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May 1, 2022

Fertilizer Ratios: Which Is Best for Your Lawn Care Routine?

A bag of Gardenline fertilizer on a deck.

If you’re a newbie to lawn fertilizer, then the numbers listed on the bag may seem like a foreign language when heading down an aisle of gardening supplies.These three numbers are known as fertilizer ratios, and by understanding what each number means, you can improve the appearance and longevity of your lawn.

Fertilizer is great for helping strengthen roots and promote new growth year round. Taking care of your lawn is important because the grasses commonly used can purify air and improve overall air quality, in addition to the fact that a nicely manicured lawn is aesthetically pleasing. Grasses are great at absorbing rainfall, preventing erosion, and purifies water for aquifers in the area.

N-P-K and Lawn Care

Each of the three numbers listed on the front of the bag of fertilizer represents nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Together they are known as NPK ratios, and are indicated using their element symbols that you may remember from chemistry class. All three are essential elements in gardening products for growing a beautiful lawn.

 Each one serves a different purpose in ensuring your grass grows green.

  • Nitrogen (N): An essential element for plant growth, this element ensures your grass is plush and vibrant green. Without enough nitrogen, grass will turn a yellow-green tinge and will hardly grow.
  • Phosphorous (P): This element stimulates the grass at its roots. By having adequate phosphorus levels you ensure that your grass grows fast and without discoloration.
  • Potassium (K): A major component in guaranteeing your lawn will withstand the elements. Potassium strengthens each blade of grass to make it more resistant to any potential diseases, like browning or fungus. 

Which Ratio To Choose

NPK ratios apply to all types of fertilizer, but there are certain specifications to follow for lawns and all of the different conditions the lawn may be in.

A man mowing the lawn


  • New Lawn:For a new lawn, it’s important that both phosphorus and potassium be the larger percentage of the ratio. New lawns require more attention to the health of their roots, and of course strength in order to grow full and plush. Using ratios like these should be temporary because phosphorus ultimately leads to major environmental issues.
  • Existing Lawn: With an existing lawn, the roots are most likely strong and established. Because of this, the phosphorus and potassium levels don’t need to be quite as high as those needed for a new lawn. Nitrogen is cheaper in comparison to phosphorus and potassium as well, so fertilizer with this kind of ratio is not only best for your existing lawn care routine, but your wallet as well.
  • Strained Lawn: As mentioned before, potassium provides strength to your lawn. In extreme weather, a fertilizer with a high potassium percentage will help it to push through harsh weather conditions. Use a fertilizer with high potassium levels before the peak of summer heat, and winter freeze for best results.

Louie’s ACE Products for Lawn Care and Their Benefits

Our gardening experts suggest fertilizer should be put on your lawn two through four times a year.  Resistance from pests, protection for the soil, and preventing pesky weeds are just some of the perks when taking care of your lawn with fertilizer from ACE HardwareThe fertilization process is cost-effective, simple, and environmentally friendly. Because of how low-maintenance lawn care can be, you can spend more time doing plenty of other fun outdoor activities this summer!  

Here’s some of our ACE Hardware team’s top fertilizer recommendations:

Scotts Turf Builder Crabgrass Preventer Lawn Fertilizer For Multiple Grass Types


This fertilizer is one of our best selling options because it stops crabgrass at its roots and is safe for use on Bermuda grass. It’s a great fertilizer to use in post-winter lawn care routines, and is a trusted formula no matter what climate you live in.

Milorganite Slow Release Nitrogen Lawn Fertilizer for all Grasses:


Milorganite is produced from the nation’s oldest and largest recycling efforts. It’s fortified with iron for a longer lasting green. The slow-release formula can be used on trees, shrubs, or flowers as well.

Pennington Ultragreen All-Purpose Lawn Fertilizer: 


A quick greening, long lasting lawn is possible with Pennington and its premium blended fertilizer. With fast acting nitrogen for quick greening in addition to slow release nitrogen at 10.5% for extended feeding up to three months, the blend of fertilizer includes a boost of 5% iron.

Find the Best Gardening Products at Louie’s ACE Home Center

At ACE Hardware, you can be assured that our hardware and garden supplies are top notch and in stock. With plenty of fertilizer choices for every budget, lawn, and gardening style, you can’t go wrong with keeping your lawn healthy and happy.

Be sure to visit Louie’s ACE Home Center for all your lawn care questions and gardening supplies!