The Yard Butler

Why Homeowners Need a Fertilizer Program for Their Lawn

At first glance, there may not seem to be much of a connection between the human body and grass. However, there are some interesting similarities that link the two. To start, both are complex organisms made of millions of cells. In addition, both the human body and grass have complex systems for transporting nutrients and waste products. In humans, there is the cardiovascular system that moves blood and nutrients throughout the body, and the lymphatic system that helps remove waste and protect the body from infection. In grass, similar systems work via a network of roots and stems that transport water and nutrients throughout the plant, and a system of pores on the leaves that allow for photosynthesis and the exchange of gasses like oxygen and carbon dioxide.

By now you are probably wondering, “Why am I reading this biology lesson in a blog post about fertilizer?” Because you need to understand that your lawn is a living, breathing thing, and it needs to be treated as such. Both the human body and grass need water to drink, air to breathe, and vital nutrients to absorb in order to stay strong, happy, and healthy; and just like your body, grass can be vulnerable to malnourishment, disease, and parasites when it isn’t receiving everything that it needs.

As nice as a uniform, spotless lawn looks, encouraging the growth of only one type of plant in an area can be detrimental to the soil. In a more natural setting, like a meadow in the mountains, different plants will take out varying levels of minerals and nutrients from the ground. Areas with a lot of biodiversity (variety in organic life) will have a soil that comes out more or less balanced because everything is being utilized, recycled, and put back into the earth by the wildlife. In a well-manicured lawn, grass is the only plant encouraged to grow. Grass will only take certain nutrients from the soil. Over time, the soil becomes drained of those nutrients while maintaining an excess of others causing an imbalance. If left alone, grass will grow weaker because it won’t have as much access to what it needs, opening the opportunity for weeds and other pests to move in and take advantage of the unused resources in the soil. 

This is why fertilizer is a key component to maintaining a strong, healthy lawn: it feeds vital nutrients to your grass by providing much needed minerals to the soil. A properly fertilized yard will keep your grass thick and healthy and by doing so, increase its resistance to weeds, pests, and disease.

What’s in Fertilizer?

Practically every fertilizer will at least contain a mixture of three primary ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. While other nutrients and chemicals may vary in different brands and solutions, these “big three” remain a vital part of an effective fertilizer. So, what is it that makes them so special?

Nitrogen is a critical nutrient for the growth and development of grass. It is a primary component of chlorophyll, which is the pigment that gives plants their green color and allows them to carry out photosynthesis, the process where plants get energy from the sun.

When grass has access to adequate nitrogen, it can grow more rapidly and produce more biomass, which can lead to a denser and healthier lawn. Nitrogen also helps to improve the color of grass, giving it a vibrant green hue.

Phosphorus is another essential nutrient for the growth and development of grass. It plays a vital role in many of the processes that occur within the plant.

One of the most important roles of phosphorus in grass is its involvement in root growth and development. Phosphorus helps to stimulate root growth, which is important for establishing a strong and healthy lawn. It also plays a key role in the transfer and storage of energy within the plant, which is critical for maintaining overall plant health.

Phosphorus also helps grass to develop strong, sturdy stems and leaves. It plays a role in the formation of cell walls, which provides support and structure to the plant. This can help the grass to withstand environmental stresses, such as drought and disease.

Potassium is another essential nutrient for the growth and development of grass. It plays a variety of important roles in plant physiology, including regulating water balance, promoting root growth, and improving stress tolerance.

One of the most important functions of potassium in grass is its ability to regulate water balance within the plant. Potassium helps to open and close the small pores on the surface of the leaves that allow for gas exchange and water vapor loss. This helps to regulate water uptake which is critical for maintaining healthy grass, especially in times of drought.

Just like phosphorus, potassium also plays a key role in promoting root growth and development. It helps to improve the strength and resilience of roots, which can help grass withstand environmental stresses and maintain a healthy and vibrant lawn.

In addition, potassium helps to improve stress tolerance in grass. It can help grass to resist damage from pests, diseases, and other environmental stressors, such as extreme temperatures or salt buildup in the soil.

Benefits of Fertilizer

Pest Control:

Lawn fertilizers are primarily designed to promote healthy grass growth by providing essential nutrients (like the three we just went over). While they do not always directly work against weeds and other pests, a healthy lawn is more resistant to pest infestations and recover more quickly from any damage they cause. Once again, consider the human body. When you are well-fed on a balanced diet, your immune system is more efficient at fighting off potential viruses and infections. When grass can grow dense with strong roots that can spread deep into the ground, it is much more efficient at crowding out weeds and parasites.

Some fertilizers may also contain ingredients that can help deter or control pests. For example, some lawn fertilizers may include insecticides or herbicides that target specific pests or weeds. However, it’s important to note that these types of fertilizers are not always effective against all pests and may have negative effects on beneficial insects and other organisms.

Increases Disease Resistance:

Winters in eastern Idaho are typically severe and can be very unpredictable. Your grass has to suffer through giant snow piles left by plows, rapid thaws followed by heavy snow storms, and extreme temperatures for months at a time. This wreaks havoc on your yard. One disease that takes advantage of the chaotic nature of an Idaho winter is snow mold. You’ve probably already seen snow mold without even knowing it. It is a fungal disease that occurs when snow or ice covers the grass for an extended period of time. This fungus grows over dormant grass as temperatures rise and snow begins to melt. Its most identifiable trait is the circular, matted-down, dead areas that it leaves in your lawn. These patches will have a grey or pink tint and usually have a visible network of fuzzy tendrils. 


Without fertilization and regular mowing, snow mold will not go away without a fight and will likely cause even more damage to your lawn. In the same way that a strong, fertilized lawn will crowd out pests, it will be more capable of resisting disease and recovering from seasonal blights like snow mold.


While fertilizer is a great commodity, it is still something that needs to be utilized responsibly. Different soils require different ratios of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Too much nitrogen can be harmful to grass, as it can lead to excessive growth and weak, disease-prone plants. Too much phosphorus can lead to the runoff of excess nutrients into waterways, which can harm aquatic ecosystems. As with nitrogen and phosphorus, it is important to use fertilizers that provide the right amount of potassium for your specific type of grass and growing conditions. Too much potassium can lead to imbalances in other nutrients and may cause harm to the lawn.


Healthy lawns should be fertilized at least five times a year. It can be a pain trying to properly schedule the right time to fertilize your grass and do it in a way that won’t lead to environmental harm. This is why we recommend coming to The Yard Butler. We offer a Fertilizer and Weed Control Program where we take care of all your lawn fertilization needs at the times where your lawn needs it the most. Our fertilizer program is applied with either slow-release liquid or granular fertilizer, depending on the circumstances, which will give your lawn the nutrients it needs to become a thick and healthy lawn. We also offer a Deep Root Fertilizer service for your trees and shrubs where the fertilizer is injected into the soil. There, the roots soak up the nutrients to keep your larger plants looking happy and healthy alongside your vibrant lawn. 

Take pride in your yard and contact us today for a free estimate!