How Often Should I Fertilize My Lawn For The Best Outcome?

How Often Should I Fertilize My Lawn For The Best Outcome

If you are a homeowner, then you want your house to look as smart as possible. No doubt you take care in your home’s appearance so visitors and guests feel welcome and at ease.

But, it’s not only your home that should be taken care of – you should also take great pride in your lawn.

If you have a lawn, then you want it to look lush and green all year round. The lusher it looks, the healthier it tends to be. The good news is that this is possible with some tender loving care and a good fertilizer routine.

Fertilizer provides additional nutrients to your lawn to help it remain healthy, both physically and presentation-wise.

But, it’s vital that you get to understand how and when to use fertilizer on your lawn to get the best results. 

There are a myriad of factors to consider, such as when to apply the fertilizer and how much to use. If used improperly, fertilizer can actually cause more harm than good to your yard. So much so, it can even kill the grass.

A little bit of fertilizer knowledge goes a long way and we are here to share some important insights into fertilizing your lawn to keep it as lush as it can be.

We’ll also provide you with some helpful tips to save some cash and eventually help your lawn thrive. 

Factors To Consider When Fertilizing A Lawn

There are a range of factors that help you understand how often you should fertilize your lawn. Some of these are:

  • The type of fertilizer you use
  • Application times of lawn fertilizer
  • The way you apply fertilizer
  • How regularly you water your lawn

Type Of Fertilizer 

You can choose from a wide range of fertilizers but the most significant implication being whether it is organic or synthetic fertilizer.

As well as this, some fertilizers are described as slow-release or quick-release, but there is quite a stark difference between the two.

As the name suggests, organic fertilizers are completely natural and are sourced from either animals or plants. 

Synthetic fertilizers, on the other hand, are made from various components within a laboratory. 

Most organic fertilizers are slow-release. This simply means that they aid in the development of your yard’s soil to grow strong grass.

Synthetic fertilizers tend to be stronger and can help your grass become greener more quickly. But, they do not help develop the soil.

If you use synthetic fertilizers frequently, you may find that they can weaken the soil. This can, in turn, result in the grass being unable to sustain itself without the use of synthetic fertilizers.

As you can imagine, this process is not sustainable. Therefore, we recommend using organic and slow-release fertilizers on your lawn.

Nevertheless, quick-release synthetic fertilizers tend to provide almost immediate results. If you want your lawn to look lusher and greener in a hurry, then quick-release starter fertilizer can be beneficial to your goals if you’re seeding the lawn from scratch.

It is possible to apply synthetic fertilizer to your lawn as a first application and then apply organic fertilizer afterward. This can help to strengthen the grass as the season progresses. 

Slow-release fertilizers are more beneficial for your lawn’s actual health, though. So, if you want long-term sustainability, we suggest sticking with organic slow-release fertilizer. 

It’s important to understand what is inside your fertilizer, too. This means having a fundamental understanding of its NPK rating. This counts the fertilizer’s levels of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).

Synthetic fertilizers are more powerful and tend to have larger NPK ratings than organic fertilizers. Because synthetic fertilizers are more potent, their results are seen more quickly (i.e., the grass looks greener sooner). 

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But, as we said, this is unsustainable. Synthetic fertilizers prevent your lawn from “looking after itself.” The natural process is taken over by the fertilizer, so the grass does not develop as it should naturally.

Yes, slow-release organic fertilizers take longer to show results, but these results nearly always last longer and your lawn’s health will benefit over a long period of time. 

For regular lawns, we recommend using a fertilizer with an NPK rating of 20-5-10 for the first application of the season.

This equates to a fertilizer that contains 20% nitrogen, 5% phosphorous, and 10% potassium. In grass, these are the main nutrients, so you need to find the right balance for it to thrive. 

Nitrogen is what helps your lawn grow quicker and become green. This nutrient is vital for each season.

Phosphorus is important for promoting a healthy root development, which is why we highly recommend applying high phosphorus fertilizers earlier in the season.

This will help the grass grow stronger roots earlier on. And, if you regularly water your lawn, its roots will be in a better position to withstand drought conditions during the hottest spells of summer.

Just keep in mind that too much phosphorus in one area can be detrimental to the environment. 

Potassium aids in the overall growth of the grass, helping it become healthier and balanced. 

Application Times Of Lawn Fertilizer

Knowing when to fertilize your lawn is critical. We recommend fertilizing your lawn four times a year, using a slow-release, organic fertilizer.

The first fertilizing application should be applied early in the season, ideally when the grass has started to grow for the first time that year.

By doing this, the grass receives a stimulation of nutrients early enough to take root and then start to green swiftly.  

We like to combine fertilizer with a pre-emergent herbicide, such as the organic Espoma Organic Weed Preventer.

This helps the grass to grow in abundance, so annual weeds are pushed out each year. That means you won’t have to use weed killer products as much on your lawn going forward. 

The first application of fertilizer should occur when the soil reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, it is difficult to know when the soil reaches this particular temperature, but there are signs to look out for.

If the grass begins to grow and lilacs are blooming, this is a good indication that the soil has reached the appropriate temperature.

Another method is to use a lawn thermometer. These are available online and at garden or hardware stores. 

Once you have applied the first fertilizer treatment, you will need to figure out when to fertilize it again throughout the remainder of the year. 

After that first application, we suggest applying another round around six to eight weeks later. Then, repeat this process a couple more times with approximately six to eight weeks between applications.

Scheduling your fertilizing applications is important. Ideally, you should use the fertilizer before the hottest point of summer hits. This will give your lawn a much-needed boost. 

If your lawn is established, you should look to fertilize it around four times in each season.

However, this depends on a few factors, including the health of the grass (is it damaged or not?), and if it is being grown freshly. If it is damaged or growing fresh, it will need additional treatments until it has become established.

