Who doesn’t love a thick, green, luscious lawn? Fertilizing your lawn the right amount at the right times can help your lawn grow thick and healthy to choke out weeds and create a beautiful outdoor space for the whole family.
But it’s not always easy to know when to fertilize your grass. It depends on what type of grass you have, because you have to fertilize when the grass is in its growth period, not when it’s dormant.
You have to spread fertilizer granules carefully, and water them in so that they don’t burn the grass. Follow these instructions to give your lawn the fertilizer it needs at the right time.
Determine What Type of Grass You Have
There are two basic kinds of grasses grown in American lawns: cool season grasses and warm season grasses. Cool season grasses, like Kentucky bluegrass, fine and tall fescues, and ryegrass, like cold weather and will go dormant during peak summer temperatures. Cool season grasses grow during the spring and fall and won’t go brown during the winter.
Warm season grasses, like kikuyu, zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine, and centipede grasses, like warm weather and have their growth period during the peak of summer. They’ll lie dormant during the cooler temperatures of fall and spring, and go brown during the winter.
You can figure out whether you have a cool or warm season grass by paying attention to the times of year when it’s actually growing. You need to apply fertilizer to your lawn while the lawn is in a growth period.
For cool season grasses, this means applying the grass in the early spring when the soil temperature has just reached 55 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days (a good sign that it’s time to fertilize cool season grasses is that the lilacs have started to bloom).
You can apply a second round of fertilizer to cool season grasses in the fall, after temperatures have dropped somewhat but before the first frost. For warm season grasses, apply fertilizer in the late spring or early summer, when the air temperature has reached at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the hottest summer temperatures have passed, you can apply a second round of fertilizer to warm season grasses.
Spread Your Fertilizer Carefully
When fertilizing your own lawn, it’s best to use fertilizer granules because it’s easier to spread them evenly – and it’s important to spread fertilizer evenly so that all of your grass gets the nutrients it needs and you don’t do any damage.
Broadcast spreaders are the best seed and fertilizer spreaders to use when fertilizing your lawn. Park the spreader on your driveway or on a tarp to fill it up – make sure you close the hopper first. Sweep up any spilled fertilizer, to avoid unnecessary pollution and save money.
Spread fertilizer around the perimeter of your yard first, then fill up the middle, working in parallel rows. Spread fertilizer evenly by following your tire tracks as you start a new row. Once you’ve filled in the middle of the yard, go back and fill it again, working perpendicular to your first set of rows.
Water Your Fertilizer in
Once you’ve spread your fertilizer, water it in. You want to water enough to wash the fertilizer off the grass blades and dissolve it into the soil. Don’t water too much, or your fertilizer will run off and be wasted.
Don’t fertilize right before or after a rainstorm, either, if you can help it. If you fertilize before a rainstorm, it’ll wash your fertilizer away.
If you fertilize right after, you’re not going to be able to water it effectively – the soil will be too saturated and your fertilizer will just run off. Wait a few days after a big storm before fertilizing.
Use the Right Kind of Fertilizer for Starting Grass Seed
If you’re fertilizing grass that’s already growing, buy a 20-5-10 fertilizer that will provide the right combination of nutrients for leaf development and root growth.
If you’re seeding your yard, you’ll want a fertilizer with a more even ratio of phosphorus to nitrogen. Nitrogen supports leaf growth while phosphorus stimulates root growth and helps protect the plant from disease.
Use a starter fertilizer with a 1:1 ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus. Spread your starter fertilizer over the bare soil and water it in before spreading your grass seed.
Fertilizing your lawn properly at the right times of the year can keep it healthy, strong, and green – and what more could you want from a lawn, anyway?
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