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Lawn turning yellow? Nutrient deficiencies explained. Part 1

Various soil deficiencies can cause problems in your lawn and landscape plants. Look for the symptoms. Know the cure.

Knowing exactly what your lawn needs throughout the year can be challenging, as many factors come into play. More than likely, if your plants are stressed they are most often suffering from deficiencies of major the nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) & Potassium (K). Typically these nutrients may exist in our native soils, but can be tied up or unavailable to the plant due to soil composition or  pH. While you can artificially supplement these nutrients with synthetic fertilizers, what’re you’re essentially doing is creating a chemical dependency for your lawn. Why not let healthy soil do the work for you?

Here are a few key signs to look for this spring that could mean a deficiency of one of the top three major plant nutrients:

My lawn is turning yellow:

Your lawn could need Nitrogen. Nitrogen is responsible for maintaining necessary amino acids and proteins required by the plant. When nitrogen is not available in adequate amounts, you’ll often notice yellowing leaves (Chlorosis), and eventually loss of leaves. Without enough nitrogen, plants can’t photosynthesize, which is how they make sugars and starches for energy. In times of heavy rain, Nitrogen is often leached away from our soil, leaving your lawn starving for more. The best way to improve nitrogen content in your soil? Add in or top-dress with organic compost. Overtime, adding organic matter and soil conditioners will replace valuable nutrients and unbind existing ones. Liquid soil feeds, such as liquid compost extract, can also help. Organic fertilizers typically contain low levels of nitrogen that will become available over time; but when used in combination with organic soil conditioners, you can correct nitrogen deficiencies naturally.

NOTE: A yellowing in St. Augustine lawns in spring can also signal an infection of TARR (Take-All Root Rot disease). If you’re seeing irregular patches of yellowing in your lawn, give us a call for an inspection.

My plants leaves are brown and curled:

Your plants could need Potassium. Flower set, cell growth, root development, and improved moisture absorption all rely on adequate levels of potassium. If potassium isn’t available to your lawn or landscape plants, they will appear to have scorched brown lesions, leaf curl, interveinal chlorosis, and an overall loss of vigor. If your lawn seemed to suffer more cold damage than normal, it could also be due to a lack of potassium. Good levels of potassium also help plants resist and survive pests and diseases.

My lawns leaves  have a purplish hue:

Your plants could need more Phosphorus. Phosphorus is essential for reproduction, respiration, photosynthesis, and cell enlargement. When phosphorus is not available in the soil, your plant may develop a purple hue along the stems or leaves. Root growth and flower production are also stunted. In our “gumbo” heavy clay soils, phosphorus is often present in abundance, but due to the soil composition it is typically bound up and unavailable for plants to absorb. That’s why plants in our area can still have a phosphorus deficiency, while at the same time there is plenty of phosphorus in the soil.

Again, adding organic matter and soil conditioners to the soil to feed it, loosen its texture and aerate it is the best way to free up the naturally present phosphorus.

What should you do?

When it’s clear your lawn is suffering from a nutrient deficiency, the best first step you can take is to amend the soil, or top-dress the lawn, with organic compost and apply a natural fertilizer. Soils Alive takes it to the next level by applying specially formulated organic soil stimulators to your lawn along with custom blended organic fertilizer applied at just the right times of year. Whether you DIY your plant care, or call us, just be sure to take action quickly, as major nutrient deficiencies can quickly kill large patches of your lawn.

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