When to fertilize?


Old 06-14-13, 10:55 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 445
When to fertilize?

I've spent the last 8 years getting my lawn into shape, making mistake after mistake, but learning. My lawn is in very good shape..finally.

My question is:

I had my most recent soil test done in 2012 and it recommends to apply fertilizer (as noted in the test) 3 times per year in my area:

1) mid-spring (may)
2) late summer (sept)
3) late fall (nov).

Normally I fertilize:

1) late march
2) late may
3) early to mid sept

So I'd be applying my 2nd round by now. Is that too much? I feel like the application in late march was a long time ago?
I feel like in my area those are the best growing times and so I fertilize then. But maybe that's wrong.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 06-14-13, 12:11 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 18,551
Like many things in life there is no hard and fast rule. If you have a big party or something planned and want the lawn greened fertilizing can be done at different times if you are ready to deal with the consequences. Otherwise your plan seems pretty sound. Late May may be acceptable for your location but is a bit late for me in NC.

I generally fertilize twice a year though occasionally do it three times. I do the first in the early spring when I notice that the grass has started growing. The timing can vary from year to year but generally it's in March. Then if I'm going to do another fertilizing I do a light application in early to mid May and use a balanced fertilizer that is NOT high in nitrogen. My last fertilizing is around late September or into October.

Basically you don't want to force the grass to try and grow a lot during the summer heat. Growth takes water and if enough water is not available the fertilizer can "burn" the grass. You also have to be careful giving a lot of nitrogen during wet periods which may seem counter intuitive. The water helps the grass utilize the nitrogen for rapid, green growth but the soft new growth is susceptible to fungus and other diseases which are promoted by prolonged periods of wet or over watering.

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