How Much To Fertilize
Apply between 2 and 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet each year during the growing season. If you dont use Total Lawn Food, be sure to check to ensure the fertilizer is approved for use on Bermuda, Zoysia or Fescue. Look up our exact fertilizer recommendations per grass in our Lawn Maintenance Guides.
To do the math on specific fertilizer rates for your lawn, visit our blog post on How to Calculate Fertilizer Rates.
Follow the schedules below to ensure youre fertilizing during the appropriate months of growing season.
Dont Waste Your Time Or Money
Applying fertilizer at the correct time is essential for getting the most out of it. This also saves plenty of time and money without blowing it on trial and run errors. Keep in mind, overfeeding is a real thing and can be dangerous for the environment. On top of that it also hinders growth in your lawn, so be careful.
What Fertilizer To Use After Overseeding
After overseeding your lawn, apply a lawn starter fertilizer to provide grass seedlings with the nutrients they need to establish themselves. Do not substitute lawn starter with a fertilizer meant for mature grass. Mature grass fertilizer doesnt contain the nutrients new grass needs to develop roots. Similarly, avoid using weed and feed fertilizers. These products will kill your grass seedlings.
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How Often Should I Fertilize A New Lawn
Dont fertilize a new lawn until the grass is actively growing and you have mowed the lawn at least three times. Then use a fertilizer that will promote strong roots without a surge in grass growth while keeping the lawn weeds at bay.
For U.S. based gardeners, fertilize your lawn with Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass Plus Weed Preventer .
U.K. gardeners should use a lawn fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro EverGreen Premium Plus Weed Control Lawn .
These fertilizers will slowly release nutrients into the lawn. You will only need to apply these once every 12 weeks while the lawn becomes established.
Its also worth mentioning that if you apply a crabgrass preemergent fertilizer or a regular weed and feed, ensure that you have waited four weeks before sowing your new grass seed.
Types Of Fertilizer To Use On Lawns
Here are the basic types of fertilizer to use on lawns:
Slow-release You dont have to use slow release fertilizers as often, but they are usually more expensive.
Fast-release You get quick results with a fast-release fertilizer, but you have to apply them in smaller amounts and more frequently. You can burn your lawn with a fast-release fertilizer if you use too much.
Weed and feed Try to identify your weeds before using a weed and feed product and make sure your weed is listed on the product label. Take special care around trees, shrubs, and garden plants.
Organic materials such as compost and manure The essential nutrients arent as concentrated in these types of materials, so you have to use a lot. Compost or dry manure before applying it to the lawn, and be aware that some manures, particularly horse manure, may contain weed seeds.
Liquid fertilizers These arent recommended because they are hard to apply evenly and require frequent applications.
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Apply Grass Fertilizer Correctly
Now you’re ready to apply. Feeding the lawn is as simple as mowing it, and as easy as walking at your normal steady pace. Just follow these guidelines for easy application and even coverage.
If youre using a broadcast spreader, feed the entire perimeter of your lawn first. Engage the side-shield, which blocks off one side of the spreader to keep the product on the lawn and out of gardening beds and off driveways and sidewalks. Next, fill in the middle by turning off the side-shield feature and walking back and forth in straight lines. To get even coverage, overlap slightly on each pass by moving over 2 steps before you begin the pass.
When using a drop spreader, start by applying 2 header strips at opposite ends of the lawn to create a turning area. Next, fill in the rest of the lawn by applying the fertilizer back and forth in straight lines perpendicular to your header strips. To ensure you get even coverage, be sure to overlap the wheel tracks by about half a foot .
After youve finished feeding your lawn, return any unused product to the bag and store it for future use.
The Right Feeding Schedule For Your Grass Type
Overfertilizing promotes excess leaf growth at the expense of root growth, or worse, creates an unhealthy pH and nutrient balance, and a harmful buildup of salts. Before you decide on your fertilization schedule, read your fertilizers label to find out how long its formulated to last. Some time-released formulas continuously release nutrients for as long as 12 months, and reapplying to soon leads to over fertilization.
In general, plan to fertilize two to four times or around once every six to eight weeks, applying the bulk of the lawns yearly fertilizer during its most active growth period. Your grass active growth period depends on whether its a cool-season species, such as Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue, or a warm-season species, such as Bermudagrass or St. Augustine grass.
Spring and fall are the active growing times for cool-season grasses, so thats when youll want to provide most of the years fertilizer. In summer, when growth is slower, these grasses need little to no feeding. Warm-season grasses are most active in summer, so they need most of their nutrition between late spring to early fall. Because they slow down once the weather cools, they dont benefit from late-fall fertilization.
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Go For Slow Release Fertilizers
Synthetic fertilizers are usually of two types. Slow-release and quick release. Quick-release fertilizers go into action almost immediately after they are applied. Whereas, slow-release fertilizers work over a long period of time.
