When to Fertilize Your Lawn, Trees and Plants
Fertilization can be the difference between a good lawn and a great lawn. If you dream of having the most well-kept lawn and landscaping on the block, you’ll want to add fertilization to your lawncare routine.
Most homeowners know why you need to fertilize a lawn. Fertilization delivers nutrients that help produce a lawn full of beautiful grass.
Fertilizers contain ingredients such as phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, calcium and magnesium, to name a few. These nutrients help spur growth, strengthen the plant, tree and grass roots and give your lawn that healthy green color. Your entire property can benefit from regular, timely fertilization.
But many people wonder: How often do I need to fertilize a lawn? When do I need to fertilize my trees, shrubs and flowers? A lawn fertilization schedule allows your lawn to get exactly what it needs at the most beneficial time.
When to Fertilize A Lawn
After the installation of a seeded lawn for a Custom Design Landscaping job, Rice’s includes overseeding and fertilization within four to six weeks of installation. We recommend applying additional fertilization every six to eight weeks during the first growing season, using an all-purpose lawn fertilizer.
Avoid the use of weed-and-feed on your newly seeded lawn until after the sixth mowing. Weed and feed is a combination of fertilizer and weed killer, used to improve lawns by eliminating persistent and unsightly weeds. However, weed and feed works best after the lawn has a few weeks to take root.
Lawn Fertilization Schedule
- Early Spring: Start the growing season off right with an early spring application of fertilizer. A crabgrass preventer is your best choice for spring lawn fertilization, as it will give you a jump on weeds taking root. (If you intend to overseed your lawn, use a regular, all-purpose lawn fertilizer instead.)
- Summer – Fall: Throughout the summer and fall, use a slow-release, high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer with a post-emergent weed killer every 3 to 4 months. A steady application of lawn fertilizer helps maintain grass growth, eliminate weeds and prepare your lawn for the dormant months ahead.
When is the best time to fertilize your lawn? Plan to apply lawn fertilizer the day before the weather forecast calls for steady rain. If not, plan to water the lawn immediately after the application of fertilizer. Watering your lawn right after the application helps dissolve and dilute the fertilizer and prevents it from burning the lawn.
(An exception: If you’re using weed-and-feed, we recommend following the instructions on the package.)
Whatever fertilizer you select, for best results, follow the instructions on the bag regarding how to fertilize your lawn, and familiarize yourself with your lawn spreader for best application results.
When NOT to Fertilize Your Lawn
While fertilizing your lawn is extremely beneficial, there are times when you should not fertilize. Avoid using a heavy nitrogen fertilizer during periods of extreme heat and do not spread at full rate during drought. Drought and heat are stressful for your lawn, and applying a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer or adding too much fertilizer during these times can cause lawn burnout.
When to Fertilize Trees and Shrubs
Trees and shrubs need to be fertilized during times of active root growth and adequate soil moisture, typically starting in the early spring. Don’t apply fertilizer to your trees and shrubs during times of drought, as they cannot absorb the nutrients without proper hydration. Also take care not to overfertilize. Follow the fertilizer manufacturer instruction on the bag.
Trees and Shrubs Fertilization Schedule
- Shade, ornamental and evergreen trees: Fertilize in early spring after the soil thaws but before growth begins.
- Rhododendrons, azaleas and holly: These acid-loving plants need an acidifying fertilizer in early spring for optimal blooming and color.
When to Fertilize Plants
Perennials and Groundcover Fertilization
To keep newly installed perennials and groundcovers looking good, fertilize once during the growing season. Look for an all-around flower or garden fertilizer at your local retail store.
For best results, fertilize perennials and groundcovers before they begin to show signs of nutrient deficiencies. Signs of nutrient deficiencies in plants include poor growth and yellowing leaves. If your plants show these signs, even if they’re receiving sufficient water, it’s time to fertilize.
Established Perennial and Groundcover Fertilization Schedule
Rice’s recommends the following fertilization schedule:
- 1st Application: Early spring, while plants are still dormant
- 2nd Application: Six weeks after the first application
- 3rd Application: Mid-to-late summer
Annuals Fertilization Schedule
Annuals have a short growing season. It’s important to fertilize these plants during that season, while they’re growing. You can find both granular and liquid fertilizers to fortify your annuals and encourage reblooming and growth.