Fresh fertilizer in a lawn.

Fertilizing for Spring Success: Tips for Early Spring Lawn Nutrition in Toronto

Your lawn is hungry after a long winter sleep. With the help of this guide, ensure your grass gets all the nutrients it needs to thrive after waking up.

Benefits of Basic Fertilizing

Understanding the Basics of Fertilizing

Fertilizing lawns in spring is more complex than it seems. For the best results, it’s not enough to simply visit your local store, purchase the fertilizer you think is good, and proceed to spread it on your lawn. Fertilizers come in various types, and not every one of them will work on your lawn. You must choose the fertilizer to use based on the soil condition, which you can determine with a soil test.

The amount of fertilizer you apply also matters. Applying too much synthetic fertilizer can burn or even kill your lawn instead of helping it grow. On the other hand, applying too little won’t make any difference, and you won’t get the results you want.

For the best outcome, you need to apply fertilizer at the right time. The best time varies depending on the grass’s active growing period. Cool-season grasses actively grow in fall and early spring, while warm-season grasses grow in late spring and early summer. Maximize your fertilizer by applying it at the best time once you identify your grass type.

Another consideration when setting a schedule for fertilizing is the weather. Avoid fertilizing before or after heavy rainfall because the fertilizer can be washed away before it is consumed by the grass. Fertilizer can even leach out of the soil in such conditions. Fertilizer runoff can pollute your local water supply, and it isn’t ideal to fertilize during drought seasons.

Prepping Your Lawn for Fertilization

Before applying lawn fertilizer in spring, ensure the lawn is mowed properly and is weed-free. Tall grasses may prevent the fertilizer from coming in contact with the soil. On the other hand, weeds will compete with your grass for nutrients.

Also, dethatch if the thatch layer is more than a half-inch thick. Thatch is a spongy layer between the soil and grass leaves, typically consisting of plant structures like dead leaves and roots. If thatch builds up, it will prevent fertilizer from getting to where it needs to be.

The soil shouldn’t be too dry or too wet before fertilizing. Otherwise, the grass won’t be able to absorb the nutrients. Check the weather forecast days before your fertilizing schedule. If it doesn’t rain, lightly water the lawn a day or two before you spread fertilizer.

Application Techniques

If you’re applying fertilizer without help from professionals, you’ll need to invest in a spreader. While you can use your hands to spread fertilizer, it will be challenging to determine the right amount and evenly spread it by hand. With spreaders, you can set the flow rate according to the instructions on the fertilizer bag. This ensures even fertilizer distribution.

Spreaders come in various types, including drop and broadcast lawn spreaders. Some are ideal for small lawns, while other spreaders make fertilizing bigger lawns easier and more efficient. Learn more about your options to find the best and easiest tool to use.

When it’s time to fertilize, run the spreader around your lawn’s perimeter with the hopper vent open. Go back and forth across the lawn, or follow the recommended patterns on the package, if any are indicated. After use, clean the spreader thoroughly before storing it.

Benefits of Early Spring Fertilization

Early spring fertilization offers many advantages. Toronto is notorious for its harsh winters, often causing damage to lawns—especially the ones that haven’t been protected from the bitterly cold winter. By fertilizing the lawn when the weather conditions get better, you’re giving your lawn grass the nutrition boost necessary to bounce back faster after winter. This means you can enjoy a greener and more vibrant lawn in spring.

Fertilizer will also make your lawn healthier. Applying fertilizer in spring allows the grass root systems to develop and grow deeper. Healthy, thick lawns are more resistant to weed invasion and diseases. Additionally, the long, deep roots will significantly improve the grass strength, which is necessary during summer when there’s drought risk.

Types of Fertilizers for Toronto Lawns

If you’re buying fertilizer for the first time, the options can get overwhelming. You may be asking, “What fertilizer should I put on my lawn in early spring?” To get started, you have organic and chemical options. Most fertilizers on shelves in garden stores are synthetic.

When you shop around, you’ll notice an N-P-K ratio on fertilizer. The numbers indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, three macronutrients your lawn needs to grow and thrive. Nitrogen (N) promotes new green growth, phosphorus (P) promotes strong root growth and flower production, and potassium (P) contributes to overall plant health.

Assuming the lawn has healthy soil, a fertilizer with high nitrogen content is most often ideal in spring. But the best way to determine your lawn’s needs is to perform a soil test. The best fertilizer for your lawn will also vary depending on the grass.

What to Avoid When Fertilizing

Applying spring fertilizer is essential in growing a healthy and green yard. If you are not hiring a professional to do the job, be aware of the common mistakes homeowners make that lead to poor results and lawn damage.

One of the most common mistakes is not measuring the amount of fertilizer to apply to the lawn. Failing to apply the recommended amount of fertilizer and using the wrong tools can lead to over-fertilizing. Too much fertilizer can burn the grass, resulting in brown patches, grass thinning, and even lawn death. The excess fertilizer can also pollute nearby bodies of water and harm wildlife.

We’ve already touched on the best time to fertilize your lawn. Fertilizing at the wrong time is another common mistake. You can consult your local lawn care professional or refer to a lawn care calendar for the recommended times to fertilize your lawn.

And when it’s time to choose a fertilizer, some only consider NPK. NPK is crucial, but it’s not the complete picture. You should also consider other factors, like the fertilizer’s form (e.g., granular, liquid, etc.) and whether it is fast- or slow-release.

Another common mistake is not performing a soil test. A soil test is critical if you’re not getting professional lawn care services. Soil tests tell you exactly what nutrients your lawn lacks and what kind of fertilizer will benefit it. This test will also determine your soil’s pH level so you can make necessary amendments.

Also, don’t make the mistake of fertilizing while your grass blades are wet. The moisture on grass blades will cause the fertilizer to clump together. As a result, the fertilizer won’t be distributed evenly.

Switch to Organic

Chemical fertilizers are easier to find and help your lawn green up quickly in spring. However, they can also harm your grass, the people around you, and the environment if not handled properly. You can significantly reduce safety risks with organic fertilizers.

Organic fertilizers work better for the environment and are healthier for you, your family, and your pets. They also make the soil healthier over time, saving you money, time, and effort on treatments and maintenance.

Do you want to learn more about best practices for lawn fertilizers in spring? Contact LawnMart today!