Between the December freeze and the ongoing drought since the fall of 2022, we’ve observed immense stress on plants, leaving them weakened and vulnerable. Turfgrass, in particular, has suffered from a combination of factors that exacerbate the damage caused by the drought. Poor soil structure, elevated salt levels, localized dry spots, high soil temperatures, reduced root systems, and fungicide deficiencies are just a few of the contributing elements. However, with the regular use of Nature Safe fertilizers as part of a comprehensive turf program, these problems can be alleviated, resulting in healthier, more resilient plants.

Strengthening Soil Microorganisms

Nature Safe fertilizers have proven to be highly effective in boosting populations of beneficial soil microorganisms while simultaneously reducing the presence of pathogenic organisms. This crucial aspect of soil health optimization enhances the overall efficiency of fungicides and other soil treatments. By using Nature Safe, you can amplify the positive impact of your existing practices, leading to more robust and stress-tolerant plants.

Revitalizing Photosynthesis

During periods of sustained drought, turfgrass experiences a slowdown in its photosynthetic rate, meaning it produces less food to sustain itself. However, Nature Safe fertilizers can significantly increase the photosynthetic rate of plants, even under high heat and drought conditions. 

The beneficial soil microbes present in Nature Safe release carbon dioxide, which plants utilize for enhanced photosynthesis. This enables plants to produce more food, even at reduced levels, thereby sustaining themselves during challenging times. Furthermore, the thicker and denser turf resulting from Nature Safe applications acts as a protective shield, preventing the sun’s rays from reaching the soil and excessively raising soil temperatures. Cooler soil promotes superior root systems, leading to the development of healthier and more resilient plants.

Application Recommendations

To maximize the benefits of Nature Safe fertilizers for turfgrass, follow these application guidelines:

  1. Initial Application: Apply Nature Safe 18-0-2 w/ Armament at a rate of ½ lb of N (3 bags) per acre. Alternatively, Nature Safe 10-2-8 at a rate of ¾ lb of N (7 bags) per acre per application is an excellent choice. A third good option is Nature Safe 21-3-7 at a rate of ½ lb of N (2 bags) per acre. Apply Nature Safe to thin spots in the turf as soon as possible to slow down thinning, promote new rooting, and improve overall turf density and appearance.
  2. Late Fall or Early Winter Application: Administer another application of Nature Safe as a dormant feed, ensuring the turf receives adequate nutrition during the dormant period.
  3. Early Summer Application: Apply Nature Safe after transitioning from the dormant period in early summer. This application supports the turf’s energy levels and provides essential plant food as it copes with stress.
  4. Overseeding: One week prior to overseeding, apply Nature Safe to facilitate the establishment of new grass. Use Nature Safe 10-2-8 or 8-3-5 at a rate of ½ lb to ¾ lb of N per 1,000 sq. ft. This strategy not only aids in the successful germination of the overseeded areas but also ensures the dominant turf possesses sufficient energy and nutrients to withstand stress and transition effectively in the spring.

The prolonged drought has presented numerous challenges to turf health, but with the regular use of Nature Safe fertilizers, you can mitigate the negative impacts. By promoting the growth of beneficial soil microorganisms, increasing photosynthetic rates, and fortifying root systems, Nature Safe helps turf withstand the combined effects of drought, salt levels, and other stressors. Incorporating Nature Safe into your turf care program will yield cumulative benefits.

Chuck McKenna
Nature Safe Regional Sales Manager