Applying fertilizer to grass is an essential step in maintaining the look and health of your lawn. The right fertilizer can help eliminate that dull winter lawn look and restore damaged areas in the yard. But, if it’s not applied correctly, fertilizer can sometimes do more harm than good to your lawn, leaving it dry and discolored. Being knowledgeable about the different types of fertilizers, how they affect your grass, plus how to properly fertilize your lawn can help improve its growth and maintain its overall health.
Here are a few common spring lawn fertilization mistakes to avoid when restoring your yard for the warmer months.
Be Sure to Choose the Correct Fertilizer Formula
When it comes to fertilizing the lawn, Eric Rochow of GardenFork recommends keeping it simple. And that means measuring your lawn, understanding your fertilizer and applying it at the correct rate. Rochow shared insights on how to fertilize lawns in a recent Ask Troy Live event.
One of the most common mistakes gardeners make when tending to their lawn is choosing the wrong fertilizer. Factors like grass type, soil type, and your yard’s foot traffic and climate conditions should all be considered when shopping for a fertilizer. Knowing how to choose the right fertilizer can prevent the wrong combination of nutrients from poisoning your soil, affecting your grass and other nearby plants.
It’s also important to pay attention to the fertilizer numbers located on the packaging. Fertilizer numbers refer to the amount of core nutrients – nitrogen, phosphate and potassium – that the fertilizer contains. Being knowledgeable about fertilizer nutrients will help you select the best formula for your lawn. Keep in mind that some fertilizer brands tend to have more filler content than nutrients, so pay close attention to the ingredients before purchasing.
For spring fertilizer applications, you may want to consider using a slow time-release fertilizer formula versus a quick-release fertilizer formulation that will break down at once. This will help promote root growth over grass growth and can also help prevent fertilizer burn. It will allow you to go a bit longer between applications.
When you’re trying to regrow grass, be cautious of mixing weed control fertilizers and grass seed. Weed control formulas can prevent grass seeds from germinating.
Dethatching May Be Necessary
Dethatching is an essential step in maintaining the look and health of your lawn. Layers of dead organic material can accumulate on your grass beneath the snow. Before applying fertilizer, use a lawn dethatcher to remove this harmful material. Using a lawn dethatcher will better stimulate grass roots, while allowing fertilizer to penetrate the soil to germinate in a healthy manner.
How often to dethatch can vary from lawn to lawn, but lawns that are prone to accumulating thatch may need to be dethatched once a year. Check to see whether or not you can see the soil between blades of grass. If you can’t, you may want to inspect the thatch layer more closely and determine whether or not it can be easily penetrated.
Applying the Correct Amount of Fertilizer
While using too much grass fertilizer can be harmful to your lawn, using too little fertilizer can hinder grass growth. Overfertilizing causes nutrient buildup in the soil, which makes it hard for grass to absorb water.
When grass is underfertilized, the lack of nutrients in the soil attracts weeds and crabgrass. A soil test kit can help determine how much fertilizer and what nutrients are needed.