Many people are in the habit of fertilizing their lawns at the exact same time every spring. They go shopping at Costco and see the Scotts bag for sale and think that it must be that time of the year again. Miracle-Gro (owner of Scotts lawn fertilizer) recognized this also. They actually noticed a lot of things about consumers buying habits and have managed to create a program based on selling products and NOT necessarily what the lawn needs. Each year they started shipping and selling their products a little earlier and earlier. So what is the answer to when you should fertilize your lawn in the spring? Well I'm sorry but its not a black and white answer. There are a few variables. What? You thought I was just gonna give you a one size fits all date like New York state does and says after April 1st?
Since I live and service lawns in the North East, I am only going to give you a detailed answer for northern grasses. Northern Grasses are Kentucky Blue, Rye, and Fescue. Most lawns are made up of a mix of all three. Some lawns up here have Zoysia growing in them, which is more of a tropical grass that turn brown soon as it gets cold and doesn't turn green again until it stays consistently warm. Which brings me closer to the answer. It really depends on soil temperature. NOT air temps but soil. The grass doesn't know the winter is over and its time to start feeding on that delicious nitrogen fertilizer until the ground temps are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes more than a few warms days to get the ground there also.
Typically if your up here in New York then its around mid April. However this year 2020 has been an extremely mild winter with minimal snow fall so the first application might go down a little earlier than typical years. Stick a thermometer in the ground to see what it registers at. Or , when it has been consistently warm and you notice it starting to green-up on its own then go for it. There is no exact time. If your yard is on a regular service schedule then there is a good chance the grass blades and roots have stored nutrients from previous applications such as the winterizer app and the soil has some trapped as well waiting till the time is right. Now if you put it down to early is that bad. Yes!! My next post Ill explain why along with answers to questions like, Should you apply a pre-emergent with that first application? What kind of fertilizer should you put down? Remember... Grass comes and goes but your soil is forever.
- Jamie Bellucco
Founder Weed Patrol
Creating the best lawns on the block!