Chemicals in Lawn Fertilizer

Before selecting a fertilizer for your lawn, it is imperative that you know what the differing varieties and numbers on the bag mean. Fertilizer chemicals are sold in varying formulas, for new growth to old lawn repair and routine maintenance. The first step in any fertilizer regimen should be to perform a soil sample test. This will lead you on the correct path to choosing a fertilizer that will suit your needs, with the appropriate chemicals formulas.


Nitrogen is the most important element you can add to your lawn. It gives the grass its green appearance and creates thickness to the blades. Nitrogen provides density and promotes a sturdy growth to the lawn, which is necessary to prevent weeds from appearing. When choosing a fertilizer, the level of nitrogen is located as the first number of the fertilizer formula. A 24-12-6 fertilizer will have a 24% nitrogen base. Nitrogen is captured from the atmosphere and combined with hydrogen to form ammonia. This nitrogen-based fertilizer can then be applied to plants.


Phosphorus is the second ingredient listed on a fertilizer bag. This middle number represents the percentage of phosphorus in the fertilizer, just as the first number represents the amount of nitrogen. Phosphorous is essential to a healthy lawn. It promotes a healthy root system and helps the plant to establish itself in the soil. In times of new planting or when renewing older lawns, the amount of phosphorus will be increased in the ideal fertilizer. Phosphorus is simply the fossilized remains of marine life that are found in rock deposits. These remains go through a manufacturing process to combine the phosphate rock with sulfuric acid to produce a phosphorus solution.


Potassium, the third listed number on the fertilizer scale, is essential to prevent disease and builds resistance in the lawn. It allows the lawn to survive periods of drought, wear and cold weather. Potassium helps aide in the loss of water through the blades and strengthens the leaf blade of the grass. Potassium is essential to plants in much the same way that calcium is for human development. It is mined from ore deposits and granulated for application to plants.

Keywords: fertilizer, chemical fertilizer, nitrogen fertilizer

About this Author

Christina Wheeler has been a professional freelance writer since 2007. She lends her expertise in animal care, gardening and home improvement to online publications such as Garden Guides and eHow. Wheeler studied business management at Ohio University.