Sign up today! TREA publishes a monthly newsletter including volunteer opportunities, news and upcoming events. Please enter your email below:
Lawn and Garden Biology
Lawn and Garden Biology
Your lawn and garden need more than just nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to sustain a beautiful appearance. People need more than just calcium to remain healthy; plants are no different. A strong and healthy lawn or garden should receive 20 valuable nutrients, all of which may be found under one of three categories. If you feed your lawn and garden with well-balanced meal of these nutrients, you will soon begin to notice a positive change in the quality of your grass and plants. The three categories mentioned above are:
- Primary Nutrients
- Macro and Secondary Nutrients
- Micro Nutrients
First, the Primary Nutrients. Again these are not nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Rather, they are carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Seeing that all organic life is carbon based and requires water to live, these nutrients are what define plant life.
Primary Nutrients can generally be found without our input. However, in most cases the Macro and Secondary Nutrients are not so readily available; they have to be provided through fertilization. In this group we do find nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Even better, we have calcium, magnesium and sulfur, which are just as important to a healthy lawn and garden. Calcium is required for the uptake of nitrogen and other minerals. It also forms the structural part of cell walls. Magnesium is the major component found in chlorophyll, and gives your plant its entire green colour. It also plays a role as enzymes in carbohydrates, sugars, fats, and in the germination of seeds. Sulfur is essential for chlorophyll production. In large quantities sulfur will promote a dark green colour for your lawn and garden. Sulphur is also found in amino acids, vitamins, and enzymes.
When laying down a fertilizer, remember that balance is key. Having nutrients with none in excess and none deficient will ensure a healthy green lawn that is capable of fighting off drought, disease, and infestations.
When choosing a fertilizer, all of these nutrients must be considered. Excessive broadcasting of nitrogen will create an even greater demand for the other macronutrients, leading to a stressed plant. Typically, grass has been found to carry the same amount of nitrogen as potassium. As a rule, try to keep equal nitrogen-potassium ratios for a balanced demand of nutrients. A soil free of pesticides and rich with microorganisms will ultimately manufacture all of the important nutrients itself so that you won’t have to.
Micro Nutrients are not as important but still valuable. These nutrients are molybdenum, copper, boron, iron, manganese, zinc, chlorine, cobalt, nickel, sodium, and silicon. A deficiency in copper will show as slow growth and yellowing of leaf blades. Molybdenum is required for protein synthesis; without it, plant growth ceases. Chlorine is involved in the movement of water and nutrients within cells to promote the take-up of mineral elements and photosynthesis. Iron acts as a catalyst for the synthesis of chlorophyll, essential for net growth. Nickel is required for seed germination and the conversion of nitrogen. Clearly all of these Micro Nutrients play an important role in lawn and garden biology.