Change Your Lawn Fertilizer According To The Changing Seasons: How The Life Cycle Of Grass Affects Fertilizer Needs

Posted on: 11 July 2018

Fertilizing your lawn provides it with the vital nutrients it needs to develop strong roots and maintain a beautiful green color. Understanding the natural life cycle of your turf grass helps you understand what the lawn fertilizer is doing to keep your yard healthy. When you fertilize your lawn in accordance with the seasons, you support its growth all year long and even into the next year. Here's how the change of seasons affects how you should fertilize your lawn.

Spring

Grass springs to life when the soil temperatures hit roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit, ready to grow quickly. Fertilize your grass with nitrogen-rich fertilizer once the soil temperature reaches this level. If grass grows quickly in soil that lacks nitrogen, it will develop chlorosis, which causes the grass to become yellow and brittle. Keeping your grass well-fed with nitrogen helps it maintain a vibrant green color.

One caveat about fertilizing during the spring is that you don't want to over-fertilize your lawn. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on your fertilizer to ensure that you use the correct amount and spread it evenly on your lawn. Weed growth is especially high during the spring. When you over-fertilize your lawn, you end up nourishing the weeds along with your grass.

Summer

The heat of the summer sun is tough on your lawn. During the summer, your grass is at its most vulnerable – your soil becomes dry during the summer, which causes your grass to have difficulty absorbing enough water to survive without drying out. If you fertilized your grass well during the last fall, your grass has a better chance of surviving.

Avoid fertilizing your grass during the summer unless it's suffering from chlorosis. If you need to fertilize your grass, only use a small amount. The reason for this is that grass isn't very smart – if it has water and nitrogen, it will grow regardless of the summer heat. You don't want excessive growth during the summer, because this just increases your lawn's demand for water. The extra surface area from tall grass also contributes to your lawn drying out.

Fall

Fall is the most important time of the year to fertilize your lawn. If you only fertilize your lawn once a year, it should be in early September. You should use a fertilizer that's high in phosphorous, especially if a soil test has revealed that your soil is deficient in this mineral. Phosphorous aids in root growth, and putting down a strong root system is exactly what your grass needs to be doing during the fall.

A strong root system helps to minimize weed growth during the spring and helps to prevent your lawn from drying out in the summer. Fertilizing in fall is an important step in ensuring that your grass is ready for next year.

Winter

As temperatures drop, grass growth slows down until it stops completely when the soil temperatures dip below freezing. Since there's no growth, you don't have to fertilize your lawn during the winter. Grass lies dormant and won't take up the nutrients – they'll just run off of your lawn the next time it rains, which is bad for the environment.

You'll often see winterizer sold in stores during the fall. This is a fertilizer that's high in potassium meant to be applied right before the start of winter in order to increase your lawn's resistance to the cold. If your soil isn't deficient in potassium, then applying winterizer to your lawn isn't really necessary. However, this is one of the reasons why it's very important to do a soil test on your lawn – many fertilizer manufacturers are lowering the amount of potassium in their fertilizers because of environmental concerns, which has led some lawns to become deficient in this vital mineral.

To sum it up, the most important times to fertilize your lawn are early September (to help your grass develop strong roots) and when your grass begins to grow again in the spring (to prevent chlorosis.) By maintaining a consistent fertilizing regimen, you prevent your grass from drying out over the summer and help it maintain a deep green color all throughout the year.

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