Slow release lawn fertilizers are another option for St Augustine lawn owners wanting to implement a year round fertilization program for their lawns. We mainly discuss standard lawn fertilizers on this site as they are the most commonly used fertilizers by most homeowners. However, as more companies are bringing out some excellent quality slow release lawn fertilizers, it’s appropriate that we also bring these lawn care products to our attention for possible use on our Saint Augustine lawns.
Regular Fertilizers Versus Slow Release Lawn Fertilizers
Slow release lawn fertilizers are made a little differently than standard fertilizers, and are specially designed to release their nutrients slowly over a much longer period of time.
Regular lawn fertilizers are made from a selection of nutrients which are all blended together to form the complete fertilizer product. After application and watering in, these fertilizers will begin to break down immediately and release the nutrients to the lawn, with full break down of the fertilizer usually expected within about a week or two.
Slow release lawn fertilizers use the same nutrients but are designed to deteriorate at a much slower rate than regular fertilizers. As a result, a slow release lawn fertilizer will continually feed the Saint Augustine lawn slowly for 2 to 3 months from a single application.
Slow Release Lawn Fertilization Program
This is a general guide only. Be sure to follow manufacturers recommended application rates and frequencies.
Using slow release fertilizers on our St Augustine lawn will alter our year round fertilizing program for healthy Saint Augustine grass. We always begin counting our fertilizer applications from the month prior to winter, because the pre-winter fertilization is the most important of the year to ensure good lawn health throughout Winter and the earliest lawn green up in Spring.
Therefore, we begin our fertilization one month prior to the onset of winter (depending on where we live), and then follow up every 3 months, or otherwise according to manufacturers recommended application frequencies thereafter.
Slow Release Lawn Fertilizers and Lawn Mowing
Because slow release fertilizers will be sitting inside the thatch layer of the lawn for some time as they slowly break down, we really should alter our lawn mowing practices slightly so that we don't remove the fertilizer granules in our lawn mowing catcher when we next mow the lawn.
Remember that most lawn mowers utilize a sucking action to help lift and throw lawn clippings into the mower catcher, and it is this same sucking action which can vacuum up those precious lawn fertilizer granules into the catcher during lawn mowing.
The first one or two mowings after application of slow release lawn fertilizer should be done with the catcher off the lawn mower, leaving the clippings to fall on the grass and deteriorate where they lay. This is a widely used and recommended practice of recycling lawn clippings called mulch lawn mowing.
Provided the grass is regularly mowed, then these clippings are also very good for the lawn itself, returning valuable Nitrogen and moisture to the the soil and lawn, like an added fertilizer boost for the turf, while also protecting the lawn soil from water loss through evaporation or from cold damage in the winter months.
Over time, the fertilizer granules will slowly fall to the bottom of the thatch and close to the soil itself, and will then present little to no chance of ever being sucked up and removed by the lawn mower. So after the first one to two mowings without the catcher, it would be safe to once again begin catching the lawn clippings as usual.
Extra Iron For Winter Lawns
The only real issue with slow release lawn fertilizers is that we often cannot switch to a winter fertilizer for the colder months of the year. Which for good quality fertilizers isn't of a massive concern because they should be very well balanced in their nutrient profiles anyway.
This is with the exception of Iron. Lawns love a little extra Iron in their diets over winter, it helps keep the grass green and resistant to the effects of the cold weather, and this is more so the case with St Augustine grass winter lawn care.
So if we decide to use slow release fertilizers on our St Augustine lawns, then a supplement of the minor nutrient of Iron would be a very good addition to our fertilizing program, if we cannot otherwise find a quality slow release lawn fertilizer which is formulated specifically for winter months.
Iron can be bought in the fertilizer aisle in any store which sells lawn fertilizers. It will be in chelated form and sold in a small pack for a few dollars. It is mixed up in a watering can and applied to the lawn as per manufacturers recommendations.
The Iron supplement can be applied once a year prior to winter, at the same time as the pre-winter fertilizer application is being applied to the lawn.
Adding Iron to our St Augustine lawn for winter health really is very low cost, and very easily done in minimum time and effort, and well worth it in the results to achieve a St Augustine lawn in good health year round, and especially in winter.
Just remember, Iron is a minor nutrient, and should only be applied in small quantities, so be sure to measure the lawn and only ever apply as recommended by the manufacturer.
Alternatively an application of Trace Elements, which includes Iron would be of even greater benefit to the lawn.
Slow release lawn fertilizers are a worthwhile new addition to the products available for looking after our lawns. While they won't be suitable for everyone, nor for every home or lawn, they will indeed be a perfect choice for many. And as such, it can be a worthwhile consideration to switch to slow release lawn fertilizers for anyone interested in doing so. If not, then continue to feel confident in following on with standard lawn fertilizer products, it really is a personal choice.
Slow release lawn fertilizers are one more option available to us for our Saint Augustine lawn care.