How and When to Fertilize Your Lawn

Various components go into creating beautiful, lush lawns. Lawn maintenance involves ensuring lawns have all of the nutrients they need to thrive. Fertilizer is essential when feeding lawns, but fertilizing a lawn involves more than spreading fertilizer around the yard and hoping for the best. Fertilizing is a process that should be done carefully and timed correctly for optimal results.

No two lawns are alike and each lawn has different needs. The type of grass and whether a lawn is mostly in the sun or shade may dictate fertilizer requirements. While many lawns are comprised of several different grasses, a general rule of thumb is that the lawn will need to be fertilized in the spring at the very least. After that, fertilization schedules should be customized according to grass type, climate and other factors.

Spring is a prime time to fertilize because the lawn is reviving after a long season of cold weather and dormancy. Come spring, lawns need to be fed to turn green and grow. Soil supplies some of the nutrients grass needs, but many soils lack elements that lawns need to survive the growing season. Lawn and garden experts at Lowes say a healthy and actively growing lawn uses a great deal of energy, and fertilizer will provide the boost it requires. Fertilizer helps promote new root and leaf growth, aid in recovery from damage, reduce weeds, and replace nutrients lost to water runoff.

Fertilizing the right way

Follow these steps to feed the lawn and help it thrive.

  • Identify the type of grass in your lawn and consult with a garden center to find the right type of fertilizer for your grass. Many grasses are categorized by season and may be referred to as cool season, transitional or warm season grasses.
  • Test the soil to check for pH. You want the soil to be as close to neutral as possible so it can readily process the nutrients in the fertilizer.
  • Broadcast or rotary spreaders will evenly distribute fertilizer and will not cause striping on the lawn like drop spreaders might. Resist the urge to fertilize by hand, as you may lay an uneven amount of product, producing burns and brown spots.
  • Fertilizers come in slow-release, fast-release, and weed and feed formulations. Which fertilizer you use will depend on the type of grass you have and how much time you have to devote to lawn maintenance. Slow-release fertilizers may be preferable because they do not need to be reapplied often.
  • Use caution and set the spreader to distribute less product if you are unsure how much to apply. Excessive fertilizer can damage a lawn.
  • Water the lawn well after application, and always follow the fertilizer manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep people and pets off of the lawn for a day or two after application.
  • Scotts recommends that lawns with warm-season grass be fed over the summer as they grow steadily from spring to fall.
  • Another application of fertilizer in the fall will supply lawns with nutrients to continue to grow and then survive winter.

Build a strong lawn by feeding it effectively. Dense, healthy lawns can strangle weeds and lead to beautiful landscapes.

The landscaping professionals can help transform your lawn and offer advice to keep your lawn looking green and healthy. We service customers in Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Fayetteville, and Carlisle, PA. Contact us today for a free quote!

Select the Right Fertilizer for Your Needs

For plants to truly flourish, the right growing conditions and soil that offers the right nutrients is of paramount importance. Fertilizer enhances soil so that plants and flowers can thrive. However, fertilizer is not a one-size-fits-all mix.

Choosing fertilizer can be a little overwhelming thanks to the variety of formulations available at neighborhood lawn and garden centers. Shelves contain all-purpose products, such as those billed as vegetable fertilizer, and even formulations geared toward specific flower varieties. Others may feature buzz words like “all-natural” or “organic,” and consumers may not be sure just what they need to keep plants healthy. The following guidelines can help any would-be gardener or landscaper grow more vibrant plants.

Start with a soil test

It’s difficult to determine what plants need without an accurate picture of what’s going on in the ground. A soil test can paint a picture of what’s going on and indicate if any nutrients are lacking. A common misconception is that gardeners fertilize plants. But fertilizer amends the soil that feeds plants, according to the soil-testing lab professionals at Virginia Tech. Soil types vary by region, and conditions may even vary between spots on a landscape. Testing where the plants will be placed can yield the most accurate results. Soil tests are available at gardening centers and online. Otherwise, landscaping professionals can conduct tests.

Know the N-P-K ratio

Most fertilizers will come with information concerning the nutrients within. Most notably it will have a breakdown of how much nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) is in the mix. Judging by the soil test, gardeners can choose a product that will give them the right ratio to amend the soil for the type of plant they are hoping to grow. Complete fertilizers often have NPK in the formulation. Incomplete fertilizers may have only one or two nutrients. This allows a person to customize fertilizer even more without overdoing it with a particular nutrient.

Grow plant knowledge

A cursory knowledge of the plants being planted in the garden also can be helpful. Gardeners must recognize that some plants will not tolerate excess amounts of a particular fertilizer component, while some may need more. Checking books out of the library, seeking information online and consulting with landscaping experts will help expand homeowners’ knowledge about plant types and the needs of each particular plant they hope to grow.

Solid and liquid fertilizer

Fertilizers are generally sold in pellets, spikes and liquid forms. Pellets or granules are dispersed over large areas and will gradually offer nutrients when the soil is watered. Liquid fertilizer is concentrated and fast-acting. These may be used for container plants or smaller areas. Spikes usually are placed in houseplants or to feed individual trees or shrubs. Depending on the formulation, fertilizer may need to be reapplied once a month or more. Consult the product packaging for the correct application advice.
Fertilizer amends soil to grow stronger, more resilient plants.