Taking the first steps towards cultivating a healthier lawn isn’t as difficult as it seems. With a little bit of research and some strategic planning, you’re already ahead of most weekend lawn warriors.
Before jumping into a regular program you should understand which season is best to start fertilizing for your type of grass.
So how do you know just when and how often you should give your turf a nutrient boost? The good news is that it’s probably simpler than you think.
Climate Matters – Warm and Cool Season Grasses
If your lawn is looking a bit brown or patchy, your first instinct might be to grab a few bags of fast-acting fertilizer and give it a boost. Fertilizer isn’t a bandage, it’s more like a multivitamin. The key is to give your lawn the nutrients it needs when it needs them so it can grow and stay healthy.
Checking your soil’s nutrient and pH levels is always a surefire way to help you understand exactly what your lawn is craving.
Generally, you want to start fertilizing your lawn at the beginning of the growing season as this establishes strong roots and blades. Because warm and cool season grasses grow at different times, your fertilizing window differs depending on where you live and the type of grass you have growing.
Warm Season Grasses
Warm season grasses thrive in warmer climates. In the U.S. that means they are primarily found in the southern half of the country. Some commonly seen varieties include St. Augustine, Bermudagrass, Zoysia, and Bahiagrass.
These grasses really hit their stride when the weather begins to warm up. It’s recommended to start fertilizing during the late spring or early summer right when the grass is starting to grow more rapidly. Choose a balanced fertilizer that will encourage healthy roots. This will give your turf the nutrients it needs to power through its heavy-growth season.
Cool Season Grasses
Cool season grasses are at their best in cooler weather and they thrive all across the northern part of the country. In areas where winter brings a lot of snow, these lawns will simply go dormant. They can stay green year-round in areas like the Pacific Northwest where temps stay relatively mild. Fall and spring are when these types of grasses are at the peak of their growing season.
Some types of cool season grasses are Kentucky Bluegrass, fescue and bentgrass.
Early spring and early autumn are great times to start to feed your lawn if you have a cool season grass. If you live where winter is a bit of a beast, wait until you see the spring growth starting before you fertilize. By fertilizing during these times you’ll give it what it needs to grow strong enough to survive the heat of summer and the long, dormant months of winter.
What if I missed the beginning of the growing season?
Not a problem here, you’ll just know for next time. It’s always great to start off on the right foot, but if the growing season has already started you can still fertilize. The main takeaway here is that you figure out when your grass is actively growing and when it is not.
The best season to fertilize your lawn is the growing season.
For warm season grasses this is late spring through the summer months and into early fall. As for cool season grasses this is typically throughout the entire duration of spring and fall.
We always recommend that you do not push growth with fertilizers or any other supplements when your grass is on its way to dormancy or already dormant.
Fertilizing Do’s and Don’ts
- Learn how to correctly measure your lawn so you know how much fertilizer to buy.
- Know how much fertilizer is recommended for your specific type of grass.
- Go for a slow-release fertilizer. Slow-release fertilizers are gentler on your lawn and have a longer-lasting effect.
- Test your soil occasionally. If you have a deficiency in one of the macronutrients, such as nitrogen, you can strategically choose a fertilizer to give your lawn what it’s lacking.
- Always read and follow the label directions carefully. This helps prevent any over or under application that could potentially have long lasting negative effects.
Common fertilizing mistakes can make your efforts useless or even be harmful to your lawn. You don’t want to:
- Fertilize right before a rainstorm. That rain will wash away your efforts and possibly cause environmental harm if fertilizer ends up where it doesn’t belong.
- Feed your lawn during the hottest part of the day. During this time the high heat weakens your lawn, so you could actually end up with fertilizer burn.
- Fertilize too often. It’s essential to keep track of how much fertilizer you are putting down. Over fertilization can have lasting negative effects on your grass.
Know your Lawn to Feed Your Lawn
How much fertilizer you will need to be throwing down will depend on your grass type, your location, and method of application (granular vs liquid).
Don’t overthink this. If you know what kind of grass you have, you now know when you should fertilize it. Remember, a tiny bit of research will save you from a headache later on down the line. Once you get started you’ll begin to see it’s not as hard as you think and it will become easier to maintain a lush, healthy looking lawn.
Got questions? The lawn experts at LawnStar have got you covered. Just shoot us a note at [email protected]. We’d be happy to help!