How To Fertilize Bermuda Grass Lawns

-[John White] Welcome to Southwest Yard and Garden, I’m John White. Today we are going to be talking about fertilizing lawn grasses. And this be primarily the Bermudas in the southern part of the state. With us today is Dr. Bernd Leinauer. Dr. Leinauer is going to be talking
about the different aspects of fertilizing the lawn, what fertilizers are, and how to apply them correctly. Bernd, welcome the
Southwest Yard and Garden. -[Bernd Leinauer] Thank you John, and thank you for having me on the show today. -[John] We’re going to talk about fertilizing Bermuda grass yards. One of the big things is, why do we need a fertilizer? -[Bernd] Well John, a sound fertilization program on your lawn is very important. It can help your lawn in many ways to improve. Usually the color gets greener of your
turf. The turf density improves. Which is important because the dense turf keeps the weeds out. Fertilization is important to improve rooting, which can
help saving water in your irrigation program. And then, fertilization is also
important to help your turf recooperate from wear or from heavy abuse. Which is important or which may be not so important on home lawns, but it is important, for example, on athletic fields, soccer fields, football fields. -[John] I know if you got a lot of kids and dogs, it’s important. -[Bernd] Absolutely, I agree. If you
have a lot of wear on your home lawn or your turf, then you need a good
fertilization program. -[John] Let’s look at a fertilizer sack, and take some
of the mystery out of a bag of fertilizer. Bernd, we have a sack of fertilizer here,
and fertilizer is always a mystery to homeowners. And there’s a lot of numbers
that people just don’t know what they mean. When a person goes to
a nursery or garden center, picks up a bag of fertilizer, what are some of the things that we want to look at as far as the bag of fertilizer? -[Bernd] Yeah John, if we go in to buy a fertilizer, we should look for a complete fertilizer. Complete fertilizer is a type of fertilizer that has at least three nutrients in it. And the way–how we know that we have a complete fertilizer is, we look at these numbers here. This for example, this bag here has three numbers on
it. A twenty, a four, an eight, and the three numbers indicate the amount of nutrients
that are in the bag. The first number here says, twenty percent of the bag is
nitrogen. The second number four, four percent is phosphorus. And third, this case eight, tells us eight percent of the fertilizer is potassium. And all three
nutrients make it a complete fertilizer. These three types of nutrients are
what the turf needs the most. -[John] Now, once we’ve purchased the product, the fertilizer, and we’re going to utilize it, how much of this are we actually
going to put on? What would a bag like this cover? -[Bernd] Talking for Bermuda grass turf, we are looking at about one pound of nitrogen per growing month. -[John] And that’s actual nitrogen? -[Bernd] That’s actual nitrogen. You have to consider here in that bag only. If you buy a fifty pound bag or twenty five pound bag of fertilizer, only twenty percent is actual nitrogen. So you have to do your math first to establish exactly how much fertilizer you have to put down, to get one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet. -[John] Okay. And once we’ve determined those numbers, we’re going to put this out. And the
nitrogen does what for the grass? -[Bernd] Nitrogen is what we call a macronutrient, and it’s probably the major nutrient. Just what I said at the beginning.
It is responsible for the green up in the spring. It is responsible for the
color in general. It increases the green color of the turf. it also has an effect on rooting, the depths of the rooting. So, nitrogen
is really the key nutrient that we look at when we fertilize. -[John] Okay, and then
phosphorus? -[Bernd] Phosphorus is also important for the rooting system. But with phosphorus, we sometimes have soils in the backyard that already have adequate phosphorus levels, and then it’s not that important. To determine how
much phosphorus we have to give our yard, we should pull soil samples and send
them to a soil testing lab. They determine for us how much phosphorus is
actually needed. -[John] Okay, and then our last number of potassium. -[Bernd] Our last number
potassium, plays a major role in drought resistance, has an effect on rooting, has
an effect on cell building, cell production of the plants, but its
major role is for drought resistance. So, potassium really plays a key role in
this part of the state. -[John] Okay. Why don’t we take a sec fertilizer and talk about some applicators and show people how to how to put it out. -[Bernd] That is a very good
idea. -[John] Bernd, we have a couple different types of applicators here. Can you tell
us a little bit about the pros and cons on these? Which ones better or why? -[Bernd] John, there are basically two ways of applying your fertilizer in your backyard. Two types of spreader. There is the cyclone spreader and then there is the drop spreader. The drop spreader just has holes at the bottom, and that’s where the
fertilizer pellets fall out, drop out. The cyclone spreader has a plastic disc here
that moves while you push it, and that rotating disc makes the fertilizer
pellets fly to both sides. So that covers about an area of a couple of feet to each side, and this drop spreader here covers only about a good foot or so. -[John] Okay. Now are these scales or numbers that are on them? -[Bernd] Yeah, there are numbers here
on the drop spreader, and this number indicate the setting for your
calibration, and that’s a number that you usually get from the back of your
fertilizer bag. You have to look for the number or for the setting of the
drop spreader. You loosen the knob, this knob here, you set it to the
appropriate number and then you tighten it again, and then you know exactly how
much fertilizer you’ll apply to your back yard. The same here, we also have a
little knob here. We loosen the screw, set the knob, and tighten the screw again, and
then the spreader is calibrated. -[John] Well let’s put a little fertilizer in,
and let’s see how you do it. [pouring fertilizer] -[Bernd] And very important John, after
fertilization, you have to water your lawn. -[John] Okay. Well Bernd, thank you very much for being on Southwest Yard and Garden. And I’m
sure these tips are going to be helpful for our viewers. If you do have
additional questions on lawns and fertilization, contact your local County
Extension Office. [music]

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