Nothing says natural beauty like a house with healthy trees and lawn, which is easily achieved when you fertilize your lawn.
While Chop Doc is taking care of your trees, let`s consider the following tips to maintain the health of your grass and to keep your lawn looking lovely as ever.
Prior to Fertilizing
1. Do the Soil Test
This test will take only a couple of minutes of your time to complete. You can find a cheap soil testing kit from most lawn and garden stores that will help determine what nutrients your soil may be lacking. You may not be able to tell what nutrients are needed if you don’t know how to interpret your kit’s readings, so you may have to get your results interpreted by a Lowe’s Garden Center associate. The associate will help you discover the appropriate nutrients for your soil. For example, if your soil is highly acidic, then powdered lime is needed to restore the nutrient balance of your soil. If your soil is extremely dense, then gypsum is needed to restore the nutrient balance of your soil.
2. Soil Aeration
Remember to aerate the soil in spots where the thatch layer is over ½ inch thick. Your lawn will appreciate soil aeration because it creates tiny holes in the soil to expose the root zones of the grass, which intensifies the impact nutrients from your fertilizer and water will have on your yard’s health. To maximize this moment, try renting a core aerator to loosen up the soil by pulling it up in small plugs. However, you need to keep in mind this machine is heavy duty and requires a lot of strength to use it — maybe even two people. You can do it alone if you have a core aerator attachment for your riding mower. In places where the riding mower cannot reach, you can use a digging fork to do the same work. Those planning on doing soil aeration need to make sure they fertilize the yard soon after doing so for best results.
3. The Importance of Watering Your Lawn when Fertilizing
Between one to two days prior to fertilizing your yard, you need to water it completely. As soon as the grass is dry, you can go ahead and fertilize the lawn. After fertilizing, it’s important to water the yard again to get excess fertilizer off the grass blades. For those who want to take advantage of the weather, you can opt to time your fertilizing to occur in between days that you know it’s supposed to rain. If you do this, make sure you don’t do it on days that the rainfall is heavy because it may end up removing all the fertilizer applied — especially if your yard has a slope. If the weather is very dry and the grass is all dried up and brown from thirst, don’t fertilize the grass.
When to Fertilize
4. Fertilize Often
Frequent fertilization of your lawn will produce a rich green colour, sturdy grass strands and a decrease in weeds. Depending on the Ph balance of your soil, your grass may need a large amount of nitrogen or a light amount to be at its best. Either way, keep in mind that frequent fertilizing will require more lawn maintenance, which means you will have to mow it more often.
5. Fertilizing During the Warm Season
The best time to fertilize your warm-season grass is before your grass starts the peak growing phase. The peak growing phase will be determined by the type of grass found in your yard. Those living in the southern states need to do their fertilizing during late spring (or early summer) before the grass begins the peak growing phase. The next time you fertilize should be in the latter part of the summer. If your grass doesn’t grow in the winter, then do not fertilize it after early September.
6. Fertilizing During the Cool Season
If your grass is considered cool-season, then you will need to use what most garden stores call winter fertilizer and do only one application during the fall season and again in either October or November (before the grass starts to fade in colour).
Types of Fertilizer Spreaders
7. Invest in a Rotary/Broadcast Spreader for Larger Yards
For larger yards, we recommend using the rotary or broadcast spreader. Place the spreader on a tarp prior to filling the hopper to prevent spillage. Check to see if the hopper is closed prior to filling it, and then start spreading your fertilizer along the yard’s perimeter. After you’ve covered the perimeter, go over the rest of the yard in an organized pattern using back and forth motion. If you need to overlap the pattern to make sure you have complete coverage, then do so.
8. Invest in a Drop Spreader for Suburban-Sized Yards
Drop spreaders are a bit expensive when it comes to fertilizer spreaders, but they are well worth the price if you have a suburban-sized yard. The best kind to get is the one for controlled fertilizer distribution because it will allow you to create an even layer as you go back and forth across the lawn. As with the broadcast spreader, you must also make sure the hopper is closed prior to use, and you may need to overlap the pattern to make sure you have complete coverage. After fertilizing, water your yard thoroughly to help the nitrogen soak into the ground (and help it wash off the roots).
