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Understanding Lawn & Garden Fertilizer Numbers

If you’ve shopped for lawn food, you might have noticed a numbers on the label that looks something like this: 32-0-4. Most people ignore it, but this code tells you a lot about the lawn food you’re about to buy. The numbers stand for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (N-P-K) and they tell you the percentage of those ingredients in the product by weight. But what do these letters & numbers really mean for your lawn & garden?


The Roles of N, P, and K

Nitrogen greens up your lawn & helps it grow. Phosphorous stimulates root growth and helps seeds sprout. Potassium helps grass withstand stresses like disease and drought.

Not all “N’s” Are the Same

Nitrogen is nitrogen, but where it comes from and how it gets on your lawn can make a big difference. That difference is all about how it’s distributed and how quickly it’s released. Bargain and low-cost lawn foods contain mostly fast-release nitrogen. So, your lawn greens up for about 7-14 days, and then the green fades away — a feast-then-famine situation. Scotts® lawn foods use a mix of fast- and slow-release nitrogen to help your lawn stay consistently green for 6-8 weeks.

How N, P, and K Are Mixed

If you look closely at most store-brand lawn foods, they look like little pebbles of different colors. That’s because the N, P, and K are all separate. So, when you spread the product on the lawn, you don’t get an even distribution. Scotts® Lawn Food products have Scotts® All-In-One Particle®. So, you get an even distribution of nutrients every time you apply.

Remember:  Up, Down, All Around


Phosphorus has been removed from most lawn fertilizers as typical Canadian lawns have sufficient amounts of phosphorus.  Miracle Gro® fertilizers contain phosphorus to promote strong roots and bigger blooms.


Information courtesy of Scotts


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