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Healthy turf: Contributing to a greener world

Presented by Garth Whyte
in Environment

Sponsored by Fertilizer Canada

Using fertilizer is simple, but it’s important to do so with care. By following a few simple steps this fall season, not only will you have a lawn that looks and feels great in the spring, but you will be contributing to a greener world.

Did you know that a healthy turf has a dramatic cooling effect, similar to air conditioning, compared to hard surfaces? It also acts as a water filtration system, reduces water run-off, and is a significant source of oxygen.

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To fertilize properly and achieve the benefits of a thick, healthy lawn, homeowners and turf management professionals should follow the 4Rs of fertilizer use: the Right Source at the Right Rate, the Right Time and the Right Place.

Fall and Spring Fertilizing

Plant roots tend to go dormant in the driest parts of summer and in winter, when the ground is frozen. So, it’s important to focus on fertilizing in the spring and fall when plants need nutrients the most and avoid applying fertilizer if heavy rain is expected, or if the ground is frozen.

Look for a fertilizer with higher nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), the first and last numbers on the bag. These are the nutrients that help promote a stronger root structure, disease resistance, and hardiness to not only withstand drought in hotter summer temperatures, but also survive the winter and bounce back in spring.

If in doubt, just read the bag!

After you are done fertilizing your lawn, store any leftover fertilizer sealed in its original container in a dry place for use next season or share it: give it to a neighbour or relative or donate it to a community group.

Like all living things, lawns need food to stay healthy. You can find more helpful information about the right way to fertilize your lawn before winter at

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Sarah Stadnyk’s article: Creating renewable energy opportunities for municipalities with organics diversion. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

Garth Whyte is President and CEO of Fertilizer Canada, joining the association in June 2015. Garth brings decades of industry association, advocacy, and government experience. He is currently a member of the Fertilizer Canada Board and is on the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute Advisory Committee.

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