The USDA mandates that products sold as soil nutrients must have their essential nutrients displayed on the container. These numbers represent percentage by weight. The order of the numbers is- Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. If there is a fourth number it represents Sulfur and would not be good on turf (Sulfur is an acid-loving plant food good for Azaleas and other acidic-soil plants). Choosing the right fertilizer at the right time of year is important to the lawn’s health. Using the wrong fertilizer can burn your grass or promote poor root growth. The biggest thing to watch is your Nitrogen content. Using a fertilizer with High Nitrogen content during the middle of Summer will burn the grass. Always check the bag for application rate. Nitrogen promotes overall growth and makes grass that green color that everyone wants. Phosphorus and Potassium promote root growth. The following schedule gives a pretty good idea of when certain things need to be done.
November, December and January
This is a good time to apply lime. Lime will bring the soil to a pH level that is good for grass and bad for weeds. Lime is also a soil softener, it will help to prevent soil compaction.
Depending on when the season starts or weather conditions, you will want to put out pre-emergent fertilizer BEFORE the grass begins to grow. Pre emergent fertilizer will prevent a lot of seed-weeds from germinating, but be careful because it will also prevent grass seed from germinating (so you will want to seed in the Fall - mid September to mid October before all the leaves from trees are down)
Or do nothing in February, and do a combination of weed and feed early in March. it may help save some money!
This is the time for the second fertilizer application. You will want to wait about 6 weeks between applications. (if you have not had much rain you may want to wait a couple extra weeks). This application should be a high nitrogen (the first number in the formula) fertilizer. Use a fertilizer with nitrogen content between 20 and 32. An ideal fertilizer for this application would be 28-10-20.
The first week of April is a good time to apply crabgrass pre emergent, it will prevent crabgrass and some other weed-grasses seed from germinating.
It’s time to start thinking about Summer. Put out a fertilizer with low Nitrogen and high Phosphorus and Potassium. This will give the root system a boost before the dry season comes on. Remember to use a very low nitrogen on this application, a good fertilizer would be 5-20-20.
If you want to boost the green on the lawn at this time of year use pelletized iron.This will give you the green without burning the lawn like nitrogen will.
This is generally the hottest month of the year. (Remember, if you are watering only do it early in the morning). Late in the month put a light application of a fertilizer with a 0 nitrogen content. A rating of 0-15-15 will be good to prepare the soil for Aeration and seeding. If you have broadleaf weeds apply a spray weed killer. Be sure that the spray is a broadleaf weed killer only (this will be listed on the bottle). If you have crabgrass, spot spray a herbicide on the center of clumps (keep the spray low to the ground so you only kill the crabgrass). All of this will prepare the lawn for fall aeration and seeding
Mid September to mid October
Aeration/over-seeding. Aeration controls soil compaction, and helps the development for stronger root system to the lawn. After aeration and over seeding the lawn, it is recommended to fertilize with a medium fertilizer (12-10-10).
Around mid to the end of the month, put out a high nitrogen fertilizer to keep the lawn green through winter.
Congratulations, we made it to another year just to become older. Happy Holidays, a new year is about to emerge!