Successfully maintaining a lush, green lawn requires much more than just watering and mowing. In fact, properly fertilizing your lawn is just as essential to keeping your grass healthy and vibrant as making sure it’s sufficiently cut and watered.
However, while most people are aware of how often they should water and mow their lawns, it's common for many homeowners to be a lot less sure about how often they should fertilize it. So, what do you need to know about lawn fertilization and how often should you fertilize your lawn?
Understanding the Basics of Lawn Fertilization
Before we get into the details of how often you need to fertilize your lawn, it will be really helpful to make sure that you understand the very basics of lawn fertilization.
Fertilizers contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), which are the three primary macronutrients that all plants need to grow healthy and strong. Nitrogen is essential for the creation of chlorophyll which gives grass its green color and allows it to photosynthesize.
Phosphorus, on the other hand, is crucial for the development of strong roots, while potassium is necessary for promoting overall plant health, stress tolerance, and disease resistance.
Most fertilizers come in either granular or liquid forms. Granular fertilizers are simply spread on top of the grass and watered in, while liquid fertilizers are usually applied with a hose-end sprayer.
Fertilizers can also be either organic or synthetic, with organic fertilizers generally being better at promoting long-term soil and plant health and synthetic fertilizers providing more instant, but often less sustainable results.
How Often Should I Fertilize My Lawn?
Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this question as the frequency with which you should fertilize your lawn depends on a variety of factors including the type of grass in your lawn, the quality of the soil it's growing in, and the unique climate where you live.
In general, you should plan on fertilizing your lawn twice a year using slow release fertilizers, but the ideal time to do so is largely dependent on the type of grass you have. For instance, It's best to fertilize cool-season grasses like Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass in the fall or spring, and warm-season grasses like Bermuda and St. Augustine should be fertilized in the late spring or early summer.
If you are not using slow release fertilizer, our recommendation is to use one-half the recommended dose and fertilize four times per year to help avoid a rapid growth then slow growth cycle. Fertilizing in Early Spring, Early Summer, Early Fall and Late Fall is our ideal fertilization schedule.
However, in addition to seasonal fertilization, you may need to fertilize your lawn more frequently if your grass is showing signs of stress or nutrient deficiency. Common signs of stress and nutrient deficiency include slowed growth and yellowing, thinning, or patchy grass, so if you notice any of these symptoms, it's probably time to apply more fertilizer.
Still, it’s just as important to ensure that you don’t over fertilize your lawn. While not applying enough fertilizer can be detrimental to the health of your grass, applying too much can be just as harmful, so always be sure to carefully follow the instructions on your fertilizer’s packaging.
If you are still unsure whether your lawn needs more fertilizer, the best thing you can do is test the soil in your lawn to see the exact levels of nutrients it contains, which will allow you to make a much more educated decision about whether or not your lawn needs additional fertilizer.