After more than 10 years of gardening, helping thousands of clients across Perth’s suburbs there have been several common mistakes that home owners and hobby gardeners make. Too many people under appreciate is the importance of fertiliser.
I am here to try and start a conversation about fertiliser and I hope that this simple blog will help you take your lawns and gardens to the next level. I don’t want this to be too complicated, we will keep things fairly basic. May this be the start of your lawn and garden improvement journey.
I believe that lawns and plants need 4 things to thrive,
- Nutrients and
- Protection from damage (bugs, disease, weeds, traffic etc.)
I think of these four points like four legs of a table. You can’t cut a leg off a table without it becoming shaky, unstable or even outright falling over. Likewise, you need all four of the above points for your plants and lawns to be beautiful and healthy, only having 3 is not enough.
So, to put it practically a lawn that receives plenty of water, enough light and is not being damaged by pests or diseases will still struggle if it is planted in poor quality soil lacking in nutrients.
The truth: Most WA soils have little to no nutrients.
It’s true. This is because Western Australian soil is, for the most part, sand. There are some areas, rare spots indeed, where this is not the case. But these spots are few and far between. The sandy soils in WA are very hydrophobic and are almost completely lacking in any of the core nutrients needed for most plants and almost all lawn varieties to survive without some supplementation.
The reason why fertilising is crucial is because fertilisers contain the nutrients that our lawns and plants need to thrive. This means that for most plants and lawns that we place in our gardens if we do not replace the soil they are in or supplement with fertiliser they will be completely missing one off the four legs they need to stand on.
More water is not the answer
An honest but common mistake that I see with those new to gardening is that when a plant starts to go yellow, they add more water. It is a very deceptive problem and maybe you have done this too.
It is deceptive because it is sometimes the case that a yellow leaf will indicate insufficient water (usually though this will be accompanied by wilting or drooping leaves). However, it is far more common that a yellow leaf (Chlorosis is the technical term) is actually being caused by a lack of nutrients. Minerals like Nitrogen, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese and others are essential for plants. Without them the plant cannot photosynthesize. When the plant starts to yellow it may be crying out for a good feed not a good drink and in some cases adding more water will actually do more harm than good.
If you need help with how to set your reticulation click here.
Take Action: Which fertiliser is best?
So now we know that fertilisers are needed, they give the nutrients our plants and lawns are lacking . The obvious question remains. Which fertiliser should you use?
Whilst there is a lot to learn about fertilisers here are 3 fool proof tips that will help even a complete novice to get great results.
3 Basic tips for picking fertiliser.
- Don’t get so caught up in brand names or prices that you never take action. A general, cheap NPK fertiliser applied as recommended on the packet will do a great amount of good for most plants struggling for nutrients. Whilst there are differences in brands and some fertilisers are better than others, a good or even average fertiliser applied today is better than a perfect fertiliser that is never applied.
However, if you are looking for some recommendations for great WA lawn fertilisers read our article here.
- Follow the label. Many brands have specific fertiliser mixes for specific types of plants and they advertise these on their packaging. There are fertiliser mixes for lawns, citrus, roses, vegies, fruit and more. These are not gimmicks, the fertiliser have been mixed with these plants in mind. Some will be better than others, but a cheap citrus blend applied as recommended to a citrus tree will do a great job.
- Don’t go crazy. Maybe your lawn is yellow and you are now super excited, having discovered the power of fertiliser, to make it green again. I have been there before. The temptation in this situation is to over apply, double the recommended dosage hoping that your lawn improvements will be twice as good in half the time. Unfortunately, it is not always that simple. Too much fertiliser can burn the lawns or plants you are caring for or even cause other issues. In addition if you over apply you may simply find that most of it just gets washed away.
Remember that the fertiliser manufacturer wants you to succeed when you use their fertiliser. This way you will buy more of their fertiliser in the future. Trust their recommendations, they have done the tests for you and know the best ratios to apply for each circumstance to get great results.
Now you know the basics. Go and make your lawns and gardens thrive!! Also take some before any after pictures, it can be really rewarding.
If all this seems a bit to complicated or to time consuming for your busy schedule fill out a quote request and one of our gardeners will be able to come and help you achieve your goals for your lawns and gardens.
Have a great week.