A well cared for lawn is an object of pride for many homeowners. Having a luscious, green yard is something that nearly everyone dreams of. One important step to that goal that many people neglect is fertilizing. A picture worthy yard doesn’t just appear on its own, and takes some input from the owner. Luckily, the process is pretty simple, and once you know what you’re doing you’ll be well on your way to the lawn of your dreams. We’ll also take a look at some of the most common questions and issues to give you a leg up on your neighbors.
When Should I Fertilize?
In most cases, you’ll want to start fertilizing in late spring, around mid April when the temperature is starting to peak around 60-75. In colder climates, this is when grass will grow again after its dormancy in the winter. This is a similar timeline for warm season grass as well, although typically the temperatures will be higher at this time in the year.
After the first fertilization, you’ll want to do so again every 4-6 weeks until the fall. Generally, your last feeding of the season will take place in late September. This is important as grass will continue to grow up until this time, and extra nutrients now can help prepare them for the winter.
What About Slow Release Fertilizer?
The only catch to the above advice comes with slow release fertilizer. If you’re using one of these types, you’ll be able to wait up to 8 weeks between feedings. This can help lessen the load, and will usually mean a few less feedings during the growing season. Keep in mind, you’ll still want to feed out into the fall still. You also don’t want to do more than this as grass can only absorb so much nutrients, the rest will be wasted.
What Type Of Fertilizer Should I Buy?
When buying fertilizer, you’ll usually see 3 numbers like 20-10-10 which shows the composition of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium. These are the 3 key nutrients needed for a healthy lawn. For a regular spring feeding, look for a mixture around 20-5-10, this is a good, generic mix that will fit most situations.
Do keep in mind though that there are other mixtures available that are made for specific issues. Certain mixtures are better at keeping weeds at bay, so if you do have lawn problems it pays to do a little research and choose an appropriate fertilizer.
What Time Should I Fertilize?
The best time to fertilize is early morning or in the afternoon; both avoid the hottest temperatures of the day. It’s also a good idea to mow directly before fertilizing your lawn.
You also want to make sure that you don’t fertilize before heavy rains. Rains will wash away the nutrients, and prevent your grass from absorbing them. Always check that you’ll have at least 12+ hours before it rains whenever you go to feralize. It’s better to wait an extra day than fertilize right before a storm.
I’m Fertilizing, But My Grass Still Looks Bad/Dead?
In many cases this is not a fertilization issue but stems from elsewhere. The biggest is probably lack of water. Even if you’re religious in your fertilization schedule it won’t mean anything if your plants aren’t getting enough water.
Also, make sure that you’re applying the fertilizer evenly. If you notice certain parts of your lawn look better than others take extra care that it’s not accidently getting extra fertilizer.
Lastly, keep an eye out for other issues that might be damaging your lawn. Things like clovers for example can be made worse with fertilizer, and end up looking unsightly on your lawn. If you’re contenting with invaders like this or other weeds consider using a fertilizer specially formulated to combat their growth. There are many kinds out there designed to help grass grow while choking out popular weeds.
Should I Fertilize In Fall?
As noted above yes you should. This can help give your grass extra nutrients to help it stay strong during the winter.
Generally, you’ll want to do your last feeding a few weeks before the ground freezes or before the grass goes dormant for the winter. This will put it sometime in late September to Early October depending on your location.
Once the ground freezes though there’s no point to feeding any longer as the nutrients will not be absorbed. If you miss this period you’ll have to wait until next spring before feeding again.
Just One Part of Lawn Care
At the end of the day fertilization is just one part of a healthy lawn care routine. Make sure to follow proper watering and maintenance to help ensure a healthy lawn. A beautiful lawn is well worth the effort.