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When To Fertilize Lawn In Illinois

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Fertilizing Schedule For Home Lawns

Spring Lawn Fertilizing & Weed Control Tips

This lawn is damaged as a result of excessive spring fertilizer applications.

Two important factors to consider when fertilizing lawns are how much and when to apply. About three pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per growing season is suggested for most full-sun lawns in northern Illinois . Split into two or three applications, with each single application of nitrogen being about one pound per 1,000 sq. ft. About half as much nitrogen is suggested for shade lawns. Percent nitrogen in the bag and size of the lawn are calculation variables as shown below.

Adopt A Fertilization Schedule

The first step in developing your fertilization plan is to set the right fertilization schedule for your lawn.

Turfgrass has a heavy nutrient requirement that is influenced by many things, including grass species type, age of the lawn, soil health, and maintenance practices. Therefore, you need to consider three factorssoil test results, desired lawn quality, and maintenance preferencesthat will impact the amount and timing of any fertilizer applications you will need to grow a healthy lawn. For example, a low maintenance turfgrass species in a mature lawn may not need fertilizer inputs if grass clippings are returned and soil health is maintained.

Before applying fertilizer to your lawn, always consider soil test results, desired lawn quality, and maintenance preferences. | Photo Credit: Janice Milanovich, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Choose a maintenance level to help you decide on a fertilizing schedule in the table below.

  • Low Maintenance = Low priority placed on lawn appearance, minimal inputs.
  • Medium Maintenance = Some priority placed on lawn appearance average input of time, money, and upkeep.
  • High Maintenance = High priority placed on lawn appearance considerable time, mowing, and money to maintain.

The table below shows fertilization schedule options for cool-season turfgrasses typically found in the upper Midwest, based on desired maintenance level.

Low Maintenance
Fertilize Fertilize

when daytime highs are no longer in the 90s. Slow and quick release nitrogen.

What Is A Winterizer

A winterizer is a fertilizer applied in late fall to help your lawn survive the winter by storing more food. It also helps your lawn to root and grow faster in the spring. A winterizer is not meant to augment fall grass growth, this is achieved by the early fall fertilizing in September and early October. It contains more potassium than other fertilizers. Potassium is key for root growth and helps plants weather the cold.

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Determining The Best Times To Fertilize

Lawn Fertilizer in Forest Park, IL

Homeowners who prefer organic fertilizing methods might do a single “turf-builder” application in the early fall to build root systems. In the spring and summer, most may omit all fertilizers and rely on the nitrogen from mulched grass clippings to feed their lawn.

Homeowners using traditional fertilizer might want to apply two or three light applications per growing yearone in the spring, one at midsummer in regions where it is necessary, and one “turf-builder” application in the early fall.

The actual timing depends on your region and the type of turf grasses you have. For information on the best recommendations for your area, contact an expert at a local garden center or reach out to the nearest cooperative extension office.

Once you have figured out the best time, try to plan the fertilizer application with a short period of rainfall. If not, when you apply the fertilizer, you will need to supply your lawn with at least a quarter-inch of water. However, do not apply fertilizer before a massive storm. A rainstorm increases the risk of fertilizer nutrients flowing into storm drains and streams.

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Feeding In The Spring

After winter, your lawn may begin to turn greener, but donât apply fertilizer just yet. According to the University of Connecticutâs Home & Garden Education Center, you should wait until your grass actually grows before you can start fertilizing it. The reason for this is that its roots still store enough carbohydrates from last fall to facilitate early spring growth. As a general rule of thumb, fertilizer tends to be more useful after a plant has exhausted its own resources.

For the best results, go for organic or light, slow-release types of fertilizers to ensure youâre not burning your possibly weakened lawn . Besides, liquid feeds and tonics are more recommended than granular fertilizers for quicker absorption by the plants. If youâre unsure about the most appropriate fertilization schedule to use for proper lawn care during spring, donât hesitate to consult a professional lawn care professional for advice.

Overseeding In The Spring

Overseeding is the process of replenishing grass by scattering grass seeds over a lawn. Spring is a good time to overseed, particularly if youâre using turf grasses that are known to grow robustly in these conditions.

However, there is a debate on whether overseeding for cool-season turfgrasses is effective or not during spring. New seeds for these kinds of grasses only tend to grow shallow roots since the higher temperatures in the following summer cause photorespiration. This is the process where a plant uses more energy than it manufactures. But if your lawn has warm-season turfgrasses, then overseeding is generally recommended around this time.

Under normal circumstances, youâll only need to overseed twice a year unless your lawn suffered severe damage in winter.

