One of the best things you can do for your lawn is to fertilize it. Fertilizer is like food for your lawn, giving it the essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy, green, and lush year after year. That being said, you don’t want to just start fertilizing whenever the mood strikes! There are a variety of factors that go into when you should fertilize your lawn and how often.
Keep reading as we answer the question, “when should I fertilize my lawn?” plus give you a few tips to maintain the best yard in the neighborhood.
When Do I Fertilize My Lawn?
We know you want your yard to look great all year round, but many homeowners find themselves asking the question, “when should I fertilize my lawn?” The good news is just thinking about fertilizing your yard is the first step to maintaining lush, healthy grass! There are a variety of factors that go into determining when to fertilize your lawn. These include things like what type of grass you have, your regional climate, and the weather.
What Type of Grass Do I Have?
The most important factor when asking, “when should I fertilize my lawn?” is what type of grass you have in your lawn. Different types of grasses are classified into two categories: cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses. There’s also a grouping that is considered transitional, able to grow in areas that are commonly considered too warm for cool-season grasses and too cold for warm-season grasses. How each grows and should be maintained will depend on the type of grass you have as well as your local growing climate.
When to Fertilize Cool-Season Grass
Wondering what grass is right for Upstate NY lawns? The Capital Region most commonly has cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, and tall fescue. These types of grasses tend to have two growing periods, one in early spring and one in fall as temperatures cool down from the hot summer days.
For the best-looking lawn, you’ll want to fertilize cool-season grasses lightly in the spring and then heavily in the fall. Since the higher temperatures of the Capital Region summer will cause these grass types to go more dormant during those months, be sure to fertilize in spring before temperatures rise too much. Cool-season grasses typically only need between 1 and 2 pounds of nitrogen-rich fertilizer per 1,000 square feet per year.
Note: You can use slow- or quick-release fertilizer types and may find special winter fertilizers to use in fall to keep your grass healthy during the cold winter.
When to Fertilize Warm-Season Grass
Warm-season grasses tend to thrive in the more southern states and have an ideal growing season during the middle of summer. These include types of grass such as Bermuda grass, Kikuyu grass, and centipede grass. They’re resilient to the heat, growing thick and giving homeowners a dense lawn.
Late spring and into the summer are the ideal times to fertilize lawns with warm-season grasses. Where cool-season grasses in Upstate NY and northern states can get by with 1 or 2 pounds of fertilizer per year, warm-season grasses may need 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen-rich fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn each year, instead.
Due to the density of warm-season lawns, you’ll want to water the grass after fertilizing enough to clear the grains off the blades and helping them soak into the soil. Be careful not to overwater your lawn, however, and risk creating runoff that washes away the nutrients your grass needs.
How Often Should I Fertilize My Lawn?
We’ve answered the question, “when should I fertilize my lawn?” so now let’s consider the most common follow-up question, “how often should I fertilize my lawn?” How often you should fertilize your lawn depends on your climate and the type of grass you have, but also the type of fertilizer you’re using.
We’ve talked about the peak times of year for fertilizing different types of grass, but be sure to read the label on your product to see what each calls for in terms of application. You may be using slow-release fertilizer that will feed your lawn for several months at a time or but there are also products that require multiple applications for maximum effectiveness.
Regardless of how often you should fertilize your lawn based on the product you’re using, be sure to avoid dormant periods and weather complications like drought or heavy rains. If your area is experiencing a drought, fertilizing your lawn may lead to surface scorching as you apply water to help it soak into the soil. On the other hand, periods of heavy rain may sound ideal for soil absorption but may, in fact, lead to runoff and deprive your lawn of the nutrients you’re trying to give it.
The takeaways for answering the question, “how often should I fertilize my lawn?” are to pay attention to the weather in your area, the time of year, and be sure to check application instructions on your product to avoid over-fertilizing that could damage your lawn instead of keeping it healthy.
Now that you’ve gotten a full run-through for when you should fertilize your lawn, you can keep your yard looking amazing year after year. Lawn maintenance requires dedication, however, so if you’d rather leave it to the professionals, our team of landscape professionals in Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, and the Capital Region are happy to help. Give us a shout and let us make sure your lawn is the envy of the neighborhood!