Lawn Care Part 3 When should I fertilize?

In Lawn Care Part 1 we gave you an introduction to lawn fertilization and getting that lush green grass that you’ve always dreamed of. In part two we gave you an introduction to the types of fertilizers and how they can be used to help you accomplish that goal. And the next post we discuss the actual application of fertilizers, but in this post we will discuss the million-dollar question of, “When should I fertilize?”

There are several factors you should consider in answering that question. These factors include climate, grass type, what type of fertilizer being used and how you actually want your lawn to look. For the purposes of this post we will be considering the Atlanta area (Zones 7a & b USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map? http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/hzm-se1.html) and standard dry granular fertilizers. We will speak generally of the two types of grasses: Warm-Season & Cool-Season. And, we will consider that you would like your lawn to look its best which will require you to fertilize a least 4 to 5 times a year.

Each grass has its own growing season, therefore, each requires a different schedule for fertilizing. As a rule of thumb, it is best to apply fertilizers when your lawn is actively growing. If you fertilize with nitrogen while your lawn is dormant, you can encourage weed growth, and ultimately waste fertilizer.

Cool-Season Grasses (Bermuda, Zoysia) tend to have two flourishing (or growing) periods. The first is after the lawn’s return from winter dormancy. The second is during the early fall, when temperatures moderate and droughts and heat waves typically are gone (after August). For Cool-Season lawns it is usually best to concentrate a larger amount of nitrogen to be applied during the early fall growing period and a lesser amount in the spring.

Warm-Season Grasses (Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, and St. Augustine) flourish during the warmer summer months, and therefore tend to require fertilizing shortly after green-up in the spring and again in the late summer months. Kentucky bluegrass requires more fertilization than turf type fescue, and heavier rates should be used in late fall to encourage root growth. A stronger root system will better support the plant and add to its overall health. Use a lighter rate in spring and summer, enhances top growth, keeps it green and healthy making it more attractive for you.

The following tables are general fertilizing guidelines that can be used to help determine what the best program is for you. Before you begin using the tables as a reference, there are a few things to remember prior to choosing a fertilizer for your lawn:

  • Avoid applying nitrogen when your lawn is dormant or has not yet greened-up.
  • Make sure you read the label on the fertilizer you buy to know how long it lasts
  • Try to make sure your lawn does not have an excess buildup of thatch
  • Avoid fertilizing your lawn during periods of drought or when it is excessively dry

Fertilizer Table

Every lawn and climate is unique. Ultimately, the perfect schedule for your lawn depends on you. If this isn’t something you want to tackle, there are others in your area who do this every day who will be happy to assist you. If you are in the Atlanta, Georgia area our expert technicians stand ready to help you get that lush, green lawn your house deserves.? Call Precision Lawn Care at (770) 979-5171 or click on the Contact us link above.

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