How To Apply Lawn Fertilizer -

How To Apply Lawn Fertilizer

how to apply lawn fertilizer image

We know from experience that many of you want a better looking lawn and want to know how to get that result.  In this article we wanted to tell you how to apply lawn fertilizer giving you some practicle lawn care diy advice.

We know if you're reading this you want a healthy and lush lawn, but you don't want to pay professional lawn care companies to get it. We understand and you're not alone. Many people feel this way.

As a matter of fact, within our client list, many people hire pros to treat their lawns, but often times question whether the price is too high, or whether they actually need all the treatements. After all, those treatments can add up to a hefty yearly charge.

The thing to remember is this. Healthy grass uses nutrients to grow. When a lawn gets an application of fertilizer, the grass absorbs it over time and uses it up. Ideally then, to keep the grass green and growing, fertilizer needs to be reapplied.

So yes, multiple treatments throughout the growing season are needed to keep you lawn healthy and growing, and you'll want to do this every year to keep it looking nice.

When To Apply Fertilizer To Your Lawn

It's generally accepted that you should be fertilizing every 6-8 weeks.

In our region of zone 6, professional companies often recommend 6 treatement over the course of the year - one in early spring, one in late spring, 2 over the summer and 2 over the fall. Is this overkill? Probably, at least in our region where the growing season typically lasts from April through October. Of course, if your growing season is longer, this may be warranted. Conversly, if you live in an area with shorter growing seasons, you might be OK with less treatments.

Art and I generally do it on a 2 month schedule. That means, here in our mid-Atlantic location of the U.S., the first application is done in early spring; that is, March.

After that, we apply more in May, July, and September for a total of 4 treatments for each client.

Some people would suggest to do another application in late October. However, in our location, by that time, there is often a frost, which slows the grass growth considerably. It wouldn't make sense to apply fertilizer at this time of the year, just when the grass is slowing down or even stopped growing. If you live in a climate that sees growing through November, it might be OK to apply more in October.

Here are more details about each fertilizer treatment that you should know.

    • Early Spring - This is the time of the year when plants, including your grass, are starting to come out of dormancy. This is when you want to apply a fertilizer that will not only help the grass get a strong foothold for the year, but also address weeds that are about to pop out. Therefore, the fertilizer you will apply now is different than the one you'll use for the remainder of the year.  In spring you'll apply a granular fertilizer that includes a pre-emergent; that is, a weed control, including crabgrass control, which prevents germination of some weeds (hence the name pre-emergent - before they emerge).  This addresses that annoying weed "crabgrass" which will take over the lawn very quickly and smother that actual grass.  If you wait too long, or delay the application because you forget or are busy, the weeds will germinate and you're too late.
crabgrass image

Image Of Crabgrass Within Lawn

  • Early Summer - Apply straight granular fertilizer. This keeps the grass growing, green and healthy. It's important that this application occurs when the grass is growing well. That means it's getting water, either through rain, or manual watering. Generally, you DO NOT want to apply fertilize to a stressed lawn - one that's dried out and brown. We have seen many clients kill their grass by doing this. If in doubt, always read the label on the bag and follow the directions.
  • Late Summer - Another application of straight granular fertilizer. The same conditons apply here as in early summer.
  • Early Fall - This will be the final application of straight granular fertilizer. Besides spring, early fall is another very important time in your lawn's life. Fertilizing now will maiximize root growth, getting it strong and healthy as it goes into dormancy over the winter. If you do this, when it wakes back up in the spring, it will be healthy and strong right from the start. Conversly, weak grass in the spring will require more attention to get it growing strong, so don't forget your fall fertilizer!

How To Apply Lawn Fertilizer With A Spreader

It's extremelty important that you NOT apply fertilizer by hand, simply by grabbing handfulls and scattering it around the lawn.

First, you don't want to get it on your hands, but more importantly, it needs to be applied evenly over the lawn.

If you manage to have areas where the coverage is too heavy, you'll experience the dreaded fertilizer burn. Too much in one spot will do the opposite of what you want - it will kill your grass, not help it grow!

I have lost track of how many current and former clients made this mistake and asked us to come in and fix their lawns after they were burned by the fertilizer. Three very simple things you must do to prevent fertilizer burn are:

  1. Don't apply in hot dry weather. Make sure your grass is growing and not yellow because of hot weather and drought.
  2. Read the label and follow the directions.
  3. Use a spreader
image of spreader

Image Of Spreader

Spreaders are very easy to use. We use the walk-behind versions, not the handheld. Do yourself a favor and do the same. Your arms will thank you.

Your spreader includes a dial, where you set how fast the fertilizer comes out. The higher the number, the faster it comes out so the heavier it will be applied.

spreader dial image

Image Of Settings Dial On Spreader

What setting should you use? Well, there's no guesswork involved. Read the fertilizer instructions on the bag and look for instructions on the spreader itself for the recommended dial setting.

Once it's set, pour the fertilizer into the spreader and roll it ahead - squeezing the lever to release it. Walk in straight lines. When you get to the end of the row and need to turn around, stop, release the lever so no fertilizer is released, turn around, squeeze the lever, and walk back, being careful not to overlap the spread of the fertilizer. This will prevent too much from being applied to the same area, potentially burning the lawn.

Don't fret the overlap too much. It happens from time to time. You just want to make sure you do it as little as possible.

Once your lawn is covered, you're done, and there you have it. Easy, really!

Which Lawn Fertilizer Should You Use?

At this point, we've explained how to apply lawn fertilizer and when to apply it. There's only 1 thing left. What fertilizer should you buy?

Well, we've used the same fertilizer now for decades and it works. When something works, you don't change it, and we haven't.

We use Scotts Turf Builder and we swear by it.

Although Scotts makes a number of fertilizers for different locations and different climates, we only use 2 of them and these work for us - not that the others don't, we just don't have first hand knowledge of how they work.

Fertilizer For Spring with Crabgrass Control

Note:  (Be sure to order the correct sized bag for the size of your lawn)

CLICK HERE to find out more.

Fertilizer For Summer And Fall

Note:  (Be sure to order the correct sized bag for the size of your lawn)

CLICK HERE to find out more.

We like to remember it this way... the blue bag for spring and the green bag for all other applications.

Finally, we couldn't send you on your way without giving you our preferred spreader.

We use Scotts fertilizer so we also use a Scotts spreader.  Matching these 2 things ensures the dial settings recommended on the bag correspond with the spreader we are using.

Decades, I'm telling you, we've used this same spreader and it works.  Here ya go:


The spreader we use is also Scotts.

You can't go wrong.

CLICK HERE to read more about this spreader on Amazon

Here's a great video we found, showing you exactly what we've been talking about.

There you have it.  Your complete guide on how to apply your lawn fertilizer.

This is one of the biggest things that will make a difference in your lawn, but it's not the only one.

See our ACTION PLAN here:  HOW TO GET A GREEN LAWN FAST for more factors affecting your lawn.

Doing it yourself will save you money and give you the satisfaction of saying to yourself "My lawn looks great. Job well done."

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)