The Truth About A Lawn Fertilizer Schedule
(And Common Myths)
A lawn fertilizer schedule is important, but sorting out the fact from the fiction can seem overwhelming. What do you really need to do, and what can you strike off your list before you even put your rubber boots on? Common sense and thinking about how grass grows will help to weed out the myths from the truth. Let us show you how to fertilize your lawn naturally and in sync with what your grass really needs to grow lush and green.
Fact: Grass Needs Nutrition
It is true that grass needs more nutrition than nature can provide. To have a healthy lush turf, you must feed your grass. Without additional feed provided by you, the turf will always be yellow and sparse or even brown and dead.
Myth: You Must Fertilize First Thing In Spring
Who knows how these myths get started, but this is the biggest of all how-to-fertilize your lawn myths! In fact, it’s most important to feed your grass in the fall, so the grass plants can store up energy for the winter and be ready to grow green in spring. If your lawn fertilizer schedule includes feeding in early spring you will do two things: first, you will give crabgrass a nice dose of nutrition. Secondly, the top of the lawn will green up faster than the roots will grow down, leaving you with a very weak turf. The right time to fertilize is after the lawn has greened up, in mid to late spring.
Fact: Nitrogen Greens Your Turf
Fertilizers are marked with an NPK number so what does that mean? Your lawn fertilizer schedule should be based on knowing what to feed your grass.
So, these are all good things to feed your grass, so why is early spring nitrogen such a bad thing? Well, if you use an organic pre-emergent weed killer, like corn gluten meal, that’s already a terrific source of slow-release nitrogen. You don’t need to add any more at this point or you’re overdoing it, which is not just wasteful – it’s actually harmful to the lawn.
Nitrogen spikes grass blade growth at the expense of the roots, making a lush green look. In spring, though, you want a healthy root system formed to support healthy blade growth all year round. So avoid NPK-type mixes in early spring or if you’re using corn gluten meal.
Myth: Apply Feed Every Month
When your grass is dormant and the weather is very hot or very dry, you should not feed it. A simple tip to remember is that when your grass is growing, you should feed it:
- Cool season grass types should not be fed in the hot summer, but in the fall when the weather turns cooler.
- Warm season grass should be fertilized in late summer.
- Both types should be fed after they have finished greening up in the spring.
- Don’t know whether you have cold or warm season turf? No need to worry, just watch how often you have to mow. If you’re mowing, it’s growing, and the temps outside will tell you if it is a warm or cold season variety.
Lawn Fertilizer Schedule
What should you do and when should you do these things, and how can you know how to fertilize your lawn the right way?
First, a liquid organic fertilizer is best, since it penetrates the soil, and chemical versions just have to be watered in anyway. Here’s your to-do list for the whole year:
- To feed your grass effectively, you must de-thatch and aerate, otherwise the grass plants won’t be able to use the feed you give them.
- Apply seaweed soil booster to reactivate the soil and free up the nutrition in the soil by activating the soil microbes and bacteria.
Mid To Late Spring
- Option #1: Apply corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent weed killer for crabgrass and a slow-release of nitrogen.
- Option #2: Spread a layer of compost over the lawn to feed the soil, level the turf, and for overseeding.
- Once the grass has greened up, feed your grass (all types).
Summer to Early Fall
- Keep up your lawn fertilizer schedule while the grass is still growing, every 6 to 8 weeks, but not if drought has caused it to go dormant (remember, cool season grass stops growing in high heat, warm season ones grow in heat).
Fall to Early Winter
- If you only feed your grass once a year, this is the most important season to do so.
- Be sure to use a mineral blend to fortify the soil for your yard’s health.
- Later in fall use a winter blend, timing it for just before the first frost to keep the mineral boost going.
Add-Ons After You Know the Basics of How To Fertilize Your Lawn
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn for a natural nitrogen source.
- Use a high traffic blend for high human or pet traffic areas.
- When you need to get lush green for a special occasion, use quick greening blend.
Feed Your Grass Naturally
Knowing how to fertilize your lawn boils down to understanding you don’t always have to pour on more chemical feeds, or always use a fertilizer with an NPK number. Seaweed soil boosters and mineral blends will feed your grass by improving the soil naturally. When the grass is greened up and growing, use an organic liquid NPK for lush growth without chemicals that need to be watered in anyway.
Now that you know the truths and myths of lawn care, you’re ready to start on your lawn fertilizer schedule, no matter what time of year it is.