If you’re lucky enough to have a beautiful, sprawling lawn around your property, you’ll want to become familiar with 15-0-15 fertilizer. This is especially true if you’re growing a warm-season, perennial turf variety. Even if you have just a small patch of grass growing alongside your home, this type of fertilizer can help keep it healthy and lush.
A 15-0-15 fertilizer contains generous amounts of nitrogen and potassium but zero phosphorus. An appropriate dose of this formula will promote healthy blade formation and color, a strong root system, and an increased tolerance against disease and environmental stresses. But it may not be beneficial for every lawn type.
In this article, I break down the why and how of using 15-0-15 fertilizer and offer some expert advice on getting the most from a phosphorus-free formula.
- Understanding Fertilizer Labels
- What Is 15-0-15 Fertilizer Used For?
- When To Use 15-0-15 Fertilizer
- How To Use 15-0-15 Fertilizer for Lawns
- 15-0-15 Fertilizers Reviewed
- Simple Lawn Solutions | Nitrogen & Potash 15-0-15
- PetraTools | Fertilizer for Lawns, Grass and Plants 15-0-15
- Final Thoughts On 15-0-15 Fertilizer
Understanding Fertilizer Labels
Every fertilizer label is required by law to list its contents in detail. The typical fertilizer label includes the NPK ratio, any incorporated micronutrients and trace elements, and any fillers that are included to support the distribution of nutrients.
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The NPK ratio indicates the fertilizer’s proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In this case 15-0-15 means 15% nitrogen, 0% phosphorus, and 15% potassium.
With the above NPK ratio making up 30% of the total fertilizer, the remaining 70% will consist of micronutrients and filler ingredients. Micronutrients can include elements like iron, manganese, and zinc.
But what are all these nutrients going to do for your lawn? How do they keep it healthy? Let’s take a closer look at each macronutrient.
Nitrogen is the primary driving force behind healthy blade growth and vibrant color in lawns. It works by stimulating chlorophyll production, an essential component of the photosynthesis process. If a low-nitrogen fertilizer is applied to your lawn, stunted growth and faded color may result.
In cool-season turfs like Kentucky bluegrass and fescue, phosphorus also plays a large role in the photosynthesis process. It supports robust root establishment in new sod or germinated seedlings.
Potassium is what paves the way for healthy water and nutrient uptake. It also promotes strong cell wall formation in each blade through the synthesizing of proteins and starches. This combination of processes creates a lawn that is strong and tolerant against disease, drought, heat, and cold.
Why Use a Zero-Phosphorus Fertilizer?
Testing the soil with a pH soil test kit will indicate its current phosphorus content. This is important because high phosphorus levels could lead to your lawn growing poorly or even dying. Excess phosphorus greatly reduces nutrient absorption and stunts photosynthesis.
According to the EPA, phosphorus is a major contributor to algae blooms that occur when fertilizers wash into nearby lakes, ponds, and other water sources. Some areas ban the use of phosphorus-containing fertilizers altogether for this reason.
What Is 15-0-15 Fertilizer Used For?
This dynamic combination of nitrogen and potassium will support your lawn from every angle. At the cellular level, these nutrients increase strength and vitality. In turn, your lawn will be better able to hold up against things like foot traffic and weather damage.
Some 15-0-15 feeds are even effective under low-light conditions, making them the perfect choice for lawns in regions with shorter growing seasons and shorter days.
Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs growing in fertilized lawns may show signs of nutrient deficiencies as they compete with the lawn for nourishment. In this case, extra doses of a 15-0-15 around the bases will balance out their needs while avoiding soil and water source contamination.
Nitrogen and potassium promote vigorous vegetative growth, flowering, and fruit set throughout the growing season. Just keep in mind that some vegetables benefit from a solid dose of phosphorus at specific stages of growth.
This is the one area where a 15-0-15 is not recommended. Houseplants require a balanced NPK to thrive, like a 10-10-10 or a 5-10-5 formula. The lack of phosphorus in a 15-0-15 blend could lead to stunted growth, a vulnerability to pests and disease, and yellowing or wilting leaves.
Lawn and Grass
A 15-0-15 fertilizer can benefit any type of grass that is grown in poor soil but is most effective when applied to warm-season grasses like Bermuda or St. Augustine. So you’ll want to do a little research into the type of grass you have and what it needs before investing in a phosphorus-free blend.
Here’s a quick summary of the most popular turf grass types and their nutritional needs:
- Bermuda performs best when fertilized in three equally-spaced intervals between May and August.
- Bluegrass utilizes below-surface rhizomes to grow and spread, thus needing more phosphorus to encourage rhizome multiplication and growth.
- Buffalo grass doesn’t require as much nitrogen as other varieties. A more balanced fertilizer would best support its needs.
- Centipede is a warm-season grass that can greatly benefit from a 15-0-15 fertilizer. Phosphorus should only be applied if the soil is completely lacking it.
- Palmetto is a sub-variety of St. Augustine. This grass only needs phosphorus when sod is first installed or when new seeds have just germinated. Once established, it will benefit from a 15-0-15 mix.
- St. Augustine is a warm-season perennial that only needs phosphorus when the soil is completely deficient or when new sod is installed.
