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What are the 3 Numbers in Lawn Fertilizer

September 25, 2022

Pride In Turf is an Atlanta-based lawn fertilization and weed control company. Here is a post about the 3 numbers in lawn fertilizer and what they mean.

On all lawn fertilizer labels, you will see a combination of 3 numbers in various combinations. They may look like 10-10-10, 16-4-8, or many other combinations. These numbers are the NPK ratio and are very important in choosing the right fertilizer for your lawn. NPK stands for nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K).

What do the NPK Numbers Mean?

Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are your lawn's three most important nutrients. The NPK numbers give you the ratio or percentage of each of these nutrients the fertilizer contains. For example, a fertilizer with an NPK of 10-10-10 contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorous, and 10% potassium. Each of these nutrients has different benefits for your lawn, and the numbers for the fertilizer your lawn needs will depend on your lawn. 

How to Know What Numbers are Needed in your Fertilizer

 There are many fertilizers with a variety of NPK numbers with different percentages of each nutrient. A soil test can help determine what NPK to look for in your fertilizer. The soil test will tell you which nutrients your soil contains and which nutrients it lacks. If your soil test informs you that you do not have enough phosphorous in your lawn, you want a fertilizer with plenty of phosphorous. The same goes for other nutrients as well, such as a natural nitrogen fertilizer. Your soil test may also tell you how many pounds of the three nutrients your lawn needs.  

What Do the 3 Nutrients Do for your Lawn

The 3 nutrients (NPK) each have different benefits for your lawn and work together for a healthy lawn. The following gives you some of the main benefits of each nutrient needed in your lawn:

  • Nitrogen (N):  boosts fast growth and dark green color
  • Phosphorous (P):  encourages strong root growth
  • Potassium (K):  improves disease resistance and overall plant health

So, if your main goal is to make your lawn grow faster and greener, you will want a fertilizer with high nitrogen content. As seasons change, the nutrients your lawn needs will change as well.

NPK – Benefits of Each Nutrient

The NPK ratio in fertilizer varies from season to season. These changes are based on the nutrient requirements of your turfgrass for upcoming weather and expected temperatures over the next 6 – 12 weeks. The following table gives general information about the benefits of each of these important nutrients:

N - Nitrogen*Stimulates new root growth so early spring fertilizers may have higher nitrogen levels to get the grass growing quickly*Helps lawn recovers from environmental stress
P - Phosphorous*Critical in developing and strengthening healthy root systems, which keeps the lawn healthy throughout changing weather and stresses of the season*Involves in metabolic processes and transfer of energy throughout the plant
K - Potassium*Supports internal processes of plant cells, which affects photosynthesis, water absorption, respirations, and protein production.*A deficiency in potassium (K) weakens the plant and increases vulnerability to drought temperature fluctuation and disease


Hopefully, you have a better idea of what the NPK numbers mean when selecting a fertilizer for your lawn. However, it is confusing to know exactly which one is best for your lawn. You can get a soil sample through your local agricultural extension office if you want to find out the specifics of what your lawn needs. It is important to put the best fertilizer with the appropriate percentages of nutrients (NPK) to get the results you want for your beautiful lawn.

If you want to make sure your lawn is getting the best treatment, contact Pride In Turf for a professional and accurate opinion. They can take the work out of it for you and help you achieve what you want – and beautify a green and healthy lawn.

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