Proper fertilization is necessary to maintain a healthy, lush, disease and weed-free lawn. When deciding on a lawn fertilizer, a number of options are available for the lawn gardener to choose from--the least expensive of which is generally granular, quick-release fertilizer. Aside from using the cheapest fertilizer, it's good to use the proper amount at the most effective time of year.
Quick-release fertilizer is a nitrogen-based lawn treatment that soaks into the soil immediately. Granular fertilizer comes in small lumps, like grains of barley or rice. Granular fertilizer can be either slow-release or fast-release, and the type is indicated on the label. Quick-release fertilizer is in contrast with slow-release fertilizers, which cost more by volume and require more fertilizer per application, but can take as little as one-eighth as many applications as a quick-release fertilizer.
Granular quick-release fertilizers are cheaper and faster than slow-release versions. Quick-release fertilizer is not a good choice for areas with significant runoff or groundwater, because the granules dissolve quickly into water and can cause a contamination risk in runoff from the lawn.
Mind the Timing
Lawn gardeners should fertilize at the optimal times of year for their local climates. Because chillier climates frost earlier and thaw later, fertilization times in these areas would differ from the best dates to fertilize in temperate climates. According to Penn State Cooperative Extension, lawn gardeners who prefer to keep fertilization to a minimum often apply one dose of slow-release fertilizer in the fall.
Though inexpensive fertilizer tends to be fast-absorbing, they come with some disadvantages. Inexpensive fertilizer usually must be applied to the grass more frequently than pricier fertilizers to maintain optimum fertilizer levels. When used conservatively, on a long-term basis, slow-release fertilizer can end up with a comparable cost to cheaper, fast-release fertilizer.
Because inexpensive lawn fertilizers are usually quick-release fertilizers rather than slow-release fertilizers, they have more immediate potency and can damage a lawn if applied too abundantly or unevenly. Calculating the area of a lawn is one of the basic steps to ensure using the proper amount of fertilizer. Some lawns have an unusual or asymmetrical shape that can make area measurements difficult.