Every neighborhood has that one lawn that all the neighbors envy. You know the type: the grass is thick, green and not a weed is in sight.
What is the secret?
If you think that the owner must spend hours and hours to get the lawn like that, it may not be true.
That neighbor most likely knows that the easiest way to a thick, beautiful weed-free lawn is with regular feedings using a controlled-release fertilizer.
Lawns are like any other plant—it needs food to reach its full potential. The right nutrients will not only help the lawn become thick and green, but they will help the grass to become better adapted to drought situations and recovering from turf diseases.
Confusion about What to Do
Often, homeowners say fertilizing the lawn is confusing. Actually, it is easier than feeding flowers or vegetables. All plants need nutrients, and when those nutrients can’t be found in the soil they have to come from somewhere else. This is where plant foods become important.
The soils around the new houses of today do not have adequate nutrients to maintain a nice lawn. Consider when a new house is built: the contractors simply use the backfill to cover the lawn and then plant seed or sod. It is likely that the soil will be lacking in the proper nutrients.
For the most part, you can ignore the “expert” advice that says to test your soil then add nutrients based on the soil test. Granted, it isn’t bad advice, but it isn’t a necessary first step and soil tests can just add to the confusion. Soil testing is primarily for professional turf needs.
So how do you get started? First, know your grass type. Visit with your local nursery or gardening professional to find out what type of grass is in your lawn. If you are located in a state north of Tennessee and east of Denver, most likely your lawn is a combination of bluegrass, ryegrass and fine fescues. In the South, there are many different grass types, but the most common are St. Augustinegrass and bermudagrass.
After you know what kind of grasses you have in your lawn, visit your local garden store or Lawn Pro dealer and purchase the lawn program that is right for your lawn. Each bag of fertilizer will indicate how many square feet it covers (for example, it might say “5,000 square feet”), and it will tell you the recommended time to apply it to the lawn.
Remember, you’ll need a spreader to apply the product properly.
When Should I Feed the Lawn?
The first lawn feeding of the year should occur about the same time that the lawn comes out of dormancy after the winter. For practicality purposes, this is approximately the same time as the first mowing of the year.
After the spring feeding, simply follow-up every six to eight weeks with the appropriate application for that time of year. For example, if you apply a feeding in early April, then the next feeding should be done around the end of May or early June.
At the minimum, a lawn should be fed in the spring and fall. But for best results, an annual lawn care program should be followed that contains 4 to 6 feedings per year.
Why an Annual Lawn Care Program?
As stated previously, a lawn that is fed regularly will develop a thick, green turf that is weed-free, better suited to drought-like conditions and less likely to suffer from turf diseases.
With regular feedings, the root system will fill in bare spots naturally, and weed seeds won’t have a place to germinate because the thick turf will cover all of those bare areas. Plus, if you use a spring weed, you will feed the lawn and kill weeds at the same time.
There are also fertilizers that are made specially for summer and late fall. Others combine the fertilizer and an ingredient to fight insects or prevent crabgrass from germinating—such things that can ruin a nice lawn.
Start an annual lawn care program at any time of the year, just remember to follow up with regular feedings for that thick, green, healthy lawn that your neighbors will envy.
And they’ll think you spent hours to get it that way.