- Zoysia grass thrives on even higher nitrogen levels than Bermuda. But both grass types share the same application schedule.
What Nutrients Does A Lawn Need?
Not all lawns are created equal. Cold-season varieties like bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue all require a decent balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in order to thrive.
Warm-season types, on the other hand, don’t always need additional phosphorus. This makes a 15-0-15 NPK ratio ideal for them.
When To Use 15-0-15 Fertilizer
When applied at the proper time and at the right dosage, a 15-0-15 fertilizer can greatly improve your lawn’s performance and vitality. Applying too much, not enough, or at the wrong time may cause damage. Let’s break down some recommended application times by season:
In both cold and warm climates, spring is the best time to apply a 15-0-15 fertilizer. As your grass wakes from winter dormancy, it will also be the most receptive to added nourishment and soil conditioning. In warm climates, feeding in March or April is recommended. In colder regions, April or May is best.
Bermuda, zoysia, and centipede grass, along with other warm-season grasses, grow more vigorously in summer. These grass types may consume all of the nitrogen and potassium naturally present in the soil and from spring fertilizing to support summer growth. To continue healthy, vibrant growth into autumn, a second application may be necessary in July or August.
Nitrogen-heavy fertilizers should be applied no later than August because, in most regions, lawns will go at least partially dormant toward the middle of autumn. Your lawn’s internal processes for nutrient absorption and distribution slow way down or stop altogether as outside temperatures drop. Excessive nitrogen applied within its dormancy stage may cause irreparable root damage.
Fertilizing is not necessary for winter, no matter your climate. Even in warmer areas, outside temperatures still drop enough to trigger a partial dormancy state. It’s a simple survival mechanism that maintains your lawn’s ‘vital signs’ until the weather warms up — at which time, your fertilizing regimen can begin again.
How To Use 15-0-15 Fertilizer for Lawns
You can purchase 15-0-15 fertilizer as either a slow-release, dry formula that is distributed across your lawn using a push spreader or as a liquid concentrate that is applied using a hose attachment.
Each brand will come with its own unique set of instructions based on formulation and application method. It’s important to follow these directions for optimum results. I’ll be sharing two of the best liquid formulas I’ve tested in the next section.
Application Rate for Lawns
Application rates will vary based on formulation. Slow-release formulas may only recommend one application for the whole season as nutrients are conveyed to the roots with every watering or period of rainfall. Liquid formulas will need to be applied 2 to 3 times per season for consistent results.
How Often To Use 15-0-15
When using a liquid concentrate or premixed formula, application times should be evenly spaced so as not to dry out or damage your lawn. Most formulas perform best when applied in spring and mid-summer. In poor soils, a third may be applied no later than the end of August.
15-0-15 Fertilizers Reviewed
I know that product testing and review research takes time, effort, and money. So I’ve done some extensive testing of my own, including consumer feedback from across the lawn care spectrum. For your convenience, here are the two liquid fertilizers that came out on top in terms of performance and ease of use and are specifically for lush, beautiful warm-season lawn varieties.
This ready-to-use option comes pre-diluted with added sulfur to lower pH levels if needed, enabling better nutrient absorption. I simply attached this to my hose and walked back and forth, spraying evenly — just as you would when watering.
This formula had a surprising effect on some emerging weed patches I had. Weeds don’t like high levels of nitrogen, so those went away rather quickly.
One bottle covers 1,600 sq ft, which took care of my entire front lawn. I found this formula to be pretty economical. It starts working within 8 hours but it may take up to a week for full effects to be visible.
How To Use: Apply this in the cooler hours of the morning so as not to burn grass blades. Refrain from watering your lawn again for a couple of days after application. Also, wait to apply any kind of herbicide right after fertilizing. Doing so may have a detrimental effect.
Customer Reviews: Received high marks from consumers trying to grow warm-season lawns in poor conditions. Improved soil quality and transformed their lawns into lush, green sod.
- Added sulfur to balance pH levels
- High nitrogen content acts as a secondary herbicide
- Not recommended for new sod or newly germinated seedlings
This maximum-strength liquid concentrate offers an NPK ratio that’s free of phosphorus yet fortified with humic acid for robust growth and root formation in warm-season turf. I can see how this would be ideal for harsh southern summers but it has also proven to work really well in our northern climate too. One jug covered 4 acres of grassy space and, best yet, this product is safe enough for all of the kid and pet activity we can throw at it.
How To Use: Mix 5oz of this easy-to-use lawn booster into 4 liters (1 gallon) of water for maintenance. Or 10oz per 4 liters (1 gallon) for application in more challenging areas. Repeat every 14 days throughout the growing season.
Customer Reviews: Homeowners share how pleased they are with the great results, especially when trying to grow lawns in desert regions.
- Added humic acid, essential for healthy growth
- Great value for money
- Not for use in nitrogen-rich soil
Final Thoughts On 15-0-15 Fertilizer
In my experience, there’s no better fertilizer to use on a warm-season lawn than a 15-0-15 formula. With either a slow-release method or one of the two liquid options I recommend, you’ll be providing the nitrogen and potassium that your lawn craves without the risk of burn or water source contamination that often comes with excessive phosphorus use.
Even if you live in a harsh winter climate, summers can still get quite warm. For success, a 15-0-15 fertilizer is your best bet.