Fertilizer selection

jwimsettMay 16, 2012

After years of fighting white clover, dandelions and crab grass, i decided to get a soil test done. So I got my soil results back and on it lists fertilizer needs. I'm confused though because it seems like the needs they list don't correspond with my levels.

Here are my levels.

pH 6.7

Phos 52 ppm

Potassium 101 ppm

Some of the fertilizers they recommend are




Does that seem right?

I live in south central pa and I believe the grass is fescue.

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The best defense in the war against dandilions and CG is a thick health stand of turf grass. There is a person on this site, who is very knowledgable about fescue and soil tests. This is right up his alley.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:33PM
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Ok good. I can also type out the rest of the report if necessary

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:16AM
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Yes, please give all the information on the report. A picture of the report would be ideal.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 8:21AM
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This could end up being one of the most useful threads on this site. I look forward to learning more about what a report contains and what the numbers mean.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 10:49AM
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Here are some photos I can scan and upload the actual report tomorrow if necessary. Penn State generated this report, I'm sure there are many different types of reports. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil test results

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 12:50PM
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That soil is actually very good, really doesn't need too much work. As pointed out by the test, your K is low. It's not horrible, but it could use some boosting. While your Ca and Mg saturations are good, the Ca:Mg ratio is a bit on the low side. Again, not horrible, just a bit below the optimum ratio. Does your soil seem "tight" to you? If so that can be part of the cause. That pH is pretty perfect, so you don't want to add lime to raise Ca, but adding gypsum would raise the Ca a bit, without affecting pH, but I wouldn't worry about it too much. Back to the K. The best way to raise that is with something called potash, or potassium sulfate. It comes in bags labeled 0-0-50. It can be hard to find, so look around at garden stores. You don't need to add a lot, 1-2 lbs per 1000 should do now and in a month, then again in fall. If you can't find that, look for fertilizers with a high third number. I think Lesco/JDL sells 28-0-11, and starter is high in K (also P too, which you really don't need but it won't hurt). The only issue with most high K fertilizers is they often use potassium chloride, or muriate of potash, which is not the worst thing in the world, but the chlorides aren't going to do your lawn any favors. Look for potassium sulfate as an ingredient, but not many use it because it's more expensive. If that's all you can find it will be ok, as chlorides leach fairly quickly. What was your Organic matter percentage on that test?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 8:07AM
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tiemco, could you explain what the target range is for the optimum numbers that you want your soil to fall into and what effect some elements like Mg and Ca have on turf? If it's easier, is there a link you could recommend that is a "reading soil reports and what the numbers mean and why they are important for dummies"?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 9:09AM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

Grass1950, many of the people that used to do a lot of soil test interpretation on this site moved elsewhere because of the flaming, etc that is tolerated here on GW. If you google Tiemco's username, my username and Morpheuspa's username you'll likely find more about soil test interpretation and soil management than you care to think about. In painful detail.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:24AM
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@andy and timco. I couldn't find anything anywhere the numbers they advised so I picked up a few bags of 10-10-10 as it was the highest they had in potassium. Do you think that will work?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:57AM
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jdo053103(7b - NC)

listen to andy10917 and tiemco, they are experts at soil. i belong to the other forum under a different name...you will find all you need to know about soil interpretation.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 9:25PM
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10-10-10 should be OK, but only if the sources of N, P, and K are not chlorides. What does it say on the bag as sources of the nutrients? If you use it, then only once this spring (right around now) since too much N in late spring/early summer can be harmful.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:29AM
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Thanks andy10917, I'll do that.

BTW the OP was advised to put down 1 to 2 lbs of K now, if the OP does that ( 2# of K per 1000 ) with triple 10 will that end up putting down too much N & P--or no harm?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 1:59AM
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If the OP uses 10-10-10, his N, P, and K are equivalent, so he should only put down 10 lbs per 1000, that would be the max for nitrogen. That will give him 1 lb per 1000 of P, and K as well. The extra P will be fine as his levels are low enough as to not cause any issues. Generally with any synthetic fertilizer with N you don't want to add more than 1 lb per 1000.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 8:27AM
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The bag says it is derived from: ammonium sulfate, muriate of potash, diammonium phosphate, urea.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 8:41AM
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Muriate of potash is potassium chloride. It's not the best idea to use chloride salts on you lawn. One time would be OK but I wouldn't make it a regular practice. Try to find potassium sulfate if you can for subsequent applications.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:10PM
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Where I live there is limited selection to yard fertilizers. I'm limited to Lowes and Home Depot's lawn section, so what I have is all they've really got. I'll put this down like you advised (10 per 1000) then I'll try to find something online for future use.

Second question. I haven't yet fertilized, but when watering some grass seed I noticed some mushrooms. Below is a link to a photo. Will this change my fertilizer selection?

Here is a link that might be useful: Mushroom Photos

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Nope, not at all. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi that generally appear when soil moisture is high, and temps are in the right range. It is a normal part of having a lawn.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 11:52AM
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