How to Make a Fertilization Schedule
Outlining a schedule for lawn fertilization is a key component of happy, healthy grass. Whether or not you’re an avid landscaper or just a weekend warrior, knowing when and how to fertilize your grass can save you a lot of time and expense in the long run.
There are several factors to consider when setting a lawn fertilization schedule:
- Type of Grass
- Climate You Live In
- Fertilizer Options
Before you get start buying fertilizer and marking the calendar, consider what type of grass you’re working with. There are hundreds of different species of grass throughout the United States but most can be grouped into one of two categories.
Warm Season Grass such as Bermuda Grass, St. Augustine Grass, and Zoysia Grass are considered “warm season” meaning they flourish when the weather’s hot. These types of grass need fertilizing at different points in the year than cooler-season grasses and actually need less fertilizer altogether. These species of grass prefer just a couple of fertilizer applications a year with the largest application being in late spring and the other application in early fall.
Cool Season Grass such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, and Ryegrass do better in colder climates and need more fertilization to stay healthy. These species tend to be healthiest in the cooler months so fertilization should be concentrated before they begin to thrive. It’s advisable to fertilize cool season grass up to four times a year, concentrating the heaviest fertilization in the mid-fall.
Climate Dictates Fertilization
The climate you live in also dictates whether or not you need to fertilize often. The warmer your climate the less fertilizer and more water you need for a healthy lawn, and vice versa for cooler climates. Generally, the Northern US states need more fertilization than Southern, Western, and Mid-Western states.
Now that you have a general idea how often you should be fertilizing, it’s time to further refine your fertilization calendar by choosing a fertilizer. On the market today are dozens of useful fertilizer products but be sure you know what you’re buying: many manufacturers combine fertilizer with pest control products, moss controls, and weed controls. You should always choose a fertilizer that is as rich in nitrogen as possible. In general, commercial fertilizers will have labels stating how long the product lasts, but these estimates usually can be extended a month or two.
Be sure to avoid applying a nitrogen-based fertilizer while your grass is not yet green. This can cause weeds to flourish. It’s also important to apply fertilizer only when your grass is well hydrated – never apply directly to parched grass. Keep in mind that your fertilization schedule may vary depending on the year. A dryer winter may mean you have to push back your fertilization schedule a month or two…be flexible!
Lastly, be careful not to overfertilize. Lawn care experts say one of the most common mistakes homeowners make is to get overzealous with the fertilizer and “scorch” their lawns. If you still have questions about your lawn’s best fertilization regimen, contact a lawn care professional in your area.