Nitrogen, Phosphates and Potassium: The Big 3 Ingredients for a Healthy Lawn

The chemistry of lawn care

At the end of the day, lawn care is like love: it’s all about chemistry!

As your grass leaves grow and root networks develop, nutrients are drawn from the earth and converted into the vital materials that your lawn needs to thrive. This simple chemistry of grass growth is constantly changing the fertility and acidity of your soil, so from time to time you’ll need to add a little nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium to keep things in balance.

Nitrogen / Nitrates

Without nitrogen, plants can’t create chlorophyll, the miracle pigment that makes grass green and enables the whole process of photosynthesis. Nitrogen is one of the most plentiful elements on earth – it makes up more than three quarters of the air we breathe – but plants can only absorb it by drawing nitrates and ammonia from the soil. When your lawn’s nitrate and ammonia levels start to decline, that’s when you’ll start to see signs of nitrogen deprivation in your lawn, such as chlorosis (a condition where your grass can’t produce enough chlorophyll and the grass turns yellow). A nitrogen infusion can transform the look of your lawn, but it must be applied with care, and at the right pace, otherwise you can encourage lawn diseases and burnt foliage. At Lawnkeeper, we use either a fast-release, controlled-release or organic nitrogen treatment, depending on what your lawn needs at any given moment.

Phosphorus / Phosphates

While nitrogen is  important for what happens above the surface of the soil, grass needs phosphorus to build strong root networks underground. The stronger your lawn’s roots, the better – grass with deep roots can withstand typical British drought and frost conditions and can recover from damage quickly. To improve phosphorus levels in your soil, we apply a phosphate treatment, which the grass then absorbs and converts into new growth.

We add phosphorus sparingly to most lawns; it doesn’t wash away as easily as nitrogen or potassium, and established grass doesn’t need much of it to survive. New grass will draw a lot of phosphorus from the soil when it’s taking hold (for instance, after a re-seeding or turfing treatment), but once the new lawn’s root network is established and the initial growth period has drawn to a close, phosphorus levels in the soil remain fairly static – we rarely need to top up. In fact, too much phosphorus can feed algae growth, so we only add phosphates when they’re needed.

Potassium (potash)

Potassium, also known as potash, is a key ingredient for well-fed, healthy grass. Plants use potassium to absorb water from the soil and create the sugars they need to flourish and fight off disease. Heavy rainfall can wash potassium out of your soil, so a regular ‘top-up’ of potash is often worth doing. Potassium needs to be added sparingly — too much of it can destroy the slightly acidic environment your grass needs to grow – so it’s best to get a professional to apply it. 

Want to know more? Get a free lawn analysis!

At Lawnkeeper, our fully trained and certified lawn care technicians are grass experts. We can diagnose the chemical imbalances and deficiencies that might be holding your lawn back from its natural rich green state, and we’ve got a range of treatments to put it right. Give us a call on 0845 0945 363 today and we’ll help you fall in love with your lawn again.



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