Lawn Dressing Tips

1. About

It is commonly known that lawns should be ‘Lawn Dressed’ in Spring, but few people realize why this is such an essential gardening activity…The main purpose of Lawn Dressing is to incorporate organics back into the soil.

The addition of Lawn Dressing rejuvenates, initiates and invigorates new lawn growth. This  results in an immediate and visible improvement of your lawn within 4 to 6 days. More importantly however, Lawn Dressing improves the soil structure and provides a basis for future microbial activity in the soil, ensuring your lawn performs better for the entire season.

2. How to Apply Lawn Dressing

Prepare your lawn by mowing it short and scarify if possible. This allows the dry dead grass to be removed so the lawn dressing can penetrate the soil more easily. Always apply fertilizer to the dry lawn before applying lawn dressing. Plantland recommend Wonder Vitaliser Lawn & Leaf or if you prefer an organic fertilizer use Wonder Organic Lawn + Leaf+C. Broadcast by hand or with a spreader, at a rate of 20g per m2. Thereafter spread lawn dressing over your lawn using the back of a rake. The thickness of the layer may vary, but the tips of the lawn should be visible through the lawn dressing. A 30dm3 bag covers ±3m2 depending on the type of lawn and the length of the grass. Water thoroughly to dissolve the fertilizer and to initiate lawn growth.

Continue watering regularly until the lawn is established.

3. What to do if you have Weeds

  • In lawns that have existing weeds, do not mow the lawn.
  • Apply a selective broadleaf herbicide (Efekto Hormoban or Turfweeder) allowing at least a week before mowing for the herbicide to act on the plant tissue.
  • Lawn Dressing is recommended during early Spring (August and September) on existing lawns. It can however be applied at any time of the year and will enhance and improve the overall lawn growth in your garden
  • A Lawn Dressing application during late Autumn reduces weed growth and ensures your lawn stays in a healthy vigorous condition, promoting it’s endurance over Winter.

4. What is a Fertiliser?

Fertilisers are a blend of plant nutrients that enhance and promote plant growth.

Plant growth is affected by elements contained in the soil referred to as macro- and micro- elements from the soil.

As these names suggest – macro elements are the major elements, needed in regular supply. Micro elements (or trace elements) are needed in smaller amounts.

There are 3 macro elements – nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K)

  • Nitrogen (N) – the leaf-maker. Nitrogen stimulates the growth of leafy vegetables, improves leaf colour in lawns and increases the size of evergreen plants.
  • Phosphorus (P) – the root-maker. Phosphorus (P) stimulates early root formation. It is essential in soil used for sowing seeds and for growing young plants. Phosphorous also enables plants to resist disease and encourages winter hardiness.
  • Potassium (K) – the flower and fruit maker. Potassium or potash (K) improves the quality of flowers and fruit, and the flavour of fruit and vegetables. Essential for photosynthesis, potassium also makes plants more resistant to temperature extremes and drought.

There are 7 micro-elements, Aluminium (Al), Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Magnesium (Mg), Molybdenum (Mo), Sodium (Na), Micro-elements are needed in small quantities and perform a variety of different functions within different plants. A deficiency in any one of the micro-elements may result in growth retardation or deformities

5. How do I understand which fertilizer to use when?

Fertilizers are named according to the 3 macro-elements they contain. If you understand the ratio and the elements, you’ll always know exactly what is contained in each fertilizer bag!

Fertilizer are represented as follows:

N:P:K (%)

Ie. 2:3:2 (22) is 2 parts N, 3 parts P, 2 parts K

7:1:3 (21) is 7 parts N, 1 part P, 3 parts K

The percentage (in brackets) ie. 22 or 21 in the above examples indicates the total percent of the combined elements in the fertilizer bag

SR indicates that the formulation is Slow Release. This means that nitrogen is released slowly into the soil over a period of weeks.

SR* indicates that the formulation is Sustained Release. Release their nutrients (NPK) at a specific rate over a specific period of time.

Did you know?

Phosphorous is immobile in the soil. This means it does not leach readily through the soil as do Nitrogen and Potassium. As such, it is vitally important that phosphorous is added to all new plantings as it is then incorporated directly at the root zone where it is needed. Ensure Superphosphates, Bonemeal or 2:3:2 are incorporated with each new planting.

