Choose the Right Fertilizer for Your Yard

Choosing the right fertilizer to make your plants and yard 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 to buy whether you need fertilizer for a container, your garden or yard.

Fertilizer Types, Application Tips & Nutrients

Before buying fertilizer, you must first do some research on the different types available. The three-number code on the fertilizer package indicates the amount of its three primary ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Different plants and vegetables need varying concentrations of these nutrients and other elements.

Fertilizer Types - Right Fertilizer Your Yard


There are three main types of fertilizers: organic, water-soluble and synthetic. Organic fertilizers are made from natural ingredients and 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.

Application Tips

Different types of plants need varying amounts of fertilizer, so make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package label for best results. Work organic fertilizers into the soil before you plant, then around your plants afterward. With granular fertilizers, measure out the required amount and sprinkle lightly around the bottom of the plant, mixing the fertilizer into the soil. Mix water-soluble fertilizers with water then apply using a watering can or sprayer


Every fertilizer package features three numbers that indicate the percentage of primary nutrients included in the fertilizer: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For example, a fertilizer showing 5-10-5 on its package has 5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus and 5 percent potassium. Depending upon the type of plant you are fertilizing and the growth stage of the plant, look for higher or lower levels of these chemicals

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

Best Fertilizer Features

Different fertilizers work best for the particular plant that they are best designed for.


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.


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


Spray liquid fertilizer on plant leaves or pour directly on root systems, depending upon the manufacturer's instructions. Because it is water soluble, liquid fertilizer is quickly and easily absorbed into a plant's root system for an immediate boost.

All-purpose fertilizers

All-purpose fertilizer works on all flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs and houseplants, and is appropriate for soil that is fairly balanced.