When Should I Fertilize My Lawn?

Keeping your lawn looking healthy and green is a constant job. It takes a lot of dedication. A healthy lawn needs nutrients and the necessary minerals which may not be naturally provided by nature. The three main ingredients not provided by nature are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. The best way to provide these nutrients is by fertilizing. You can get any number of different fertilizers at any garden supply store or supermarket with a garden center. Most bags of fertilizer have all three ingredients but some only contain one. You can look on the bag and there should be a series of numbers such as 24-5-11 and so on. These numbers represent the percentage of each ingredient. Some bags may have numbers such as 0-0-12 which means it only contains one ingredient.

So you may be asking “When should I fertilize my lawn”? At the basic minimum, you should fertilize your lawn twice a year. The best time to fertilize is during the peak growth periods such as fall and spring. However, if your grass is looking yellow and has stopped growing, you might need to fertilize. Most people who have a really great looking lawn probably fertilize three or four times a year, spaced out at even intervals. But there are other factors involved in lawn care such as climate and type of grass. There are two types of grasses to use for your lawn: warm-season grass and cool-season grass. Each one has its own growth rate and their peak seasons are different as well. The topics below will explain the best time to fertilize your lawn.

How To Use Fertilizers Responsibly


One thing to consider before fertilizing your lawn is how to use fertilizers responsibly. Even though fertilizers are good for your lawn, you can over-fertilize your grass. Too much nitrogen or phosphorous can ‘burn’ your lawn and create areas of yellow or dead grass. If your lawn is not looking good, it may just need a good watering. Plenty of water is essential to a healthy lawn. Set up a schedule throughout the year for fertilizing and try to stick as closely to that as possible.

Another thing about fertilizers is the harm they can do to the environment. Chemical fertilizers, while good for the lawn, can pollute the local water source. During rain seasons, excess fertilizer can run off and spill into drains, creeks, and rivers. Fertilizer in the water can cause an overgrowth of algae and can kill all kinds of fish. Organic fertilizers are safer to use and far less harmful to the environment. The best kind is what is called ‘slow-release’ fertilizer. The best way to distribute fertilizer evenly and not waste it is to use a spreader.

Fertilizing Warm-Season Grass

Warm-season grass flourishes during the spring and summer months. You should really try to fertilize twice during this time period, once when the grass starts to turn green in the early spring and again in during the late summer months. If you live in one of the warmer southern states, you will want to apply a larger amount of nitrogen during the early-late spring months and then a lesser amount of nitrogen in the fall.

Fertilizing Cool-Season Grass

Cool-season grasses have two different growth periods. The first growth period is during the early spring when the lawn starts to perk up after being dormant all winter. The second period is during the early fall such as August or September when the temperature starts to cool off and there is more rain. For northern areas, it is best to use a larger amount of nitrogen during the early fall growing period and a lesser amount in the spring.

Some Fertilizing Tips

Here are some fertilizing tips & advice you should consider when its time to fertilize your lawn.

  • Every lawn is different and unique so not all schedules are going to be the same. Some lawns have better soil than others and thus need less fertilizing. Some climates receive more rainfall that others. Working out a time to fertilize your lawn is dependent on these factors so you have to customize accordingly.
  • You should never fertilize your lawn during a drought. Fertilizers need plenty of water to become effective. Without water, a fertilizer that just sits there can burn your lawn. If the area that you are living in is experiencing a drought, then just skip the scheduled fertilizer application and wait until the weather is more moderate.
  • Some fertilizers last longer than others. Always read the label on any fertilizer and find out its duration. Most last for several months but some may be longer. You should allow enough time to pass before you put down the next application or you could end up hurting the lawn.
  • Also, the best time to fertilize really depends on your personal schedule. Not everyone can drop what they are doing and go out to fertilize their lawn at an exact time. You have to work it into your busy life. As long as you fertilize your grass sometime during these periods your lawn should remain green and healthy.

For more information about when you should fertalize your lawn, read: