When To Fertilize Your Lawn: An Easy Guide

When To Fertilize

Knowing when to fertilize your lawn is the first step to healthy, dense, green grass. Not to mention, knowing when you should fertilize your lawn and getting on a schedule will have those pesky weeds running for the hills-- big hills, not found in your yard, or Nebraska for that matter!

In this post we’ll talk about when to fertilize your lawn, we’ll give you some helpful facts on fertilizing, we will provide a fertilizing schedule for your lawn,  a watering/aerating schedule, and mowing instructions.

If you have any questions or would like to get put on our fertilizing program then either call us at 402. 397. 5930 or email us at hello@groundscapesne.com

Fast Facts About Fertilizing Your Lawn

Nitrogen is your lawn’s best friend.

Nitrogen is every lawn’s most important ingredient. Each type of grass demands different amounts to display peak growth and performance. With most friends, you can typically only handle them in small amounts of time, well, the same is true for nitrogen and grass. Your grass can only handle so much nitrogen.  If there is too much nitrogen, then your grass will grow incredibly fast, and you’ll be mowing and picking up grass all day long. The trick is to get green grass, without it growing at an insane rate-- all about the balance.

Fertilizing affects maintenance level.

How often you fertilize your lawn affects not only lawn appearance, but also maintenance level. The more you fertilize, the more you’ll have to mow. You want to hit the sweet spot where you are maintaining a green, healthy lawn but not having to spend every two seconds outside mowing it. Getting on a schedule helps.

Slow release is the best way to go.

Slow-release fertilizers break down their nutrients over a longer period of time, so you can wait longer between applications. When you use a slow-release fertilizer you can go every six to eight weeks, depending on the watering schedule your lawn is on, instead of every four weeks.

The way you spread the fertilizer impacts performance.

Unfortunately, you can’t just aimlessly throw fertilizer on the ground, and get a green lawn, although that would be the more fun route. There are different tools that you can use to spread the fertilizer. What you should use will be dependent on your lawn and how big it is.

Benefits Of Fertilizing Your Lawn

→ Fertilizing your lawn regularly provides the nutrients your lawn needs to look its best and withstand the stresses of weeds, heat, drought and family activity-- like summer barbecues, slip n slides, or backyard football games!

→  Regular feedings are the fastest, most affordable way to care for your lawn, keeping problems out of your yard, and into your neighbors. Kidding.  

→ Knowing when to fertilize your lawn gives grass the nutrients it needs for deep roots and strong, full blades.

→ Fertilizer is grass’s food. Grass simply cannot thrive with just water. Your grass doesn’t appreciate when you put it on a diet; it wants 6 meals a year.

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Lawn Fertilizer Schedule

First Application → Late March or Early April

This application depends on the soil temperatures. The soil should be around 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you apply your first round of fertilizer. You’ll know your lawn is ready to fertilize when it starts to turn green from the winter, and flowers are just beginning to bloom.

Second Application → Middle of May

Third Application → Early July

Fourth Application → Middle of August

Fifth Application → September through October

Sixth Application → Applied October through November

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When should you water your lawn?

Maintaining a consistent watering schedule is the key to thick, beautiful, and healthy grass. It will prevent heat stress that breaks down the pre-emergent weed and crabgrass barriers that are established in the first two applications of the season.

Broadleaf weeds and crabgrass will break through if water is not consistently applied to the lawn.

Signs of lack of water include thin turf, browning, and greying turf.

Water 3 times a week for a total of 1 inch during the spring and fall months and 1.5 inches a week during the summer months or extended periods of drought

Adjust watering based on the amount of rain → A rain sensor can be  installed on to your sprinkler system to help with over-watering and  avoid having to continually adjust your controller

Avoid light daily watering which will weaken the root system and can lead to fungus issues

  • Water deep every 2-3 days to help strengthen the roots → Keep in mind that overwatering is not only wasteful but can also have detrimental effects on the grass
  • Typically with a residential lawn, you will need to water 3 days a week for approximately 1 hour per area in the heat of the summer to provide the necessary moisture
  • During the spring and fall months you should be closer to 15-30 minutes 3 times per week
  • Keep in mind that wide open areas exposed to the sun all day will need more water than shaded areas and adjust water amounts accordingly

If grass does not spring back up after walking on it or begins to show a grey appearance, it is time to water!