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How Often Should I Fertilize My Lawn

Adding fertilizer to your lawn is one of the main ways to ensure that your grass is as healthy as possible. Throughout each growing season, your grass will slowly deplete its nutrient levels and these should be replenished manually. The trick in performing this task is to know how often you should fertilize your lawn.

Knowing how regularly to apply fertilizer to your lawn depends on the time of year. During late spring and early summer, your lawn will need to fertilize your lawn more frequently than during the late summer and early fall/autumn. This is because your lawn is more active during the spring and early summer and will be able to withstand more frequent applications of feed.

The rate of grass growth will slow during the late summer and early fall/autumn so, therefore, the lawn will require fewer nutrients.

This article contains two tables, one for U.S. gardeners and the other for U.K. gardeners, that list the most popular fertilizers. The tables refer to fertilizers that are designed to be applied at different times of the year.

Weeds And Pest Control In The Summer

The Best Grass for Central Illinois

Weeds sprout in the summer and can become more visible and even overshadow grass on your lawn if not controlled. For those who missed the window during spring to use pre-emergent herbicide, thereâs still a chance to remove the weeds from your lawn. The two main methods of weed removal are cultural control and chemical control.

âCultural control involves hand weeding, followed by creating an adequate growing environment for the turf species present,â says Sam Bauer, Executive Director of the North Central Turfgrass Association. Chemical control, Bauer adds, involves using âpost-emergent herbicides containing the active ingredients quinclorac or fenoxaprop.â

Cultural control is a quick remedy if your lawn is only sparsely populated with weeds. Just bend down and pluck them . Chemical control is a better solution if your lawn is heavily populated by weeds. Bauer recommends these products with the essential active ingredients: âfenoxaprop-P-ethyl or quinclorac .â Only spray herbicides when temperatures are below 85° F to avoid stressing your grass any further.

In the same vein, donât forget to treat for common lawn pests that show up in summer. Some insects like turf caterpillars and grubs are quite harmful, especially if left to multiply uncontrolled. Be on the lookout for symptoms of pest infestation like wilting and unusually high feeding activity. If the pest infestation looks to be extreme, consider hiring a lawn care company to help you eradicate them.

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Best Time Of Day To Fertilize Lawn

The best time of day to fertilize your lawn is in the early morning hours for quick-release fertilizer. The morning hours also offer less sun, cooler temperatures and low winds. Never apply lawn fertilizer over the summer midday during the high heat and direct sun, which will cause the grass to burn and the lawn to dry out.

Remember, it is important to first read the label of every fertilizer you are applying to see if water should be applied before or after application.

Kellie Speed is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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What About Weed Control And Fertilizer Products

The lawn on left is fertilized adequately, the one on the right is not fertilized.

Weed and feed products are popular in that they provide fertilizer and weed control in one product. Early fall is a good time for controlling broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions, and fertilizing. Read and follow all label directions. As the weeds fade away, the fertilizer helps the grass plant fill in those open spots were the weeds were. The lawn will look thicker next spring and compete well against weed seeds attempting to sprout and grow.

Another fertilizer and herbicide product is the fertilizer and crabgrass control products sold in spring. These contain fertilizer and a preemergence herbicide for crabgrass control. Once again, read and follow all label directions.

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The Best Time To Fertilize Lawn

Lawn Fertilization Company Washington, IL

Fertilizing your lawn beginning in early spring is the best way to get nutrients directly into the soil to prepare for the warmer months ahead. Fertilizer works to reduce the amount of weed growth while helping to protect the lawn from pest damage.

Your lawn is ready to be fertilized when the soil reaches temperatures above 50 degrees a soil thermometer is an easy way to tell when your lawn is the appropriate temperature. For most climates, the first feeding of the season typically occurs in mid- to late April, and the second feeding should be applied in mid-May, with follow-up fertilizers being applied every six to eight weeks thereafter, with the last in fertilization in October.

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Fall Is Best Time To Fertilize Lawn

  • Richard Jauron

While fall is a busy time of year, be sure to set aside sometime for your lawn. Good lawn care practices in the fall helpmaintain a healthy, vigorous lawn and can revive a declining lawn.Important fall chores include mowing, fertilization, weed control,and aerification.


Continue to mow the lawn until the grass stops growing. Kentuckybluegrass and other cool-season grasses usually stop growing inearly November in Iowa and Illinois. Mow bluegrass lawns at aheight of 2½ to 3 inches in the fall. When mowing, never removemore than 1/3 of the total leaf surface at any one time. Forexample, if your mowing height is 3 inches, mow the grass when itreaches a height of 41/2 inches.


Fall is the most important time to fertilize the lawn. Bestresults are typically achieved by fertilizing once in the springand twice in the fall. Fall applications can be made in Septemberand early November. September fertilization promotes a moderaterate of shoot growth and helps to thicken the turf. An applicationin early November promotes rootgrowth and early green up next spring. Apply 1 pound of actualnitrogen per 1,000 square feet in both September and earlyNovember.

Broadleaf weed control

In preparation for winter, perennial weeds translocatecarbohydrates down to their roots in the fall. Broadleafherbicides applied from mid-September to early November will alsobe translocated to the weeds roots, resulting in excellentcontrol.


To Figure How Much Nitrogen Fertilizer To Apply To Lawns:

  • Divide rate of nitrogen desired by percent nitrogen in bag
  • Multiply answer found by square footage of lawn and divide by 1,000

EXAMPLE: 15-5-10 fertilizer, 7,000 sq ft, want to apply 1 lb. nitrogen/1,000 sq ft

  • 1 pound divided by .15 = 6.66, round to 6.7
  • 6.7 multiplied by 7,000 = 46,900 divided by 1,000 = 46.9, or 47 pounds

Therefore, need about 47 pounds of 15-5-10 fertilizer to cover entire lawn

After calculating how much to apply, when to apply is the other important decision. Early fall is a key time for fertilizing lawns in northern Illinois. The schedule below outlines when to apply based on how many applications are to be made annually and desired lawn quality. Use controlled-release nitrogen fertilizers in May and September and a fast-release source in late fall. Consider Mother’s Day, Labor Day and Halloween as reminders or favorable times to fertilize lawns in nothern Illinois.

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Watering In The Spring

You should water your lawn no more than an inch a week. During this season, thereâs still a lot of moisture in the soil, and you can test this by digging into the soil using a screwdriver. If the tool goes in with relative ease, then your lawn isnât parched yet.

If you live in an area with regular rainfall, avoid turning your sprinkler system back on. Overwatering your lawn will drown the roots and encourage weed growth. The best time to start watering your lawn in spring is after grass starts to show signs of wilting. It is during this time that plants grow more and deeper roots which come in handy during those extended dry periods later in the summer.

Lawn Service Pro Or Diy Lawn Care

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Although this lawn care guide is as lengthy as it already is, the expertise of a lawn service professional may be more helpful and efficient. An experienced lawn service pro identifies lawn diseases more quickly and possibly diagnoses the needs of your lawn with more accuracy.

They are also often equipped with effective herbicide, pest-control, aeration and other lawn care tools. If you rather not pay for a $100 plus core aerator and avoid all the labor, then hire a lawn service pro. However, you might have to deal with a few issues when you decide to hire lawn care services. One, pros tend to overuse chemicals during lawn care, and two, they are usually not too flexible with your immediate needs. After all, other customers are waiting for them. Regardless, choosing either this or DIY lawn care simply depends on your needs.

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Can I Fertilize My Lawn Every 2 Weeks

Applying a fertilizer every two weeks isnt recommended as this will likely lead to problems such as lawn burn, excessive grass growth, and pollution to waterways.

A natural way of feeding your lawn every two weeks would be to leave the grass clippings on the lawn surface when mowing your grass. The grass clippings contain low nutrient levels that will slowly be absorbed by the soil as they naturally decompose and get eaten by earthworms. These wont burn the lawn or cause excessive growth. You might have to scarify your lawn more often due to this additional organic material being present, however, its recommended that you should do this every late summer or early fall/autumn anyway.

Most synthetic fertilizers are not recommended to be applied every 2 weeks, due to their night nutrient content.

For U.S. based gardeners, we have found that Extreme Grass Growth Booster *, is the only popular lawn feed on the market that can be applied once every 4 weeks to a lawn.

For U.K. gardeners, we have found that Empathy Supreme Green* , is the only popular fertilizer on the market that can be applied once every 4 weeks to a lawn.

*Make sure to follow the instructions on the packet to ensure application frequency before spreading this on your grass.

The recommended frequencies of fertilizer application can be found in the tables further down in this article.

Apply Lawn Fertilizer With Care

Grass will benefit the most from lawn fertilizer when it’s applied correctly. First, do not fertilize right after you mow wait at least two days after mowing. Second, use a spreader to apply it evenly and make sure it reaches all areas of your yard. Close the spreader hopper when stopping and turning so fertilizer doesn’t leak out in piles. Clean sidewalks and paths of any excess fertilizer to prevent it from washing or blowing into grass, resulting in burn spots.

The best time to apply your lawn fertilizer is in the morning when the grass is wet with dew, and you’re not expected to have rain for one or two days. Once you apply the lawn fertilizer, add at least a half inch of water within 14 days per Pennington Seed. This can be from rainfall or watering with a sprinkler.

Feeding your grass a regular dose of lawn fertilizer helps it stay healthy, strong and green all summer long so you can enjoy it as much as possible.


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