If your lawn’s grass is not native to the climate you live in, it will also require additional fertilizer treatments. But, if your lawn is native to your region, then it shouldn’t need more than one or two treatments a year.

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A simple fertilizing application in the spring and one in the fall should be adequate to keep the lawn healthy and lush, even throughout the winter months.

One general rule of thumb is to apply fertilizer when the grass is growing at its fastest. You just need to make sure that you do not over-fertilize your yard. If you do, there are a number of risks that your lawn may face. These include:

  • Burning the grass – too much fertilizer can scorch your lawn. This is because the grass is lacking natural nutrients, and, therefore, starts to turn brown.
  • Bad for the environment – runoff from the fertilizer can reach streams and damage wildlife and the ecosystem.
  • It’s a waste of money – the more you fertilize, the more you’ll need to spend.

If you apply fertilizer when the grass is in its growing stage, the natural growth cycle is supported. This applies to both warm season and cool season grasses.

Also, the grass can grow at its own rate and not face too many obstacles during its development. 

Fertilize your lawn at the right times and it will develop strong roots and manage to sustain itself for the whole year. 

How To Apply Fertilizer

When browsing for lawn fertilizers, you will generally find that they are sold in two forms:

  • Granulated form
  • Liquid form 

When you’re trying to determine how to spread your fertilizer, you need to consider what form to use. 

The main difference in organic fertilizers is what it is composed of. In most cases, corn grain meal-based fertilizers tend to be granular, whilst fish emulsion comes in a liquid state. 

As for synthetic fertilizers, these are available in both liquid and granulated forms. 

Most of the time, granular fertilizers are the easiest to apply to your lawn. Although you can apply liquid fertilizer yourself, we recommend hiring a professional to ensure it is done correctly and you don’t over-fertilize areas of your lawn. 

The reason for this is that it is quite challenging to measure the right amount of liquid fertilizer. Too much can burn your lawn, whereas too little will have no impact on the lawn’s health whatsoever. 

You can apply granular fertilizer using a spreader, and thankfully, this process is straightforward. You simply fill the container up over an area away from your lawn and then walk across your yard spreading fertilizer as you go. 

We recommend starting off on the outskirts of your lawn and using an edge-guard to ensure the fertilizer only goes where it is intended to go. Then, you should use your spreader line-by-line until your whole lawn has been covered.

When you start to spread the fertilizer, do so at a lower rate than first recommended. By doing this, you can be assured that you’re not spreading too much and damaging your lawn.  

We also highly recommend applying the fertilizer to your yard after heavy rainfall or a heavy watering session. If rain is forecast, simply wait until after it has rained.

If you do so before it rains, the granules will simply get washed away and your hard work and money would go down the drain with them.

If any granules remain in other parts of your yard, such as on your patio, simply sweep them away.

If you leave them to linger, the granules can wash away in storm drains and streams and potentially contaminate the environment.

Watering After You Have Applied Fertilizer

After the fertilizer has been applied to your yard, you need to water the lawn regularly. But, bear in mind that grass requires occasional concentrations but high volumes of water. 

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The particular fertilizer you are using will specify whether you will need to water your lawn before or after the fertilizer application. 

Generally speaking, granular fertilizers only require slight watering after application. As long as there is enough water for the fertilizing granules to sink into the turf, that should do the job. 

The number one rule is to NOT OVERWATER YOUR LAWN. If you do this, you may wash away all the additional nutrients before the grass has had any chance to absorb them. 

Alongside regular mowing and watering, your lawn should soon flourish and look lusher than ever after fertilizer treatment. 

Lawn Maintenance

Healthier lawns tend to need less maintenance than damaged ones. This means you won’t need to fertilize it as often. 

Another way of feeding nutrients to your lawn is to mulch grass clippings and simply leave them to adhere to your lawn.

These will provide nitrogen to your yard’s soil and, in a short amount of time, help the grass develop and become stronger. 

You can also add compost to the soil to act as a top-dressing. Do this bi-annually (once every other year). Ideally, you should do this when you overseed and aerate your lawn, too.

This will strengthen the soil and lawn further and help you save money as you won’t need to purchase fertilizer as frequently. 

You must also choose a fertilizer that matches your lawn’s needs. Find out what grass type your lawn has and the ideal height for mowing it.

We recommend using a soil tester to find out what your lawn requires in order to develop and thrive properly. 

Another important thing to remember is that fertilizer will not always solve every problem in your yard. So, you can continue to throw down fertilizer, but some issues just require further assistance. 

You need to identify and resolve each lawn issue spending on its particular cause. Treat it holistically and you should be able to achieve the lush, green lawn you’ve always wanted. 

Restoring Lawns With Fertilizer

If your lawn is damaged in some parts, then you can apply fertilizer to those affected areas on a frequent basis. 

May lawn owners notice patchy, yellow marks on their lawn during the early part of the summer. If this is the case with you, we recommend scarifying the lawn with high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer.

Repeat this process every month until fall and then switch over to a high potassium lawn feed to maintain its health throughout the winter months.

You can repair lawn patches with seed. You can apply Scotts Turf Builder Rapid Grass Sun & Shade Mix. This is a slow-release but works quickly and lasts up to 90 days.

This gives the lawn that initial boost, so the grass can start to develop and thrive. 

In Summary

Fertilizing your lawn can help give it a boost to develop and grow healthily.

But, as we have discussed above, the type of grass on your lawn, type of fertilizer you use, and how often you fertilize are all very important factors to consider.

Fertilize too often or not enough, and your lawn can become damaged. It might be a bit of a tiring process trying to figure out the perfect amount of fertilizer to use and how often, but by following our guide, you’ll give your lawn the best chance of growing into a lush, green haven within a few months.