When to fertilizer your grass

Whether you have cool-season grass or warm-season grass, the general rule of thumb for the best time to fertilize your lawn is when it’s actively growing. A lawn can be a labor of love, providing a place for the kids to kick the ball, to lay down a blanket for a picnic or even as a foil for the flower garden; a lawn can be beautiful to celebrate.

Planning the lawn’s fertilizer care around traditional times to celebrate is a convenient way to remember when to do so. When to fertilize will depend on the type of grass you have.  There are two types of grasses:  Cool-season and warm-season. Don’t know if you have a cool-season or a warm-season grass?  Remember this: Cool-season grass are those grasses actively growing when its cool, and its green in the summer, as well as, the winter.  Common cool-season grasses include fescues, bent grass, and bluegrass.  Cool-season grasses tend to flourish in the spring after breaking winter dormancy and in early fall, when temperatures moderate and droughts and heat waves are typically behind us. Warm-season grass are those grasses actively growing when its warm, and its green in the summer and the color of hay in the winter.  Common warm-season grass include Zoysia, Centipede, and Bermuda.  Warm-season grass tend to flourish during the warmer summer months, and therefore require fertilizing shortly after green-up in the spring and again in the late summer months.

The following table are general fertilizing guidelines that can be used to help determine when to fertilizer your lawn. Before you begin using the table as a reference, there are a few things to remember:

  • Have your soil tested to find out exactly what nutrients your lawn needs.  The simplest way to avoid over-fertilizing your lawn is to have your soil tested.  Most states offer soil testing services; often this service is free.
  • Lawns are often over-fertilized or when applied, it over spreads onto the property’s impervious surfaces, such as the sidewalk, driveway and the street.  The fertilizer is then washed away with rain or the sprinkler system ending into the stormwater drains which then goes into our lakes and streams.  After you apply fertilizer, be sure to sweep any overspray from impervious surfaces into the grass.
  • Do not apply fertilizer to frozen ground or if heavy rain is in the weather forecast. Fertilize your lawn when the grass is dry. After fertilizing, water the lawn to wash the fertilizer off the grass blades and into the soil.
Warm Season Grasses Cool Season Grasses Fertilizer 15-15-10 CELEBRATE Valentine’s Day
Fertilizer 15-5-3 Fertilizer 16-15-3 Easter/Passover
Fertilizer 26-6-10 Summer Solstice
Fertilizer 15-5-15 Fertilizer 25-8-15 Labor Day
Fertilizer 15-5-20 Fertilizer 15-5-20 Halloween/Thanksgiving

By: Helen Yoest The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening - your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

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3 Responses to When to fertilizer your grass

  1. Pingback: Flower Garden - How to Construct Raised Garden Beds : Spreading Fertilizer for Raised Garden Beds - Information

  2. molly fettig says:

    I appreciate your site with the information about when to fertilize the grass. We had a lot of crab grass last year and I pulled as much as I could out by HAND! Could you suggest what to use so we can rid the crabgrass this year? Any suggestions about grass will be helpful. Thank you Molly P. Fettig

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