Having a beautiful, healthy lawn is every homeowner’s dream. But with so many products and advice, knowing where to start to achieve this goal can be hard. Fortunately, the comprehensive lawn fertilizer schedule outlined here provides an easy-to-follow guide on how often you should fertilize your lawn throughout the year to keep it lush and green all season. With this simple schedule, your neighbors will wonder how you got such a gorgeous yard.
Lawn Fertilizer Schedule: Essential Steps
Below are the steps to follow to fertilize your lawn year-round properly:
Step 1: Identifying Your Grass Type
The first step in creating a lawn fertilizer schedule is identifying your grass type. There are two main categories: cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses.
Like Kentucky bluegrass, tall and delicate fescues, and ryegrass are prevalent in the northern United States. They prefer cooler temperatures and have two growing periods: early spring and early fall.
Like Bermuda grass, centipede grass, St. Augustine grass, Kikuyu grass, and zoysia grass thrive in the southern regions. They benefit from warmer temperatures, with peak growth in midsummer.
A mix of warm- and cool-season grasses might be present for those living in transitional zones, requiring careful attention to provide the best care.
Step 2: Soil Preparation
Before applying any fertilizer, it’s essential to maintain healthy soil. Begin by testing your soil’s pH level to determine any necessary amendments. Most grass types prefer a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Use lime to raise pH levels and sulfur to lower them, if needed. Always follow the recommendations from the soil test results.
Step 3: Fertilizer Timeline Applications
The fertilizer lawn schedule applications depend on the type of grass.
- Early spring (February to April): Apply regular, balanced fertilizer (e.g., 10-10-10) to jump-start growth.
- Late spring (May to June): Apply a slow-release fertilizer to promote sustained growth.
- Early fall (September to October): Apply a regular fertilizer to support root growth and aid in recovery from summer stress.
- Late fall (November to December): Apply a winterizing fertilizer with high potassium content to prepare for winter dormancy.
- Late spring (May to June): Apply regular fertilizer to encourage strong growth.
- Summer (July to August): Apply slow-release fertilizer to promote sustained growth and manage any potential nutrient deficiencies.
- Late summer (August to September): Apply a potassium-rich fertilizer to support root growth while avoiding excess nitrogen.
Step 4: Recommended Fertilizer Types and Amounts
Using the appropriate fertilizer type and amount for your grass is crucial. Cool-season grasses generally require more nitrogen, while warm-season grasses benefit from a balanced mix of nutrients.
Follow the recommendations on the fertilizer label and keep in mind the “4R” principles: the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place.
Step 5: Environmental Factors
Consider environmental factors like rainfall, temperature, and sunlight in your lawn care schedule. Adjust watering practices based on local rainfall, and be attentive to temperature fluctuations that might affect your grass’ growth. Ample sunlight is essential to healthy lawn growth; however, some grass types are more shade-tolerant than others.
Step 6: Proper Lawn Care Product Use
Use additional lawn care products responsibly to maintain a healthy, green lawn. Examples include insecticides or herbicides you may need to manage pests and weeds. Always follow the label instructions and seek advice from your local lawn care professionals if you’re unsure.
In conclusion, by following this comprehensive lawn fertilizer schedule and proper lawn care practices, you can achieve a lush, vibrant lawn that will remain healthy and verdant throughout the seasons.
Step 7: Mowing Your Lawn Properly
Mowing your lawn regularly is an essential part of keeping it healthy. To ensure optimal health, mow your grass at the proper height and frequency. Cool-season grasses should be cut to a height of 2-3 inches in the summer and 1.5-2 inches in the winter, while warm-season grasses do best when kept between 1.5-2.5 inches year-round.
Additionally, mow your lawn frequently enough that you’re only removing 1/3 of the blade of grass at a time—if you cut more than this, it can stress your lawn out and lead to discoloration or disease. Use sharp blades to ensure clean cuts and reduce the chance of disease.
How To Figure How Much Nitrogen Fertilizer to Apply to Lawns?
The amount of nitrogen fertilizer to apply to a lawn will vary depending on the type and health of the grass. Generally speaking, cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue need 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet, while warm-season grasses like Bermuda or St. Augustine require less at 0.5 pounds per 1000 square feet.
You can use a soil test or the “rule of thumb” method to determine how much nitrogen fertilizer to apply. For the rule of thumb method, divide your lawn size by 1000 and multiply it by 1 (cool-season grasses) or 0.5 (warm-season grasses). This will give you a rough estimate of the nitrogen fertilizer you must apply.
When applying fertilizer, it’s important to spread it across the lawn evenly—overdosing in one area can cause burning and discoloration. Additionally, follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application rates and timing.
In addition to nitrogen fertilizers, lawns also need phosphorus and potassium. You may want to use a combination fertilizer or an organic fertilizer like compost or manure to provide adequate levels of these nutrients.
Your lawn will be healthy and green with proper care and suitable fertilizers.
How long should you wait after fertilizing the lawn?
It is recommended to mow the lawn about 24-72 hours after fertilizing. This gives the fertilizer enough time to be absorbed into the soil and for your grass to take full advantage of it. Additionally, reducing mowing frequency during periods of intense summer heat or drought would be best, as this can put too much stress on your lawn.
Can you put fertilizer on wet grass?
If the soil is not saturated, you can usually apply most non-liquid granular fertilizers on wet grass. However, liquid fertilizers and weed killers should never be applied to wet grass, which could cause chemical burns. Using both products on a dry lawn with no standing water or mud puddles is best.
Where is the best place to apply fertilizer to the plant?
For most plants, it’s best to apply fertilizer around the plant’s drip line. This is where water would drip off the leaves if it were raining. Using fertilizer here helps ensure that it will be taken up by the roots and not just washed away by rain or irrigation. Some plants—like shrubs or trees—may need to be fertilized at their base. It’s best to consult your local garden center or a professional for fertilizing advice specific to the plant you’re growing.
Fertilized lawn schedule and proper lawn care practices are essential to keeping a healthy, green lawn. It’s important to use the right type of fertilizer at the correct rate and time, consider environmental factors like temperature and sunlight, use additional lawn care products responsibly, and mow your grass correctly. With these tips in mind, you can ensure your lawn remains healthy and vibrant all year round.
Douglas Mackalie is a Founder of Mackalies Garden. He is one of the most exciting people you’ll ever meet. He has 25 years of experience in horticulture and gardening, most of which he’s spent outdoors getting his hands dirty.