Ahhhh, Spring. The best time of year for lawn care! Now that the weather is a little better, it’s time to get back out on the lawn and get it ready for the long season ahead.
There are a number of beneficial tasks that homeowners can do in Spring to get a head start before Summer creeps up on us. One of the most important things on your list should be Spring fertilization.
Why You Need To Fertilize In Spring
Think of fertilizer as food. Your lawn is a living thing and it needs to be fed, just like you. Depending on its environment, it needs different nutrients at different times.
Fertilizing in Spring is incredibly important. Not only does it help jump start your lawn for the rest of the growing season, but it also helps address areas of your lawn that have been damaged by the effects of a long, harsh Winter, such as winter kill or snow mold disease.
After the Winter months, lawns tend to lose some of the vibrant green colors they may’ve once had. An early Spring fertilizer application will help green up the lawn quickly and assist it in waking up from its dormant Winter state.
Spring Fertilizer Application Rates
Just like most products out there, all fertilizers are not created equal. Different fertilizers have different NPK ratings – nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) – the plant essential nutrients required by the lawn to sustain and encourage healthy growth.
Nitrogen (N) helps promote the dark green color most of us seek, phosphorus (P) encourages deep root growth and quick establishment and potassium (K) is important for the general vigor of the turf, helping prepare it for stress periods like heat and drought.
Different technologies determine how long the fertilizer takes to activate and release, as well as how long they last. The rate of application is an important variable that is determined by a range of factors, such as blend analysis, type of fertilizer (liquid or granular), release technology (quick, slow or controlled), and the nutrient source (organic or synthetic).
Typically, the recommended rate of application for a Spring fertilizer is 1lb of nitrogen (N) per 1000 square feet. This provides adequate nutrition the turfgrass requires for the Spring growing season.
When To Apply Spring Fertilizer
Here’s the short answer: Early Spring.
Cool season turfgrasses grow most actively in the Spring, due to the combination of optimal temperatures and rain in most regions. This makes early Spring fertilization very important since the turf requires the most nourishment during this period.
Depending on where you are in the country, applying fertilizer sometime in April or early May will give you the most benefit.
Things To Be Mindful Of
- Make sure you always read the label. If you’re doing it yourself, make sure you follow the labeled ratings or you could risk over or under applying.
- Don’t over-fertilize. If you put too much fertilizer down, you could burn the lawn and leave it with undesirable yellow patches or lines. Too much product can also create ‘flush growth’ – this means the plant begins to grow excessively, however, leaves it weak and vulnerable to disease and insects.
- Don’t under-fertilize. If you under-apply, you’re not going to get the benefit and won’t see anything happen on your lawn – not to mention, you’ll have wasted time and money.
- Application technique is important. You need the right equipment to get the job done right. Ideally, you should use a spreader – this will help you avoid streaking the lawn by doing it by hand.
- Know when to fertilize next. The type of fertilizer will determine when you should be fertilizing again. If you’re using a store-bought quick release fertilizer, you may need to re-fertilize once a month. Slow release fertilizers may need to be reapplied every 6-10 weeks, while most professional lawn care companies use controlled-release fertilizer blends, which feed the lawn for 12-16 weeks.