Spring is here, which means it is time to help your turf recover from winter frost and prepare for the heat of the summer. This is an optimal time to fertilize, manage weeds and start developing healthy soil to ward off summer pests and disease.
Horizon is here to offer some strategies and tips to maximize your spring program. Our Landscape Expert, Nick diLorenzo, will offer some of his best practices and favorite resources and blogs.
WHICH FERTILIZER SHOULD I APPLY?
Many large fertilizer manufacturers want to make you think that there is a special NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) ratio, for each season. But really, every soil profile is different and you should choose your fertilizer based on the nutrient needs of your turf.
Start with a Soil Test
A best practice of turf managers across the industry is to test soil in spring so that you can balance the profile before the stress of heat hits in the summer. Do you have to test every year on every property? Probably not. But if you are working on with a new client, or on new construction, we do recommend taking a soil sample. Horizon partners with Ag Source Laboratories to provide you results and recommendations that are easy to read and implement. (See your local Horizon branch for test kits)
How Do I Select the Right Fertilizer?
It’s not just about NPK - it’s about what is IN the fertilizer you select.
- Does it have quick release or slow release fertilizer?
- Which micronutrients are included?
- Is there filler; if so, what’s in the filler?
- What’s the pellet size?
These are all important questions to ask before purchasing a fertilizer. Learn more about those questions and the answers you want here.
When is the Best Time to Apply?
|Cool Season Turf Types (e.g. fescues, bluegrass, bentgrass, ryegrass, etc.)||Spring, slow release fertilizer with lower N rates||Minimize excess growth, promote density in summer|
|Warm Season Turf Types (e.g. bermuda, St Augustine, bahia, zoysia)||Early spring as it comes out of dormancy||Higher nitrogen, preferably slow release|
Applying fertilizer at the proper times is critical to turf health. Check out a video here from Horizon’s Christina Burton on how to maximize your fertilizer application.
What about the Cost?
Fertilizer prices can vary broadly, anywhere from $15 to $55 a bag and more. So how do you know how much you should pay? The key is to look beyond the price per bag, and look at it in terms of price per application.
An effective fertilizer program must produce healthy, green turf, but it also needs to make sense from a financial standpoint. One of the most common objections when it comes to slow release fertilizer is the bag cost is too high. But when you look at the number of bags needed per application, how long the fertilizer lasts, and a few other factors, programs utilizing slow release fertilizer usually cost less overall.
There are 3 Steps to comparing fertilizer costs:
- Step 1: Calculate the number of bags needed to fertilize 1 acre (or 1,000 sq. ft)
- Step 2: Multiple the number of bags you need by the price per bag.
- Step 3: Divide the cost to fertilize 1 acre by how long the fertilizer lasts
See the steps here.
Last Thought on Slow Release Fertilizer
Slow release nitrogen is the best option for overall health of your turf. But that’s not the only benefit it offers. Using more efficient nitrogen sources can benefit your overall business by reducing labor costs, product costs and more. Check out this video on all the labor savings from using the right fertilizer.
SPRING CHEMICAL APPLICATION
Spring isn’t just the right time to fertilize turf and plants. It’s the ideal time to start your weed control strategy. Did we say strategy? Absolutely! As we continue to see pressure on the labor market, minimizing the number of pesticide applications this spring can help you save money and utilize labor for more profitable jobs.
While post-emergent herbicides (application after the weed emerges) has its place in the turf management, pre-emergent herbicides (apply before the weed emerges) is the key to an effective weed management program.
Proper application can be tricky – too early, and product washes away; but too late, and you miss the window. The secret is soil temperature. Because grassy weeds begin to pop when soil temperatures are between 60 – 70 degrees, you want to apply your pre-emergent herbicide when soil temps are consistently 55 degrees or higher.
Few other things to keep in mind when applying a pre-emergent:
- Principle #1: Pre-emergent herbicides are designed to control germinating weed seeds.
- Principle #2: Pre-emergent must be mixed correctly and applied evenly over the target area for best results.
- Principle #3: Pre-emergent herbicide must be watered in.
To learn more about pre-emergents and how to talk to your clients about getting on a weed management program, click here.
Of course, it’s after they pop that clients notice weeds. That’s when you need a post-emergent herbicide. Post-emergents are developed for use on either broadleaf (like dandelions) or grassy weeds. In addition, post-emergents are either selective (only kill certain plants) or non-selective (will kill all plants). Be sure to read the label to ensure what you are applying is applicable for the area.
|Pre-Emergent||Soil temperature has been 55 for 5 consecutive days||Annual summer grasses will begin to emerge at temps 60-70 degrees|
|Water IN||Make sure the chemical penetrates the soil|
|Use a Spray Indicator in your tank||Save money by reducing overspraying|
|Post-Emergents||Don’t mow 2-3 days before or after a post-emergent application||Gives chemical better opportunity for contact to the weed|
|Allow post-emergents to DRY||Turn off irrigation for 24-48 hours after application|
|Use a spreader-sticker||Improve action of the herbicide, reducing cost and labor|
For a quick summary of pesticide solutions for your region, click here.
Have more questions about your Spring Landscape Program? Horizon has over 70 stores in 12 states, with knowledgeable, professional staff that are ready to help. To learn more about Horizon you can visit our website at www.horizononline.com, or call 800-PVC-TURF (800-787-8873). To find a store near you click here.