9. Use the Handheld Broadcast Spreader for Smaller Yards
If you have a small yard or places where there’s a lot of shade, you can get a handheld broadcast spreader. To apply the fertilizer, all you need to do is walk an organized pattern and overlap to make sure you get complete coverage. You may opt to use a fertilizer with herbicide (canned weed-and-feed products) to use with this spreader.
10. Option 2 for Small Yards: The Handheld Pre-Calibrated Spreader
This handheld spreader is battery-powered and ideal for small yards, hills and other places that are hard to reach with a larger spreader. All you need to do is turn the feeder on and walk through your yard to fertilize it.
Kind of Fertilizers
Grasscycling is a term used to define the process of cutting your lawn and letting the clipped remains stay on the ground to act as part of your lawn’s fertilizer. This is a very economical way to fertilize your yard because of 100 lbs. of clipped grass can produce between three to four pounds of nitrogen. In places that yield a lot of grass clippings like Pennsylvania, grasscycling can be an invaluable method of getting your lawn healthy.
No fancy mulching equipment is needed, but you may decide to use a mulching mower blade instead of your regular blade. That way, the grass will be shredded into smaller portions and will be able to break down faster.
12. Using Compost as Fertilizer
Like grasscycling, there are other ways to fertilize your grass organically. A lot of homeowners have embraced the idea of using compost to fertilize their lawn because it’s environmentally friendly and it keeps them from violating any local laws against overfertilizing and contributing to groundwater contamination. Since compost has natural nitrogen levels, the substance is released gradually and does not pose the problem of nitrogen leaching. Your local code enforcement office and most garden supply stores should be able to tell you of any regulations your city may have on excess fertilization.
13. The Right Time to Apply Compost
Your yard is going to love compost. The nutrients from the organic material and microorganisms found in compost nourish the soil as well as the grass. If done during early spring, your lawn should get the boost needed to become very healthy. All you need to do is spread it around by the shovelful. You should always follow up your soil aeration with compost to nourish the roots. If overseeding your yard, the best time to use your compost is prior to overseeding. To avoid overfertilizing with compost, make sure the layer is thin, and grass blades can be seen sticking through the compost layer.
14. How to Evenly Spread Your Compost
You can use a stiff broom or a rake to spread your compost so that it gets between the grass blades. Watering the yard after applying compost (or timing your fertilizing with the weather as stated earlier) allows the soil to soak up the nutrients better.
15. Consider Organic Fertilizers
Stores like Lowe’s Garden Center also offer other fertilizers. You may have to apply them often since the nutrients are absorbed quickly by the soil. The following are common organic fertilizers found in most garden supply stores:
- Cottonseed meal: superior nitrogen content
- Superphosphate: A combination of sulfuric acid and rock phosphate to aid plants in the absorption of phosphorous
- Blood meal: A byproduct full of phosphorous that is provided by the meat-packing industry
- Greensand: Compost made of potassium, iron and marine sediments
- Fish emulsion: A fishy-smelling byproduct provided by the fish-processing industry that is often used for young plants
- Manure: Ideal for nourishing the soil but needs to be combined with compost (or sheep, rabbit or cow manure) to prevent plant burns if you use a hot manure like poultry, pig or horse.
16. Using Clover
Clover is a nice product to use on your grass (especially the roots) because of its ability to convert air from the atmosphere into pure nitrogen. It has been hailed as a favourite before the dawn of today’s herbicides, and it is highly resistant to most lawn pests and diseases. They blend in well with the grass blades and don’t require much upkeep.
Precautions When Fertilizing
17. Wear Protection when fertilizing
Wear gloves and protective eyewear when fertilizing your yard. Fertilizer contains nitrogen that can cause chemical burns when your skin is exposed to it.
18. Apply, but Don’t Overapply
Always check the label for proper usage amounts and use only half of the suggested amount. So, use half the amount on one part of the yard and half the amount on the other side of the yard.
19. Clean Up
Always clean up the equipment you used while fertilizing your yard — even your shoes. Any dry fertilizer left on the driveway needs to be swept up and returned to the bag (or placed in the trash. As mentioned earlier, prevent groundwater contamination by not allowing fertilized water to flow into a nearby stream or pond.
20. Properly Store Your Fertilizer After Each Use
After cleaning up, make sure you put the fertilizer and other fertilizing equipment up in a child- and pet-safe location that is preferably locked.
Follow These Simple Rools and Enjoy Your Lawn