Nitrogen is the most needed and most limited source of plant nutrition.
Nitrogen fertilizer comes in many forms. The cheapest form of nitrogen is Urea. Urea is extremely "hot" as it usually is a 46% formulation. The problem is that this type of fast release fertilizer can easily burn your lawn to a crisp if applied incorrectly. The other problem is that this raw form of nitrogen makes grass grow like a weed and quickly goes away. Most lawn fertilizers are a blend of fast and slow release nitrogen. This blend gives more time in between applications.
Depending on the type of fertilizer used, turf grass needs an average of 4 pounds of nitrogen (N) per 1000 sq ft per growing season. This can be divided up into 4 applications at 1 pound of N per 1000 sq ft, or it can be divided into 8 applications at 1/2 pound of N per 1000 sq ft.
There are true organic forms of fertilizers. These products are very low in actual nitrogen and have to be applied at very heavy rates in order to supply the correct amount of nitrogen.
All forms of fertilizer, either organic or conventional, have to be broken down by soil microbes before they can be absorbed by plants. A common misbelief is that Organic fertilizers are better for the soil. Organic fertilizer (unless it's manure) is not Organic Matter. Yes, incorporating organic matter in the soil while preparing for a new lawn is quite beneficial. Sprinkling organic fertilizer on the lawn does nothing to improve the condition of the soil. It still has to be broken down before it can be used.
Because you have to use more product to get the same amount of nitrogen... the cost is high.
At Jones Tree & Lawn, Inc. we use Programmed Release Fertilizer products which slowly release nutrients to the lawn. It doesn't burn the lawn. It doesn't leach into ground water or volatilize into the air. Each application lasts 6-8 weeks. If you are fed up with dealing with rusty fertilizer spreaders, lugging heavy bags of fertilizer from the store, burn spots and strange yellow stripes in the lawn, then give yourself a break. Hire us to do the technical care for your lawn and enjoy your summer and your lawn!