf up close

How vital is balanced and complete fertility when it comes to turfgrass plants? There’s nothing more important. Balanced fertility is how we build plant health, control growth, help the plant increase density and maintain proper levels of nutrients in the soil and the plant. It also has a significant impact on helping the plant maintain the protective compounds that it builds.

Plant nutrition is a lot like human nutrition. Most of us enjoy eating pizza, burgers, chicken wings, and french fries. Yet, if that’s all we eat day after day, at some point, we might end up feeling bad. However, if we eat a complete nutritional diet (and partake in a bit of exercise), we’re more likely to end up being healthy and happy.

Similarly, suppose we feed our lawns a significant amount of nitrogen, considered the junk food of the turf world. In that case, we can’t be surprised if our properties eventually end up looking bad, especially during high-stress periods. The closer we can get to ensure the plants obtain a full range of nutrients, the greater the chance our lawns will look happy, healthy, green, dense, and strong.

The bottom line to achieving a healthy plant here is to avoid applying too much nitrogen. The plant will respond with a quick green-up. However, it’s not too different than giving a seven-year-old a handful of candy. He’ll be happy for a while, but he’ll be a cranky handful when the sugar buzz wears off.

What happens exactly when you rely too much on nitrogen? Most often, you’ll cause too much top growth, which causes many problems within the turfgrass system. For example, the plant will burn a lot of carbohydrate reserves that it usually uses to build roots. The plant’s leaves also become diluted with excessive shoot growth and marginal nutrient levels.

But that’s not all. Antioxidants and osmolytes, the compounds that protect the plant, become diluted. The dilution creates a compromised plant with more weed, disease, and insect problems. If all this happens, you will need to bring the big guns out in the way of fungicides and insecticides to protect the plant.

The reality is balanced nutrition is critical to producing healthy turfgrass. While using a lot of nitrogen might seem like a good idea at the time, it might cause significant issues down the road.

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About the Author Curt Geron

I am a Foliar-Pak territory manager and the lead for Foliar-Pak product development. I’ve been with EnP Investments, the manufacturer of Foliar-Pak, for almost nine years. In addition to my responsibilities at EnP, I’ve worked as golf course superintendent and owner/operator of a lawn care company. With B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agronomy from The Ohio State University, I developed a passion for plant science and fertility. If you would like to learn more about the science behind our products or discuss practical applications for using our products to improve turfgrass and plant health, let’s connect.

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