Traditional fertilizers contain a blend of the three macro-elements. More advanced formulations may include micro-elements or have other additives that improve and enhance plant growth.

6. Organic Fertilizers

The term ‘Organic’ refers to products that are not synthetic or manufactured, rather derived from the earth, having natural origins.

ORGANIC Fertilizers have the following benefits:

  • Organic and safe to use
  • Chlorine free
  • Promote microbial activity in soil
  • Specially formulated

7. Why are fertilizers necessary?

In nature, plant nutrients are replenished over thousands of years through by the decomposition of dead plants and animals. This is slow process that has been severely impacted upon by today’s modern world

The nutrients utilized by plants need to be replenished.

Plant growth is reduced when soil nutrients are reduced and as such we need to replenish the nutrients to maintain and enhance plant growth. Soils vary and plant requirements vary. To ensure you get the best plant growth you need to ensure all plant elements are available to the plant.

8. When & How to apply Fertilizer correctly

At planting – Always include phosphorous with new plantings – Wonder Bonemeal or Wonder Super Phosphates are ideal. Alternatively use Wonder Vitaliser Plant & Veg 2:3:4 (15) + C (8) SR or Wonder 2:3:2 (14) + C (8) SR or for an organic alternative use Wonder Organic Granules Vita-Boost as a starter solution.

As per the recommendations on the bag, this fertilizer should be incorporated into your planting soil or potting soil during planting

  • Broadcast application
    This method, which covers large areas well, is used to apply granular fer­tilisers to lawns or to garden beds. The broadcast method can be done by hand, simply ‘throwing’ fertiliser over the area to be treater. Alternatively you can use a hand-rotary or drop spreader.
    Always adhere to the recommendation rate on the bag
  • Top dressing application
    This technique, which provides nutrients to individual plants such as shrubs and perennials, is done by hand with granular fertilisers. Simply apply the fertiliser around the base of the plant, extending to the drip line. For vegetables, place the fertiliser in a strip parallel to the plant­ing row.
  • Side Dressing
    Dry fertiliser is applied as a side dressing once plants are actively growing. Scatter fertiliser on both sides of the row 15 to 20 cm from the plants. Rake it into the soil and water thoroughly.
  • Banding
    Narrow bands of fertiliser are applied in furrows 5 to 8 cm from the garden seeds and 2.5 to 5 cm deeper than the seeds or plants. Careless placement of the fertiliser band too close to the seeds will burn the roots of the seedlings. The best technique is to stretch a string where the seed row is to be planted. With a corner of a hoe, dig a furrow 7.5 cm deep, 7.5 cm to one side, and parallel with the string. Spread 1/2 the suggested rate of the fertiliser in the furrow and cover it with soil. Repeat the banding operation on the other side of the string, and then sow seeds underneath the string.
    For widely spaced plants, such as tomatoes, fertilisers can be placed in bands 15 cm long for each plant or in a circle around the plant. Place the bands 10 cm from the plant base. If used in the hole itself, place the fertiliser at the bottom of the hole, work it into the soil, and place a layer of soil about 5 cm deep over the fertilised soil before putting the plant in the hole.

9. Fertilizer Do’s & Don’ts

Don’t apply any fertilizer until you have read the directions carefully.
Don’t try to apply one or two year’s supply of fertiliser at the one time. It is far better to provide little and often; trying to get fast growth by a heavy application is a recipe for plant failure.
Don’t apply fertiliser to a lawn and then neglect to water it in very thoroughly, especially in hot weather. It is inevitable that leaf burn will occur with careless applications of fertiliser on lawns.
Don’t continually fertilise lawns with Wonder Ammonium Sulphate, as it encourages excessive top growth. It can also alter the soil pH level towards acid conditions (which grasses don’t like). It is okay to apply the occasional feed with Wonder Ammonium Sulphate providing there are follow up applications of a complete lawn food like Wonder Vitaliser Lawn & Leaf 7:1:3 (15) + C (8) SR.
To raise the pH of your soil when it is too acidic use Wonder Agricultural Lime.