When and how often to fertilize my lawn

All grass can use a little boost at certain times of the year. Fertilizing your lawn helps keep your grass growing vigorously to crowd out any aspiring weeds. It also helps maintain a well-balanced micro-ecosystem in your turf, which further helps to stave off a lot of common lawn diseases.

Though knowing when and how often to fertilize your lawn requires a better understanding of some key details. This includes understanding the season, as well as timing in the season and just what type of fertilizer to use.

Fertilizing Your Lawn In Early Spring

Early spring is the easiest and most obviously beneficial time of year to fertilize your lawn. Especially in northern tier states that see long, cold, snowy winters. It should go without saying that your lawn wakes up hungry from winter dormancy in the spring.

Carefully fertilizing it not only helps to strengthen the roots of your grass, but also helps fortify the turf. Especially when it’s done in conjunction with spring aerating. This combination help get your lawn off to a good start.

Timing Early Spring Lawn Fertilizing

The best time to apply fertilizer in the early spring lawn tends to be between February and April, or when your grass is starting to green up and begin to actively grow. This should be shortly before the first time your lawn first needs to be mowed for the season.

By aerating your lawn with a tine or plug aerator before fertilizing, you give your turf the best chance to soak up the added nutrients. This will also go a long way toward fortifying grass against weeds as well as boosting the turf’s resistance to a lot of common law diseases.

The goal is to supply your lawn with everything you need to nourish your lawn (and kill weeds) from early spring through the fall. The early spring fertilizer essentially feeds while preventing crabgrass and other listed grassy weeds.

Early Spring Fertilizing Tips In The South

Weeds tend to be a major problem, in the southern states. So, it’s a good idea to include a weed preventer agent along with your fertilizer. Many come with special pesticides includes to help prevents and kill fire ants and grubs for up to 6 months.

Fertilizing Your Lawn In Late Spring

Summer can be a time of vigorous growth. It can also be a time of extreme drought. Fertilizing your lawn in late spring helps give your grass everything it needs to endure whatever weather conditions the summer has to throw at it.

At the same time, your grass is probably growing vigorously and using up a lot of its stored energy, so you need to keep it well-nourished.

Timing Late Spring Lawn Fertilizing

The best time to apply late spring lawn fertilizer tends to be between April to early June, or roughly 6 to 8 weeks after your initial early spring feeding. This is a good time to use a turf builder formulated fertilizer to help your lawn grow strong roots while killing dandelion, clover, and other listed weeds.

In the North, this is also a good time to apply a herbicide like a weed & feed to help curtain things like broadleaf weeds, such as clover, violets, creeping Charlie, and even oxalis, which can be a lingering problem that gets worse as the summer drags on.  

In the South, this is a good time to follow up your early spring fertilization with an application of turf builder to fully fortify the health of your turf. It also helps your grass to choke out germinating weeds that might have come from seeds produced earlier in the spring.

Fertilizing Your Lawn In The Summer

Summer is tough on grass. Persistent weather patterns that bring heat, heavy rains, or even drought, can stress out grass, as well as affect the microbial culture of your turf. Compounding these issues most lawns see increased foot traffic, as well as threats from insects, moles, voles, and other pests. Fertilizing helps protect and strengthen it.

Timing Summer Lawn Fertilizing

Ideally, you want to apply summer lawn fertilizer between the months of June and August, or roughly 6 to 8 weeks after your last late spring feeding.

In the North, this is a time of year when grass-borne insects can be a problem. So it might help to use a fertilizer that includes a blend of pesticides. This will help deal with insects like chinch bugs, chiggers, or fleas. The goal of any summer fertilizing is to strengthen the lawn against heat and drought while killing listed bugs.

Fertilizing Your Lawn In The Fall

Fall fertilizing gives your lawn the opportunity to rebound from summer damage while also helping to get it ready for its winter dormancy period. Your fall lawn fertilization will strengthen roots and increase nitrogen storage for a healthy, green lawn next spring.

Timing Fall Lawn Fertilizing

Fall lawn fertilizing tends to be most effective when it is timed right after your fall aeration. This usually means applying fall lawn fertilizer between the months of August and November or 6 to 8 weeks after the summer feeding.

By aerating first you are opening up the soil to allow nutrients and moisture to soak down into the turf. This will go a long way toward supplying your lawn with the resources it needs to survive a long winter of cold, freezing temperatures.

Do I Need To Fertilize My Lawn In Winter In The Deep South?

If your grass stops growing, then there is little need to fertilize it in the winter. Though there are some parts of the deep south and tropical environs of the United States where the grass never stops growing and doesn’t truly go into dormancy.

In these growing zones, you might need to apply a slow-release nitrogen-based fertilizer in late January or February to keep the grass growing strong enough to block out weeds. You can then follow this up with pulling weeds and/or applying herbicides as needed.

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