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A Complete Guide to Lawn Fertilizer

Even if you’re already using fertilizer on your lawn, you may not be maximizing your results. Here’s how you can.

Fertilizing your lawn can be deceptively hard. Sure, buying any bag and putting it down seems straightforward enough. But doing it effectively is often a whole other matter. For the best possible outcomes, fertilizer needs to align with your lawn’s needs, get applied in the best manner and more. Here are the benefits you need to know, the factors you need to consider and the actions you need to take when fertilizing your lawn.

The Benefits of Fertilizing Your Lawn

Your soil has limitations regarding the nutrients it can provide during your grass’s growing season. Sometimes, nutrients are even lost from standard lawn practices (e.g., removing grass clippings and leaves that would otherwise feed your lawn). For all of the energy required to grow your lawn, fertilizer is the fuel; it’s the key ingredient to make up for any nutrient deficiency and deliver what your soil doesn’t naturally have.

Beyond just ensuring lusher, greener and more even grass, fertilization done right can:

  • Reinforce seed development.
  • Prevent and reduce weeds.
  • Create a healthier ecosystem that better controls unwanted pests and insects.
  • Boost recovery from disease, drought and damage.

Four Steps for Fertilizing Your Lawn

When it comes to choosing and applying fertilizer, there are a lot of elements at play. From the ingredients of the fertilizer to your lawn’s makeup and size, you’re looking to strike a just-right balance. For peace of mind, less time expenditure and dependable results, a free lawn analysis can make a world of difference.

1. Choose a Fertilizer

The labels on fertilizer bags can be hard to understand. In most cases, the ideal fertilizer will be nitrogen-based and will consist of the following, in order of quantity:

  1. “N” or nitrogen, which helps out your grass’s color and growth.
  2. “P” or phosphorus, which ensures your grass is well-established and rooted.
  3. “K” or potassium, which helps enhance your grass’s resistance and strength.

Calculating the amount of nutrients your lawn needs will help you determine the best fertilizer match (soil testing can help here).

Other Key Considerations

  • Release type: Quick-release and slow-release fertilizers are both great options. The former will get you quicker results, while the latter can be more effective in the long term.
  • Organic vs. synthetic: Typically, organic fertilizer releases nutrients slowly, while synthetic releases them quickly (perhaps even too quickly). This often makes organic fertilizers the ideal choice, like the ones Fairway Green employs.
  • Your lawn’s size: Different fertilizer types will cover different sizes of yards.

2. Choose Your Application Method

Once you’ve landed on a fertilizer type, it’s time to pick your application method. Here are some of the most commonly used ones to consider.

  • Handheld applicators: These are good for small lawns, but the crank handle and small spread mean they are generally unrealistic for anything else.
  • Push-behind drop spreaders: These are great for ensuring even, neat rows, but if you’re covering a large area, they can take some time.
  • Broadcast spreaders: These are very similar to the push-behind ones, with the added bonus of being able to create a larger fertilizer spread (based on how fast you walk).
  • Liquid applicators: Only applicable for liquid fertilizers, these spray a fertilizer-water mix that’s easy to apply but may be hard to keep track of if you’re not used to it.

3. Determine the Timing

After you’ve got your method locked in, you’ll want to account for the following to ensure your timing is right.

  • Cool-season or warm-season lawn: Besides the different nutrient needs (which is why Fairway Green offers fertilization programs custom to cool- and warm-season lawns), your lawn type is a key factor in application timing.
    • Cool-season lawns: Apply in the fall and spring (when your grass is actively growing and temperatures range from 60-70 degrees consistently).
    • Warm-season lawns: Apply in late spring and early summer (when your grass is actively growing and temperatures are consistently in the 70s).
  • Weather: Try to time your application for when there won’t be rainfall within 24 hours (this can cause the fertilizer to run off and lose effectiveness).
  • Watering: Watering your lawn a few days before fertilizing will ensure it’s in prime condition to accept it.

4. Apply Your Fertilizer

No matter which fertilizer or application method you land on, make sure that you know the associated safety precautions before you get going. Then, you’ll generally want to start by applying the fertilizer to your lawn’s perimeter. After this, go back and forth across your lawn, allowing for some overlap with the path you previously took to ensure that every spot is completely and evenly covered.

Next Steps After Applying Fertilizer

  • Clean up: Removing any fertilizer from hard surfaces, like your driveway, will make sure that it doesn’t get back into your lawn when you water or it rains.
  • Watering: You should wait 24 hours after fertilizing to water your lawn. Then, when you do water your lawn, it should get a consistent water flow for a couple of hours so the fertilizer thoroughly sinks in.
  • Mowing: You should wait until after your first watering and/or rainstorm and ensure you’re mowing at a height that’s preferable for your lawn type.
  • Stay clear: Your fertilizer should have a label that gives a timeframe for when it’s okay for people and animals to walk on it.
  • Follow-up fertilizations: You should aim to fertilize your lawn every 6-8 weeks while it’s actively growing (this should equal about 2-4 applications per year).

Achieve the Best Fertilizer Outcomes With Fairway Green

In all likelihood, subpar fertilizer practices won’t destroy your lawn. That said, they can still end up doing more harm than good or, at the very least, having little positive impact. With a professional partner like Fairway Green, you ensure that you have cost-effective services from experts with a comprehensive understanding of your lawn and everything fertilizer can do for it. Get started with a free lawn estimate today.