There are several factors that come into play when deciding when to fertilize your lawn. It’s important to take things such as grass type, season, and watering schedule in mind when setting up your lawn fertilization schedule. Here’s a quick guide on how to figure out the best time to fertilize your lawn.
Identify your grass type
We went into detail about different grass types in this blog, so if you’re not sure what type of grass you have growing right now or which to plant to get your lawn started, take a look at that article. Warm season grasses generally do best when fertilized in late spring and early fall. For cold season grasses, fall is the most important time to fertilize the lawn, It’s also important not to fertilize cold-season grasses too early in the spring as it can cause trouble with root growth.
If you’re in the St. Louis area, you are located in a transition zone, which means both warm and cold season grasses are common, so make sure you get to know your grass before applying fertilizer.
Set up a lawn fertilizing schedule
Some lawns do best when fertilized every 6-8 weeks, while others survive just fine with quarterly fertilization. When in doubt, less is more. Over-fertilizing your lawn will not help your grass get any greener, it will just cost you more money and also make your grass grow faster, meaning you’ll have to mow it more often.
While the number of recommended applications varies, lawn care professionals agree that Spring and Fall applications are the most important. Springtime is when your lawn is hungry for nutrients and getting ready to grow, so feeding it with proper fertilizer will help set up a good root system that will grow lush, green grass. During fall, your grass is still growing and it’s about to enter the cold winter season, so giving it another boost before the weather change will help it survive the winter.
If you’re just getting started with fertilizing your lawn, try a seasonal fertilizer schedule, applying fertilizer in the Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter and adjust your schedule to add in extra feedings when necessary. Remember, the more you water your lawn, the more fertilizer it needs because the water will speed up growth. If you keep a sprinkler running in the summer, you might want to do two applications of fertilizer for that season instead of just one.
Check the pH level of your soil
Applying fertilizer to soil that isn’t ready to absorb it is a waste of time and money. Testing your soil to measure the alkalinity or acidity will help you determine whether or not your soil is ready to absorb fertilizer and put the nutrients to good use.
Testing kits are available at most garden centers, but you can also test the pH level yourself with things you mostly likely have around the house, like baking soda and vinegar or cabbage. The steps are easy, though the results are not going to be as exact. The kit will give you an actual pH level, while the DIY options require you to make estimate based off reactions and colors. If you feel unsure, you can also contact a lawn care professional to conduct the test for you.
The goal is to fertilize your lawn when the soil pH is neutral, which is a pH level between 6 and 7.
Know your nitrogen
Fertilizer bags will show you how much nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium the fertilizer contains, which are the three primary nutrients your grass needs. Slow-release fertilizers come highly recommended because they break down the ingredients and release the nutrients over time instead of all at once. This helps you avoid over-loading your grass with nitrogen, which will speed up your grass growth. The magic number is one-tenth of a pound of nitrogen per week to keep your grass green but not growing too quickly.
It can be difficult to decide when to fertilize your lawn, so if you run into any issues or have any concerns, don't hesitate to contact a lawn care professional! Click here to contact Hackmann Lawn & Landscape for fertilization services in St Charles and St Louis areas.