Fertilizer on a fresh lawn.

When Is the Right Time to Fertilize Your Lawn?

Fertilizing at the right time is one of the keys to transforming even the thinnest lawn into a verdant oasis. In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about the lawn fertilization process that will yield lush and healthy results.

What to Know About Lawn Fertilization

Understanding the Fertilization Process

Before discussing when to fertilize your lawn, let’s delve into the reasons this process is vital in lawn care.

The soil in your backyard originally had all the essential nutrients plants and grasses need to thrive. But because of many variables, like soil erosion, water runoff, and leaching, some nutrients will have been depleted or lost over time.

Lawn grasses require several micronutrients and macronutrients to remain healthy and perform their essential functions. Among these nutrients, three are vital for grass growth: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Most fertilizer products contain these nutrients; they only differ in concentration.

The grass may still grow without fertilizer, but it won’t be as healthy and lush. Weak turf growth will eventually lead to weed and pest infestation in your lawn. The purpose of fertilization is to supplement the soil with the essential nutrients it lacks, helping the grass develop green blades capable of withstanding heat, foot traffic, and even diseases.

Steps to Take Before You Fertilize

Fertilizing lawns may seem like a straightforward process. This lawn care task typically only involves loading a dry spreader with fertilizer, running it around the perimeter of your lawn, and then going back and forth across the rest of the areas that need fertilizer. But to make sure the fertilizer is effective, follow these prep steps:

  1. Inspect your lawn for signs of diseases. Discoloration, small or large patches of brownish grass that are circular or irregular in shape, and mushrooms growing in a circle are just some indications of lawn disease. If you see these signs or anything unusual with your lawn, call your lawn care expert to have it treated before applying fertilizer.
  2. Get rid of weeds. Your lawn should be weed-free before you apply fertilizer. Otherwise, your turfgrass will need to compete with weeds for those essential nutrients.
  3. Dethatch if necessary. A thick layer of thatch will prevent the fertilizer from reaching the grassroots. So, make sure to dethatch if needed before applying the right fertilizer.
  4. Aerate compacted soil. Poking tiny holes will help loosen compacted soil, allowing the fertilizer to reach deeper roots. But you also have to get the timing right for this process.
  5. Take your personal protection equipment out of your cabinet. If you plan to fertilize your lawn without a professional, you will need PPE to protect yourself.

The Best Time of Year for Fertilizing Your Lawn

You found this post because you’re searching for the answer to the question,

When should I apply fertilizer to my lawn?” So, here it is.

The right time to apply lawn fertilizer is when the grass is actively growing. The growing season generally varies depending on the type of grass. There are two primary types of grasses: cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses. Cool-season grasses have two peak growing periods, which are in early spring and early fall, while warm-season grasses grow optimally in late spring and summer.

In addition to the peak growing season, consider soil temperature when scheduling lawn fertilization. Wait for the ground temperature to hit 15 to 20 degrees Celsius for a few days. If it has been raining, wait a day or two before applying the fertilizer to prevent runoff. Don’t fertilize when your area is under water restrictions either.

Choosing the Right Fertilizer

Fertilizers aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of solution. They differ in many ways, like application method, NPK ratio, ingredients used, etc. For the fertilizer to be effective, it needs to meet the requirements of your lawn. Here are a few tips to help you determine which fertilizer to buy:

Test Your Soil

As previously mentioned, fertilizers typically contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Look at the bag of fertilizer, and you will see three numbers on it. These numbers represent the percentage of each ingredient in the product. There are many combinations, like 10-10-10, 16-4-8, and 32-0-10.

You will need to perform a soil test to determine the accurate NPK ratio for your lawn. The soil test will tell you important information about the soil in your yard, including the level of NPK and other essential nutrients present in it. You can buy an at-home soil test kit to do this process or mail a soil sample to a lab.

Consider the Lawn Fertilization Method

Fertilizer comes in either granular form or liquid form. Granular fertilizer is applied using a fertilizer spreader and is easier to control because you can see how much you are using and where you are dispersing it. On the other hand, liquid fertilizer comes in ready-to-spray bottles that you can hook to your garden hose.

Each type of fertilizer has pros and cons. So, it is wise to understand your options before you buy fertilizer. These fertilizers can also be fast-release or slow-release and synthetic or organic. If you want a more environmentally friendly and safer option, choose organic fertilizer.

Consider the Timing of Fertilizer Application

The fertilizer you should apply in fall differs from what you might apply in spring. Typically, the fertilizer applied in fall is a winterizer, which is specially formulated to prepare your lawn for the coming cold season. So, make sure to choose a fertilizer accordingly.

Applying the Right Amount of Fertilizer

When applying fertilizer, be extra careful not to feed your lawn more or less than necessary. While fertilizer is a good thing, too much of it will quickly increase the salt and nitrogen levels of the soil, which can damage the grass. On the other hand, under-fertilizing can make the grass less pest- and disease-resistant.

To determine the right amount of fertilizer, you’ll have to calculate the number of square feet of lawn area to fertilize and a few other factors, like the percentage of nitrogen in the fertilizer. Consult your trusted expert in lawn care near you to determine the precise amount of fertilizer you need in your lawn.

Monitoring Your Lawn After Fertilization

Some lawn suffers fertilizer burn after applying fertilizer, particularly the quick-release type. When this happens, the grass turns brown or yellow. If you don’t fix the problem immediately, the damaged areas may end up dying, and you’ll have no choice but to resod or reseed. For this reason, you must monitor your lawn’s health and watch out for fertilizer burn symptoms.

In addition, don’t forget to keep your lawn hydrated. It will make it easier for the grass to absorb nutrients from the fertilizer. Also, keep your kids and pets off the newly treated lawn for two days.

Let Experts Fertilize Your Lawn

For best results, consider leaving fertilizer application to lawn care professionals like LawnMart. LawnMart has been caring for lawns throughout the Greater Toronto area for years and knows exactly what the area’s turfgrasses need. You can be sure your lawn will receive all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and lush.

LawnMart is an organic lawn care expert. From products to methods, the team is mindful of the environment, so you can be sure your lawn stays safe for your family and pets even after treatment. Contact the team today to learn how we can help transform your lawn. We offer free quotes for our lawn care services.

Michael Schäfer

President – LawnMart Inc.

Years of Experience: 31 Years

  • Land Class 1 and 3 Licenses Since 1993
  • Pest Control Operator License Since 1995
  • PIC Accredited Pest Technician Examiner Since 2004
  • Biting Flies Control License Since 2020

Michael Schäfer is President and Founder of LawnMart Inc. After training privately under Dr. Larry Whiddell of Ohio State University, he became a Lawn Technician at Barefoot Grass Lawn Services (1993) and leveled up to Tree/Shrub Care Manager before taking over all Canadian operations as Area Manager. In 1996, Michael founded LawnMart Inc., which has since grown into a multi-award-winning company that cares for thousands of lawns in the Golden Horseshoe area.