Just like any other living thing, your lawn needs a few necessities in order to not only survive, but also to flourish. It needs sufficient water, adequate sunlight and oxygen, and it requires food to grow strong and lush enough to withstand the elements and combat weeds. However, you cannot simply dump fertilizer onto your lawn and hope for the best. There are many factors to consider in order to fertilize your grass properly.
Before applying fertilizer to your lawn, perform a soil test. Soil-testing kits will determine your lawn's pH balance, ascertain whether your soil is missing nutrients and reveal other facts about your lawn, such as whether it is excessively sandy or draining properly. This information will help you determine what type and and how much fertilizer you need. For instance, if your lawn has a low level of nitrogen, use nitrogen-rich fertilizer. You can find soil-testing kits at home improvement stores, garden centers or USDA Cooperative Extension System offices in your area.
If you want to fertilize your lawn only once each year, fall is the best season to do so. This will allow your lawn to establish deep roots, because it will soon be dormant--not actively growing as it would be in warmer, sunnier months. The grass will also grow thicker come springtime, which means it will prohibit many weeds from growing amid the lawn. However, you should apply fertilizer before the lawn does become dormant. Otherwise, you may actually encourage weeds. For a lush, verdant lawn, apply fertilizer two to four times a year.
There are several ways to apply fertilizer to your lawn. If you have a small lawn, you can apply the fertilizer by hand. Be sure to wear gloves when you apply the fertilizer by hand, and then use a lawn rake to spread it over the lawn. You can also use a handheld broadcast spreader, which has a dial that you turn to disburse the fertilizer. This option is also more suitable for a smaller lawn, as you will need to walk slowly as you turn the knob on the spreader. Drop-spreaders or walk-behind broadcast spreaders distribute fertilizer in several directions while you push it, similar to a lawn mower. This type of spreader is best if you want to apply fertilizer to a more sizable lawn.