Now for the secret formula…how often to fertilize. The answer is simple and not what you would expect. The amount that you need is…just enough and not more!
Professional landscapers have charts that measure the optimum amount of each nutrient for each type of soil condition and grass species. The results are spectacular. Grass grows lush, full, and bright green. At the same time, it may need to be cut 2 or 3 times a week and the forced growth makes it highly susceptible to bugs, lawn diseases, and errors.
For our easy lawn care, we’re going to modify our how often to fertilize schedule by the 60% rule. We’re going to lighten way up on the feedings, cutting our fertilizer usage way down from the professional care level, reducing cutting and maintenance substantially, and ending up with a healthier lawn.
For most lawns, 2 or 3 feedings a year are enough, but the timing will surprise you.
If you can only feed your lawn once a year, use a good quality lawn fertilizer around Labor Day. Fall is the best growing season, and an application at this time will help the grass strengthen and the roots grow right up until the ground freezes.
A second feeding in the Spring will help your lawn green up earlier. This is also a good time to apply a pre-emergent weed and crabgrass preventer. This is covered in more detail later, a pre-emergent stops weed seeds from growing.
Timing two feedings this way will keep your grass growing and healthy through most of the growing season and allow your lawn to rest a bit during the stressful summer dry times.
The next step up on the lawn care ladder adds another feeding late Fall, just about Halloween. Once again, use a high quality fertilizer made for Fall use. Fall fertilizer generally has a bit less Nitrogen and more Potassium and Phosphate for less top growth and more root growth.
Unless you have an automatic watering system, avoid late Spring feedings. Your grass needs water to live and forcing growth with fertilizer might result in depleting the plant’s stores and weakening or killing your grass.