Choose the Right Fertilizer for Your Yard

Feed your yard plants with the right fertilizer to help them thrive

Right Fertilizer - Right Fertilizer Your Yard

You know that your vegetable garden and rose bushes need some extra nourishment, but how do you go about choosing the best fertilizer? This guide will teach you the keys to buying the best types of fertilizer whether for a container, your garden or your yard.

Types of Fertilizer

Before buying fertilizer, you must first do some research on the different types available.
There are two main forms of fertilizers: granular and liquid. Granular fertilizers are sprinkled around plants and worked into the soil. They usually take some time to break down and release their nutrients, so they are better used to improve soil before planting. Liquid fertilizers are water-soluble and are quickly and easily absorbed into a plant's root system or leaves for an immediate boost. However, they can be messier to deal with and must be reapplied more often than granular fertilizers.

Organic fertilizers come in both granular and liquid form and are made from natural ingredients. These have a slow release, meaning that the materials in these fertilizers must be broken down by soil microorganisms for the gradual release of nitrogen and other elements. Many national brands carry organic lines of fertilizer as their use become more popular.

Specialized Fertilizers

All-purpose fertilizer works is suitable for any flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs and houseplants that are housed in soil that is fairly balanced. However, there are a number of specialty fertilizers designed to address the needs of specific flower varieties and lawn problems.

Multi-Benefit Fertilizers

The newest lawn fertilizers combine nutrients that feed grass in critical growing seasons with additional ingredients that address other common lawn problems, from crabgrass prevention --often needed most in the North—to insect killers that eradicate pests that attack the lawn without harming the grass itself. There are even weed and feed products that work as post-emergents, killing off crabgrass that has already invaded the lawn while strengthening the grass so that it grows thicker and keeps the weeds from returning. 



Special fertilizers are available just for flowers. Many are water-soluble, which work especially well for annuals



Roses need more fertilizer than any other type of landscaping plant and thrive on regular feedings of slow-release fertilizers high in nitrogen.



Special fertilizers uniquely formulated for vegetables are often granular or controlled-release fertilizers that provide deep penetration into the soil where small amounts of the nutrients are released as water penetrates the soil.

Trees and Shrubs

Trees and Shrubs

Landscape foundation plants are often subject to more environmental stress than other types of outdoors plants including attacks from insects, deer and diseases. Since they are planted to age in place, feeding trees and shrubs well is crucial. This helps not only with growth but also gives them the inner resistance needed to stand up to their environment and persist over long periods of time.



Fertilizers designed for houseplants, also called "plant food," are typically available in granular or water-soluble forms such as crystals, liquid or spikes.



Every fertilizer features a three-number code on the packaging indicating the amount of its three primary ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Different plants and vegetables need varying concentrations of these nutrients and other elements.
For example, a fertilizer showing 12-6-8 on its package has 12 percent nitrogen, 6 percent phosphorus and 8 percent potassium. Depending upon the type of plant you are feeding and its growth stage, seek out fertilizers with the correct levels of nutrients to work best for the variety you are growing.

Fertilizer Nutrient Symbol Used For Examples



  • Improving plant vigor and
    promoting growth of young
    roots and shoots

Calcium benefits tomatoes by promoting plant growth and decreasing the potential for blossom-end rot



  • Regulating absorption of
    plant foods and helping
    seed formation

Magnesium helps distribute phosphorus throughout the plant for stronger roots and increased productivity



  • Green, leafy growth and plant
  • Blood meal fertilizers are
    applied to gardens lacking

Lawns need high levels of nitrogen because they are constantly growing new, green leaves



  • Strong roots, healthy fruit
    and seed formation;
    increases blooms

Flowers usually need a fertilizer high in phosphorus to encourage blooms



  • Vigorous growth and disease
    resistance, improving overall
    plant health and increasing
    cold hardiness

Winterizing fertilizer is high in potassium to improve cold hardiness in lawns



  • Maintaining dark green
    coloring; promotes vigorous
    plant growth

Azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons and blueberries require acidic soil so they do well with a fertilizer high in sulfur, magnesium and iron to encourage deep green leaf color

Application Tips

Regular feeding, about every six to eight weeks, will keep your lawn and garden well-supplied with nutrients. An evenly spaced system of feeding is most important for lawn grasses to keep the lawn in top health year round.

• Make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package label for best results.
• With granular fertilizers, measure out the required amount and sprinkle lightly around the root ball of the plant, mixing the fertilizer into the soil.
• Mix water-soluble fertilizers with water then apply using a watering can or sprayer. Apply to leaves or root ball as directed on packaging.
• Plant spikes should be inserted directly into the root ball of the plant.