When to Apply Fertilizer to Lawn

Timing is key for a lush lawn: discover when to apply fertilizer.

By: THURSD | 03-09-2023 | 5 min read
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A beautiful, green lawn is a dream for many homeowners. Achieving this dream involves a reliable friend - fertilizer. However, understanding when to apply fertilizer is just as crucial as knowing how much to use. In this article, we will dive deep into this topic, breaking it down into simple steps and explaining when to apply fertilizer to lawn for the best results.


Apply fertilizer to agriculture land


Getting to Know Your Grass

The first step in determining when to apply fertilizer to lawn is to figure out what type of grass you have. In the United States, there are primarily two types of grasses: warm-season and cool-season. Some areas also have a mix of both, known as transitional grasses.

Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass, thrive in cooler temperatures. They have their main growth periods in early spring and early fall when temperatures range between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. These grasses are like the early birds of the lawn world, preferring the mild weather.

To keep your cool-season grasses healthy, apply fertilizer more heavily in the fall and lightly in early spring. 

A good rule of thumb is to use 1 to 2 pounds of nitrogen-rich fertilizer per 1,000 square feet per year. Special winter fertilizers are available to protect your grass during cold months.

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses, like Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass, love the heat. Their prime growing season is during late spring and summer, when average temperatures range from 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. These grasses are the summer champions of your lawn.

If you’re in search of the best lawn fertilizer for summer, you need to get one that’s rightly balanced. Opt for a balanced lawn fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio of 3:1:2 or 4:1:2 during the summer months. This expert advice helps your lawn thrive even in the hottest weather. 

The gardening experts of The PlantBible suggest applying fertilizer when you see the grass turning green in the spring, and again after the peak summer heat has passed. 

For warm-season grasses, aim for 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen-rich fertilizer per 1,000 square feet per year. Make sure the fertilizer is fully absorbed before the hot weather arrives, and water your lawn after application.


Bermuda grass in lawn


Avoiding Dormant Periods

One important rule to remember is never to apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer when your grass is dormant. If your lawn is still in winter mode and not growing, delay the fertilizer application until it starts growing again. Fertilizing during dormancy can lead to a wasted effort.

Reading the Product Label

Before purchasing fertilizer, take the time to read the product label carefully. Some fertilizers release nutrients slowly over several months. To prevent over fertilizing, which can harm your lawn, ensure you leave enough time between applications.

If that doesn’t entertain you, take matters in your own hands and make your own fertilizer

Considering Weather Conditions

The weather plays a significant role in determining the best time to fertilize your lawn. Here are some weather-related factors to keep in mind:


If you're facing water restrictions due to a drought, it's best to postpone fertilizing. Most fertilizers need water to be absorbed properly. Applying them without adequate watering could damage your grass. It's wise to wait until wetter weather arrives.


After a heavy rainstorm, it's a good idea to wait a day or two before fertilizing. This allows the soil to dry out slightly, preventing runoff and ensuring the fertilizer reaches the soil. Applying fertilizer to dry grass also increases the chances of it being absorbed by the soil rather than sticking to the blades of grass.

The Ideal Fertilizing Time

For the best results, aim to fertilize when the ground temperature reaches around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually happens as winter transitions into spring, and the ground warms up for several days. Fertilizing before this time may not yield the desired results.

When fall rolls around, typical fall ground temperatures should be suitable for fertilizer application. But if it gets chilly after a frost, you've missed your window. In that case, you'll have to wait until the following spring.


Reseeded time


Fertilizing Reseeded Lawns

If you've recently reseeded your lawn, there are specific considerations:

Using Starter Fertilizer

It's okay to apply fertilizer to a newly reseeded lawn, but you'll want to use a product designed for this period, often referred to as "starter" fertilizers. These products typically have a nitrogen to phosphorus ratio of about 1:1.

Seeds need phosphorus to develop strong roots and resist disease. Nitrogen is used for leaf development. So, after about 6 to 8 weeks, switch to a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to promote leaf growth.

Seeding a Brand-New Lawn

If you're in the process of creating a completely new lawn, it's a good practice to fertilize your soil with starter fertilizer before spreading the seed. This is also a perfect time to check the overall health of your soil, which can be done with a readily available soil test kit.

Final Words

Understanding when to apply fertilizer to lawn is essential for achieving that lush, green carpet of grass. By identifying your grass type, considering the season, and following these simple guidelines, you can keep your lawn healthy and beautiful year-round. 

Gardening sure is fun but requires dedication and commitment as well. And with the right timing, you can get a healthier lawn in no time. So, remember these tips and get ready to enjoy your thriving, green oasis!



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