The most important thing you can do for a lawn is to provide it with proper nutrition. A well-fed, healthy lawn has a better root system to combat heat, cold, drought, mowing, foot traffic and other stresses. A quality, granular, controlled-release fertilizer, allows grass plants to grow evenly, without starvation periods or heavy growth spurts. Controlled, even growth also minimizes grass clippings.
Most lawns require 4-5 feedings per year. Basically, the first feeding should coincide with the first mowing; and the last feeding when the grass is done growing for the year. The following is an example of a typical lawn care program.
Early spring (February to April) — Lawns wake up hungry from the winter months. A spring feeding strengthens roots and gets lawns off to a good start before the heavy growing season. In most regions, it is wise to apply a combination fertilizer with a pre-emergent to control crabgrass.
Late spring/early summer (May to June) — At this time grass is actively growing and using up nutrients, therefore it is important to supply the lawn with a proper feeding designed for this time of year. Since this also is a time when broadleaf weeds are actively growing, a combination fertilizer with broadleaf weed control is ideal (a “weed and feed”).
Late summer (July to August) — The hot days of summer result in grass that is stressed by heat, drought, foot traffic and insects. An application at this time will help your lawn recover from, and combat, these potential problems. Avoid applying a fertilizer when temperatures are over 90° F.
Early fall (September to October) — With cool nights, rainfall and morning dew, this is a great time to supply the lawn with the nutrients it needs to recover from and repair summer damage. An early fall feeding is one of the most important of the year, and is even more important if the summer feeding is skipped.
Late fall/early winter (November to December) — A final feeding before the winter months will strengthen roots and increase nitrogen storage for an early spring green up. At this time of year, roots remain active for just a couple of weeks after the top growth stops — energy reserves that are stored for the following spring.
The specific time of day you fertilize your lawn depends on weather conditions, and some fertilizers shouldn’t be applied if rain is in the forecast for 24 hours. Others need to be watered in. You should always read the directions on the back of the bag carefully before applying any fertilizer.