Fertilisers are often treated like a cure-all for any garden issue. Lawn browning from high traffic? Fertilise it. Veggie patch looking a little sad? Fertilise it. Roses aren’t flowering? Have you thought about a fertiliser?
But the term “fertiliser” covers a wide range of products. At its most basic, a fertiliser serves to deliver nutrients to the soil that otherwise wouldn’t naturally be present. But the nutrients it delivers, and the method with which it delivers them, can vary greatly.
Quick Release vs Slow Release
As far as the delivery method is concerned, most fertilisers can be divided into two camps; quick release and slow (or controlled) release. A quick release fertiliser will offer your garden an instantly available nutrient hit, but will only last a short while. Quick release fertilisers are often applied in a liquid form, and dissolve into the soil almost instantaneously.
Slow release, on the other hand, are more measured in their nutrient delivery. They are more often applied as a solid, in the form of granules or organic matter, and are broken down into the soil over time. This offers your garden a more consistent and long lasting injection of nutrients, but without the same intensity as a quick release fertiliser.
So why choose a slow release over a quick release fertiliser? Here are a few reasons why it may be worth trying life in the slow lane.
The Advantages of Slow Release
No burns: The intensity of quick release fertilisers can prove to be a little too much for many plants, particularly if the fertiliser isn’t carefully applied. Plants can be burnt by the salts in a heavy dose of quick release fertiliser, and a bad application can do more harm than good. In comparison, it’s impossible to burn your plants or grass with slow release fertiliser.
Consistent growth: Applying a quick release fertiliser usually results in explosive growth for a week or two before dying off markedly again. This growth pattern doesn’t give the plant a chance to gain strength, or develop its root system. A slow release fertiliser promotes strong, steady growth, which will result in the root system developing properly and the plant strengthening itself in the long term.
Less disease: A welcome consequence of a strong, steadily growing garden that comes from the use of a slow release fertiliser is the fact that your plants will be far more resistant to disease. In this respect a quick release fertiliser can actually make a plant weaker, as it focuses all of its energy on quick growth rather than long term strength.
Less work: One application of slow release fertiliser can last your garden months. You’ll never get more than a few weeks out of a dose of quick release fertiliser, at which point you may need to apply another. From a pure labour standpoint a slow release fertiliser is the smart choice.
Greener lawn: Nitrogen is a key ingredient in most slow release fertilisers, and is the nutrient that is largely responsible for the greenery of your lawn. A nitrogen-heavy slow release fertiliser will result in a dense, deep-green mat of grass that will make your front yard the envy of all your neighbours. All your lawn should need is a good dose in spring, and another in autumn.
While quick release fertilisers certainly serve a purpose – they’re great at getting a tired looking lawn, veggie patch or flower bed to quickly bounce back – slow release fertilisers are the far wiser choice for general use. They promote solid, steady and consistent growth, and your garden will be all the better for their use in the long run.
If you’ve got any further queries on whether a slow release fertiliser is the right choice for you, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at McKays.