How to Fertilize your Lawn

The first thing you need to consider is when to fertilize your lawn. There are many factors to take into consideration before you fertilize. First, you will need to learn about the two types of grasses, Warm-Season grasses, and Cool-Season grasses. Each of them have their own different growing season, so they're fertilizing schedule would not be the same. For both types of grasses, it is better to fertilize when your lawn is in the growth stage.

For Cool-Season grasses, the first time you should fertilize is after the winter dormancy. The second is during the early fall when the weather has turned moderate usually after August. This also is the time when heat waves and droughts are typically over. Nitrogen, an important ingredient, should be applied in larger concentration during the fall growing period and a lesser amount in the spring.

For Warm-Season grasses because they flourish during the summer months, will need to be fertilized shortly after the grass turns green in the spring and then again in late summer months. Nitrogen in larger concentrate should be applied during early spring and the lesser amount in the fall. That is the opposite of the Cool-Season grasses.

Which Fertilzer

The second thing you should know before your fertilize your lawn is what to use. The three primary elements in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. There are 13 elements that lawns need to survive but most are already supplied to the lawn from the soil and what surrounds it. Most fertilizers are sold as complete fertilizer because they contain all three elements.

There are numbers listed on the fertilizer package that tells you how much of each element is contained in the fertilizer. The first number represents the nitrogen percentage, the second number is the phosphorus percentage, and the last number is the percentage of potassium that is contained in the fertilizer bag.

What purpose do these three elements serve in your lawn maintenance? Nitrogen is the most important. It is needed to make the grass grow and keep its green color. It also helps with sturdy growth that will help fight weeds and pests and creates thickness and density.

Phosphorus encourages strong grass and root growth. An increase in phosphorus is seen during the times of planting and renewing old lawns. Potassium is used to help your lawn's resistance to disease, wear and tear, cold weather, and drought.

If you are unsure of what your lawn needs it is possible to buy home testing kits and complete a soil test. They cost between $5 and $10 and have easy to follow instructions. These kits will tell you how much of the three above elements your lawn needs.

You should avoid applying nitrogen before your lawn has greened up. It could stimulate and encourage weed growth or other unwanted grasses in your lawn. Don't be chained to a calendar, base the amount and timing of fertilizing on whether the grass is established.


You also need to make sure you know how long the fertilizer will last. Most fertilizers are time released and take two to eight months to release all their nutrients. You need to make sure that enough time has passed since your last fertilization to avoid burning your lawn by over fertilization.

Most fertilizers need to be well watered after application. If it just sits on your lawn and is not watered, it could cause yard burn. Wait for a drought to end if you are unable to keep the lawn good and moist after fertilizing.

How to Spread

The third thing you need to know is how to spread the fertilizer on your lawn. Several methods can be used to spread fertilizer. The most important thing to remember is to make sure it is spread evenly no matter which method you use for spreading.

There are three different types of spreaders. The first is a broadcast spreader either a handheld spreader for a small lawn or a walk behind rotary spreader. This spreader will spread typically a three-to five-foot width.

The bin will hold a large amount of fertilizer, which can be distributed evenly by moving at a constant rate of speed. These types of spreaders have a release control lever that allows you to control the amount of fertilizer you are spreading on your lawn to avoid over fertilizing.

The drop spreader performs similar to the rotary spreader but drops the fertilizer straight down and doesn't spread it. If you decide to use this spreading it is a good idea to overlap the wheelbase slightly while making a pass. Two perpendicular passes are recommended for an even spread.

The third type is liquid spraying. This spreading is done by using a garden hose with the fertilizer bottle of concentrated liquid attached to the end. This type of fertilizing can give immediate results. To control the spreading you should spray back and forth after marking your lawns into sections so you will know where you've already been. It's also a good idea to walk backwards so you can see where you have sprayed.

Once you have fertilized, no matter what method you use it's a good idea to water the lawn especially during hot, dry months.

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