Asides that, slow-release fertilizers usually have a gentle impact on the turfgrass, and unlike quick release fertilizers, they pose minimal risk of burning to your grass.
Be Wary Of Fertilizer Application Rates
Across the board, most fertilizer manufacturers are overzealous about their recommended dose and feeding schedule. Start light with half the recommended amount and rate of fertilizer. You can reapply if you don’t like the results. Over a season or two, you’ll get a clear sense of how much it takes to get a healthy lawn.
A healthy lawn will be a relatively light shade of bright green. A lawn that is a deep, almost blackish green, has been very heavily fertilized. The dark green color comes from a lot of nitrogen-based fertilizer used on the lawn. It is highly likely that some of that fertilizer has run off into the streets, storm sewers, and has made its way into local streams and rivers.
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What Order Should You Follow
Lawn owners spread seeds and fertilizer in different ways some do the one first, and the other next, and some in the reverse direction. However, you can apply both the items separately, if seeds immediately, following the fertilizer next. It does not matter which order you follow to spread seeds first or next.
Two methods you can follow for the better results.
Method-1: You can apply fertilizer first. But, you have to ensure overseeding your lawn at least 6-8 week after spreading fertilizer.
Method-2: You can also plan to apply fertilizer after a certain time later from the overseeding on your lawn. You need to give attention to the seedgermination and their growth so that you can apply starter fertilizer according to the grass type you like to grow.
But make sure that, before overseeding, you have to aerate your ground carefully.
What Type Of Fertilizer To Choose For Your Lawn
There are several varieties of fertilizer to choose from. The biggest variable is organic versus synthetic fertilizer.
That said, youll also hear fertilizer described as either quick-release or slow-release, but theres significant overlap between the two.
Organic fertilizers are natural and come from plant or animal sources.
Synthetic fertilizers are derived of components made in a lab.
Organic fertilizers are primarily slow release. In practical terms, slow-release fertilizers help develop your soil to grow your grass strong using its own capacities. Synthetic fertilizers are more potent, and they help your grass green up faster, but they dont help your soil.
In my experience, relying too much on synthetic fertilizers can weaken the soil so much your grass cant sustain itself without applications of synthetic fertilizer.
For me, thats a problem.
Its not sustainable, and its why I use organic, slow release fertilizers on my lawn.
That said, synthetic fertilizers have almost immediate results. If you want your grass green quick, its the option to go with, and I do recommend a quick-release starter fertilizer when starting a lawn from seed.
If you want long-term sustainability for your existing lawn, an organic slow release is a better choice, and my recommendation.
Theres also the option to apply a synthetic fertilizer as your first application, then apply organic fertilizer to strengthen your yard later in the season.
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When To Put Fertilizer On Lawns
All lawns need fertilizer in early spring when the grass begins to green up. Your fertilization schedule for the rest of the season depends on the type of grass in your lawn, the type of fertilizer you use, and your climate. Most lawn seed is a mixture of several different types of grasses, and both spring and fall fertilization are appropriate.
The label on a bag of lawn fertilizer will recommend a schedule based on the type of fertilizer it contains. The label is your best guide to how often to apply the product and how much to use. As long as you dont overdo it and avoid fertilizing in the hottest part of summer, your lawn should thrive.
Determining The Type And Amount Of Fertilizer For Your New Grass
Since the fertilizer you choose should be based on soil makeup and growth area, start by learning those two things.
Measure the square footage of the new grass youre trying to grow in order to determine how much fertilizer you need to purchase. Then get a soil test done to learn which nutrients are present in your soil and which ones youre lacking.
Having a soil test done may sound complicated, scary, expensive or all three, but its actually really easy. In most areas, there are a number of options available to you. Texas A& M even allows you to send in soil samples and get results back!
Once you know the makeup of your soil, you can determine which fertilizer ratio is best for your lawn. Many homeowners discover that their lawns already contain enough phosphorous and potassium and opt for nitrogen-only fertilizer.
If you do use phosphorous, be careful. Phosphorous levels can easily build up too much in soil, resulting in runoff that ends up in surface waters. This is bad for the environment because it can harm fish habitats and increase algal blooms.
Some homeowners are also looking for advice on choosing an eco-friendly fertilizer for your lawn. As more options become available, organic fertilizers have grown in popularity as individuals are working to find a balance between growing and maintaining a healthy lawn and minimizing the use of chemical products on their property.
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How Often Is Too Often
The last thing your lawn needs is constant overfeeding. It does nothing to benefit your turf grass, and can be damaging to the environment. For most lawns, applying fertilizer once or twice a year is enough to keep your grass green and healthy. Precisely when you apply fertilizer depends partly on your climate, but mostly on the type of grass you have. The key is to fertilize during the season when your grass is doing the most growing.
