Fertilizing a lawn is a basic, yet necessary, component for lawn maintenance. The best fertilizer treatment is dependent on the type of lawn grass planted and quality of the soil. Apply fertilizer based on the results of a soil test, as this provides the best combination of nutrients for the lawn. Repeat the soil test every year to compensate for changes in the lawn nutrient requirements based on following a lawn fertilizer plan. A healthy, well-maintained lawn increases the durability of the grass and decreases the amount of time needed for upkeep.
Contact your County University Extension Office to have a full soil test completed on the lawn. Take random samples throughout the lawn area to get an accurate reading of the lawn nutrient requirements.
Leave grass clippings on the lawn after mowing to provide natural nutrients to the soil. Fine grass clippings will not cause thatch in the lawn as they decompose quickly.
Monitor lawn weeds, as this is a sign of nutrients lacking in the soil. High dandelion growth is due to an increase in soil pH and requires a treatment of ground rock sulfur to make the soil more acidic. Clover and medic growth is a sign the soil is lacking nitrogen and requires an application of compost or high nitrogen lawn fertilizer.
Purchase a lawn fertilizer blend based on the soil test results for the lawn. Choose a slow releasing water insoluble nitrogen formula to decrease the risk of nitrogen burn on the lawn.
Fertilize cool-season lawn grasses twice a year, first in the spring season and again in the fall season. Fertilize warm-season lawn grasses in the spring and each month during the growing season.
Aerate and de-thatch the lawn on an annual basis to increase the fertilizer and nutrient absorption of the grass by removing the build up of dead grass and debris at ground level. Aerator and de-thatching machines can be rented at garden supply or rental equipment stores.