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Fertilizing your lawn

Established lawns generally don't need fertilization but if you’re going to fertilize, please review the following tips and video on fertilizing.

How to fertilize your lawn

When considering fertilizers, choose a slow-release variety. This will feed your plants slowly over time instead of the short burst of nutrition that quick release fertilizer provides. Quality slow-release fertilizers will provide proper balanced nutrition over time to develop a healthier plant and root system that combats heat, cold, drought and other stresses. Organic fertilizers, like compost, also add naturally-occurring material to the soil, which is important for air circulation, good water retention and drainage.

When should you fertilize?

Early summer (after your lawn begins to grow) and fall are the best times to fertilize. Fall fertilization increases winter hardiness of the grass and provides nutrients, especially potassium, which makes turf stronger. The specific time of day you fertilize depends on weather conditions, and fertilizers shouldn’t be applied if rain is forecast within the next 24 hours. Always read the directions on the bag carefully before applying any fertilizer.

Why use organic fertilizer?

Organic lawn fertilizer provides vitamins and minerals that your lawn uses to stay lush and green. This specialized variety of fertilizer might include animal proteins derived from processed animal products or waste, potash, seaweed, manure, compost and corn gluten meal.

Organic lawn fertilizer applied two to three times a year can take the place of many artificial treatments depending on the nutrient requirements of your lawn. It is important to remember that fertilizing is only one component of sound maintenance practices for a healthier lawn.

Testing your soil

Your lawn is only as healthy as the soil beneath it. Soil testing measures available plant nutrients in soil, how acidic soil is, and its organic matter content. You should test your soil because fertilizer and lime recommendations can be made for your lawn based on that information.

Soil testing involves two steps. First, collect a soil sample from your lawn. Second, send it to a laboratory for analysis. Since front and back yards are often treated differently, you should take separate samples from each area. Do not mix soil from lawns with soil from vegetable and flower gardens.

For more information, visit the YardSmart program