Leave The Lawn Cut At The Right Height
Raise the mowing height slightly in the fall. Rooting depth is proportional to mowing height – the longer the leaves, the deeper the roots. Longer grass blades provide some insulation for the crown of the grass plant. However, if the grass is too long going into the winter, it will become matted, which encourages winter diseases such as pink and grey snow mould.
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Why Does Overseeding Need At Your Lawn
When grasses become older after few years, mature grasses start to slow down their reproduction rate naturally. The grasss blades naturally live 45-60 days. Moreover, young grass can produce tillers faster than the older. The young grass is a top secret behind of managing a healthy, greenly, and thickly lawn, and the patience of overseeding is the easiest formula to keep the grass young on the lawn.
However, overseeding is needed for a lawn for many reasons which are as below:
01. It is an easy way to fill up the undecorated areas of the lawn.
02. Sometimes, grasses do not grow accordingly due to some factors like weather, neighborhood dogs etc.
03. It helps to improve the density of the grasses on the lawn, and also prevents weeds to grow from the grassroots.
04. It improves the color and appearance of the lawn.
What To Do After Your First Use Of Lawn Fertilizer
After you apply fertilizers, keep these tips in mind.
- Dont use the lawn for at least 24 hours. Keep pets and children away from the grass until its completely dry and the soil has absorbed the fertilizers.
- Dont mow for 48 hours. Avoid mowing the lawn for the first couple of days after fertilizing, because it can move the fertilizer around before its set.
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How Regularly Should You Fertilize Your Lawn
There’s no doubt that lawns need fertilizer, but it’s easy to make mistakes, like applying the wrong nutrients or fertilizing at the wrong time. If you fertilize your lawn when it doesn’t need it, you’re essentially throwing money away, so it’s essential to apply fertilizers at the right time, and use no more than necessary.
Granular Fertilizer Application Tips
This is especially likely to be a problem if you use a synthetic, quick-release fertilizer in granular form. If the fertilizer is left on longer, you could even end up with a dead lawn.
If you want to use a granular fertilizer, I recommend that you wait for the grass to completely dry before application for best results. There cannot be any dew, rainwater, or irrigation water on the grass. Be wary if there is any mist or fog outside, as this can also lead to moisture on the grass as well.
If there has been any heavy rain, you will want to wait a minimum of a day before fertilizing with most granular fertilizers.
As I already mentioned, there are some fertilizers which dont require this level of diligence. You can usually throw them down whenever, though late afternoon or early evening is still the best time of day to fertilize lawns with these fertilizers.
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How Often You Should Apply Fertilizer To Your Lawn
Though fertilizer has its benefits, you dont want to overdo it. A full feeding is recommended at least 5-6 times per year. You want to feed your lawn when its growing most rapidly. However, you should base the frequency on your climate and the type of grass you have. For example, cool season grasses can be fertilized in late spring, but only if necessary.
Warm season grasses, like Bermuda grass, St. Augustine, zoysia, centipede and buffalo grass, should be fertilized in spring. Depending on the amount of water your grass gets, aim to reapply your fertilizer every 6-8 weeks. Keep a watchful eye on your grass. If it looks thick and green, you can probably skip the feeding. If its starting to look brown or black, give your lawn some TLC.
Best Time Of Day To Fertilize Lawn
Is there a best time of day to fertilize your lawn? Yes here are some tips from the experts at Jonathan Green.
Jonathan Green has been growing beautiful, dark-green lawns since 1881. We supply genetically superior cool-season grass seed and other lawn and soil care products to commercial sod growers and independent home and garden retailers in all areas of the United States where cool-season lawn grasses Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass, and Fine Fescues are grown.
We also have an environmentally sound and organic approach to lawn care called the New American Lawn Plan. By following this revolutionary plan, you will discover how to address the root of any lawn problems you have, instead of just battling the symptoms, such as insects and weeds. Our mission is to feed your lawn AND your soil to encourage your Black Beauty® lawn to thrive.
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Understanding When To Apply Fertilizer
I recommend fertilizing your lawn four times annually with an organic, slow-release lawn fertilizer.
Your first application of fertilizer is best applied early in the season when grass has just started to grow.
This gives your grass a boost of nutrients early to help it take root and green up very quickly. When applied with a good pre-emergent herbicide , you allow your lawn to crowd out annual weeds every single year.
The rule of thumb is to apply your first batch of fertilizer when your soil hits 55-degrees Fahrenheit.
Usually, you can tell when the soil reaches temperature when lilacs bloom and grasses begin to sprout.
For more assurance, you can get a lawn thermometer at your hardware store or garden center, or you can buy one online .