Adding fertilizers to soils requires initial soil testing to determine which nutrients need replenishing. All plants, trees, shrubs and vegetation require different soil pH levels to thrive. Fertilization is the easiest method to adjust soils to the proper pH level requirements. Over-fertilization causes damage to plants. Learning the different names of fertilizers increases the gardener’s success rate of making the proper soil changes.
Use limestone to reduce the acid levels in soils. Vegetables, fruits and flowers with too much soil acidity do well with ground or pellet limestone applications. Be certain the ground is not frozen during application. Work the limestone fertilizer into the top layer--6 to 8 inches of soil area.
Sulfur or Aluminum Sulfate
Sulfur or aluminum sulfate lowers acid levels in soil area. Application of this fertilizer is similar to limestone application. According to Soil Nutrients Analysis Library, changes in soil pH levels occur in 6- to 9-month time spans after application. Soil pH does not change until the soil’s bacteria breaks it down. For this reason, sulfur mixed with clay or polysulfide mixed with water produce the quickest soil pH changes.
Decaying organic material is a common source of nitrogen fertilizer. Ornamental grasses, trees and lawns often require nitrogen fertilizer for optimum growth. However, all plants need nitrogen. Nitrogen is part of the photosynthesis process for plants to retain their green coloring and use nutrients.
Typically nitrogen fertilizers contain phosphorus and potassium. Three numbers appear on the fertilizer labels with the ratio of each ingredient. Different types of plants need different concentrations. For example, lawns need higher levels of all three due to leached soil nutrients and rapid growth. Non-flowering evergreens or small vegetable plants require lower levels of each component.