When should you aerate your lawn?

It is recommended that all turf areas be core aerated with a mechanical aerator once a year at a minimum to relieve compaction, permit penetration of moisture and nutrients. For best results complete in the spring and fall with over-seeding done at the same time in the fall as well.

when should you mow your lawn

When should you mow your lawn?

The height at which grass is mowed plays a very vital role in the overall health of the plant. Mow high! This puts less stress on the plant, shades the crown, and reduces evaporation of water. By mowing high, you will shade the soil reducing the amount of weeds, and the root depth will increase significantly developing greater drought tolerance.

  • A consistent mowing height of 3”-4” is ideal all season long

  • Mow every 7-10 days

  • It is unnecessary to bag grass clippings unless you are cutting more than 4” off at once or clumping cannot be avoided → Doing so removes vital nutrients that the grass has moved from the soil and roots to the leaf of the plant. By returning grass clippings to the turf, you are recycling those nutrients as well as providing necessary thatch that will aid in moisture retention.

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First Application → Pre Emergent

  • Slow release fertilizer plus crabgrass preventer
  • Applied in late March or early April depending on soil temperatures and rate of spring growth
  • Creates a vapor barrier which lasts 8-10 weeks to control weeds before they germinate
  • As with all applications, we will spot spray for weeds as necessary and recommend additional applications if we notice anything wrong with the lawn
  • Stay off turf areas until dry
  • Avoid watering and any unnecessary traffic to turf areas for approximately 24 hours to allow products to dry and settle

Second Application → Pre Emergent

  • Slow release fertilizer plus crabgrass preventer  
  • Applied in the middle of May
  • We will spot spray for weeds as necessary
  • Stay off turf areas until dry
  • Avoid watering and any unnecessary traffic to turf areas for approximately 24 hours to allow products to dry and settle
  • Shortly after this time is when fungus issues may become noticeable → Please let us know if you start to notice any brown patches or anything else out of the ordinary in the lawn

Third Application → Grub Control

  • Applied in early July and is a slow release fertilizer plus season-long grub control
  • We will spot spray for weeds as necessary
  • Stay off turf areas until dry
  • Avoid watering and any unnecessary traffic to turf areas for approximately 24 hours to allow products to dry and settle
  • Monitor lawn and let us know if you see anything out of the ordinary
  • Increase watering times in the summer months to compensate for higher temperatures and less precipitation

Fourth Application → Summer Fertilizer

  • Applied in the middle of August
  • Acts as a slow release fertilizer to keep the grass green during the summer months
  • We will spot spray for weeds as necessary
  • Stay off turf areas until dry
  • Avoid watering and any unnecessary traffic to turf areas for approximately 24 hours to allow products to dry and settle
  • Monitor lawn and let us know if you see anything out of the ordinary
  • Increase watering times in the summer months to compensate for higher temperatures and less precipitation

Fifth Application → Fall Fertilizer

  • Applied September through October
  • Acts as a slow release fertilizer to help grass recover from summer stress
  • We will spot spray for weeds as necessary
  • Stay off turf areas until dry
  • Avoid watering and any unnecessary traffic to turf areas for approximately 24 hours to allow products to dry and settle
  • Keep an eye out for areas of browning or discolored turf that don’t respond to water → this can be a sign of grubs or a late-season fungus issue

Sixth Application → Winterizer

  • Applied October through November
  • Helps promote root growth all winter long and early spring
  • We will spot spray for weeds as necessary
  • Stay off turf areas until dry
  • Avoid watering and any unnecessary traffic to turf areas for approximately 24 hours to allow products to dry and settle
  • See you in the spring!

Broadleaf/Crabgrass Weed Control

Although we spot treat weeds during each visit additional chemical applications may be suggested throughout the season that will be applied to all turf and landscape beds to kill any broadleaf and any other obnoxious grasses or weeds.

We are happy to provide you with mowing services and help you spend more of your free time enjoying your lawn rather than constantly maintaining it. Call us at 402-397-5930 for more details and a free estimate.