Fertilizing your lawn – why you should wait

Wed. Apr. 29, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Fertilizing your lawn – why you should wait

This is a yearly ponderable by the lawn faithful.  According to research, Spring is NOT the best time to fertilize your lawn.  I know, I can hear many of you gasping, but the BEST times to fertilize your lawn are Late summer and fall.

This is contrary to the traditional springtime application. Early spring applications of nitrogen cause a surge of top growth in the plants, which makes the lawn look nice in the spring but depletes the plants’ energy reserves. Consequently, when summer stress periods occur, plants are weaker and less able to survive.

What we want…. this lawn was created in 2005/06 with a lot of work. It doesn’t look like this anymore!

Note:  the roots of most lawn grasses are shallow, giving them lots of top growth to look good, does nothing to help those roots provide for them.

stressed/weedy lawn. this was 2012 when I first moved in!

Applying fertilizer in late August or early September will provide the plant with adequate nutrition to overcome any summer stresses. In addition, an application of fertilizer in late October or early November, when top growth is minimal but when soil temperatures are still warm enough for nitrogen absorption, plants resume growth and green-up early the following spring without the excessive shoot growth associated with early spring nitrogen applications.

That cottonwood tree is gone but it was such a beautiful place to sit

The whole area in the picture above was full of overgrowth weeds.  It was a mess.  It took a lot of work to clean it up and plant the grass seed and continue to water it….

And here’s the other thing, when using herbicides, try not to buy ones that have fertilizer in them.  When fertilizing lawns, particularly with quick-release nutrients, it is important to consider the weather and turf grass conditions to achieve maximum effectiveness. Ideal conditions include a cool day with a good rainfall or watering immediately following the fertilizer application to wash the fertilizer off the leaves and into the soil.