Nitrogen is essential for grass just as oxygen is essential for humans to grow and survive. For a green, flourishing lawn, your grass needs an adequate proportion of nutrients.
Nitrogen is among the three vital nutrients your lawn requires in significant quantities; others are potassium and phosphorus. Our grass receives nitrogen through the fertilizers we apply. Nitrogen and other plant nutrients assist the grass in preventing weeds, insects, and disease successfully.
Note that the three mentioned nutrients are not the only nutrients that our plants need. There are about 17 basic nutrients that are necessary for optimal growth of your grasses. Nitrogen is basically deemed the essential nutrient for soil quality, as it aids the formation of proteins.
Perhaps your lawn is currently looking faded in unhealthy yellowish color, or it is covered in weeds; nitrogen is precisely what is required to restore the dense and dark green blades of healthy grass. A healthy lawn has limited chances of getting overrun by weeds and diseases.
What is Nitrogen?
Nitrogen or “N” is one of nature’s most distributed gas, and it makes up to 78% of the earth’s atmosphere. It is a necessary plant nutrient which comprises of vital elements of several biological molecules, including amino acids, chlorophyll, co-enzymes, nucleic acids, and proteins.
Nitrogen is crucial for plant growth and is absorbed from the soil through the grass root system. Though if not properly applied, nitrogen can lead to the burning of lawn and/or leaching out of the root zone. It is therefore recommended that when using nitrogen, the grasses receive only the adequate proportion required and at the appropriate time.
Plants take in nitrogen gas in the air through a process called the nitrogen cycle. Still, nitrogen when combined with ammonium or urea to produce nitrogen fertilizers which are also applied to plants.
As stated earlier, nitrogen is considered the most critical nutrient for healthy grass; it is responsible for the green coloring of your lawn.
How does Nitrogen assist Your Grass?
- Nitrogen is responsible for the green color of your grass. An appealing lawn is one whose grass is green, dense and luscious. Nitrogen supplies your grass with chlorophyll, which produces green and healthy grass.
- Nitrogen comprises of several biological molecules, including amino acids that make up the building blocks of proteins. Proteins sustain grass health by functioning as structural units in the plant cell and serving as the building blocks of enzymes which make biochemical reactions possible.
- Nitrogen, when applied in spring, helps your grass recover from climatic stresses and injury brought about by the cold season. Nitrogen stimulates shoot growth, which in turn stimulates root growth. Again, the application of nitrogen in spring and throughout the growing season will enable your grass to combat the stresses of the summer season.
- Another component of nitrogen is nucleic acids. It is the genetic material that transfers genetic information to subsequent generations of grass to grow and reproduce.
- As nitrogen guarantees a healthy lawn, the chances of your lawn being overrun by weeds and disease are limited.
- Chlorophyll, a component of nitrogen, asides producing the green pigment in plants, is also needed for photosynthesis, the process of utilizing the sun’s energy to produce sugars from water and carbon dioxide.
- Nitrogen aids in faster growth of grasses.
How to Discern a Nitrogen-Deficient
You can easily discern the lack of nitrogen on your grass when the following occurs;
- Grass lacking nitrogen grows slower than usual.
- A deficiency in photosynthesis, the process of producing sugar from water and carbon dioxide, leads to low food production and, subsequently, to pale green patches of unhealthy grass.
- Without nitrogen, the grass root system weakens, causing the blades of grass to yellow or whither.
- Lack of nitrogen leads to reduced resistance to foot traffic and other stresses, resulting in slower grass recovery.
- It also leads to a decreased tolerance to climatic stresses like high temperatures, drought, and cold temperatures.
- The scarcity of nitrogen causes thin and weak patches of grasses that weed invasion.
- Lawn diseases such as red thread, crown rust, dollar spot, etc., thrive on a nitrogen-deficient lawn.
- Lawn density decrease as a result of low nitrogen, causing runoff water to pool and then gradually evaporate.
- Another way to discern nitrogen deficiency is to check the grass clippings each time you mow; fewer clippings after mowing might be an indication that the grass is thinning due to a low supply of nitrogen.
- Ultimately, compare your grass with other healthy lawns in the area to judge the soil quality of your lawn.
Signs That Your Lawn Has Too Much Nitrogen
Even though nitrogen is very vital in enhancing a plant’s growth, excess nitrogen is also harmful to its health. However, too much nitrogen isn’t a frequent occurrence unless you’ve overfertilized with a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.
It is therefore advised that when buying a nitrogen fertilizer, understand the ratio of fast to slow release of nitrogen. And apply the adequate proportion and the appropriate time. Below are some damages that could happen to your grasses when excess nitrogen is applied;
- Excess nitrogen from quick-release often leads to the burning of lawn by scorching the tissues, leading to substantial dead patches of grass. Slow-release nitrogen neutralizes this risk of burning, as it slowly releases nitrogen into the soil over the space of weeks, not hours.
- Surplus nitrogen causes unhealthy grass; when excess nitrogen is applied, the grass to grow very quickly and fuller, due to fast release sources. However, the fuller grass often has a short life span, and their growth takes nutrients away from the roots. With a weaker root system, the grass seldom remains healthy and green.
- Too much nitrogen causes leaching out of the grass root zones.
Slow-Release vs. Quick-Release Nitrogen Fertilizers
From the impediments mentioned above of excess nitrogen, you must have concluded that slow-release nitrogen is the best method for nitrogen application. You’re probably right, and the slow-release nitrogen gives many benefits ranging from;
- Denser growth – applying nitrogen during the active growing season enables thicker growth, as well as a healthy lawn throughout the year.
- Less risk of salt burn – the use of a slow-release fertilizer helps to prevent salt burn. When the turf receives too much nitrogen, the overdose may kill the lawn. There is a reduced probability of this happening with the delayed-release.
- Less risk of fungal growth – the quicker growth caused by quick-release nitrogen has the chances of increasing the risk of fungal growth in humid regions, especially if the length of the grass becomes uncontrollable.
Quick-release nitrogen might sound like a horrible idea, but it also has its benefits;
- Quick-release nitrogen is more cost-effective
- With the liquid quick-release nitrogen, nitrogen deficiency is dealt with faster, and the health of your grass restored quickly.
- The rate at which you have to water your lawn is reduced with quick-release nitrogen. The quick-release fertilizers are also water-soluble. And their moisture helps speed the absorption of nutrients. The nitrogen starts working once applied, without waiting for when you’ll water the lawn.
Does nitrogen make grass green? The answer is yes, nitrogen does make grass green. It is an essential nutrient in every plant’s life and is required in the right proportion for a green and healthy lawn.
Always lookout for signs of nitrogen deficiency in your lawn and take to solve this problem. Plants receive nitrogen from the atmosphere through a process called the nitrogen cycle. Still, for the adequate supply of nitrogen, it is recommended that you apply nitrogen through nitrogen-based fertilizers.
Another recommendation is to apply nitrogen using either slow-release or controlled-release fertilizers. This will help reduce the excess application of nitrogen.
In conclusion, understand that to achieve a lovely and colorful lawn, you must ensure that your grass doesn’t lack nitrogen at the right rate and time.