A lush green lawn is a source of pride for many homeowners: A carpet of green grass shows they care about their homes. But others may not desire the level of maintenance or care required to achieve this standard.
When it comes to lawn care, some basic practices are required regardless of the level of care you desire. Fertilization is a maintenance requirement that can vary, depending on how much care you do.
Research into lawn care has determined that applying more fertilizer results in a higher quality lawn. It has also shown that an application in May may be optional, depending on your level of care and desired quality.
A mid-May application of fertilizer is necessary only for those seeking that lush carpet of grass all summer long. Apply a dose of fertilizer during this period only if you water sufficiently to keep the grass green over the summer.
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Lawns that are watered throughout the summer will need this nutrient boost to keep them growing and in a dark green state. Choose a product that is high in nitrogen and contains as much slow-release fertilizer as possible. Examples would be 30-0-0, 29-3-3 or similar. This extends the availability of the nitrogen for a longer period and reduces summer stress on the turf.
An application of fertilizer is not necessary now if you do not water regularly during the summer. Added fertilizer pushes the grass to grow, resulting in a need for more water, which in turn decreases the drought-tolerance of the lawn.
Skipping this application will not be noticeable in a lower input lawn. Lawns that are allowed to go dormant or do not receive regular watering tend to go off color or brown out. You will not see any difference in the turf quality without the fertilizer. By not fertilizing, you are actually reducing the potential for summer stress by not forcing growth.
The most important time to fertilize bluegrass and tall fescue is in the fall, early September. This application is vital, as it helps the turf, whether higher maintenance or lower, recover from the stress of summer. During the September growth period, strong roots will develop, which thickens up the stand of grass and results in better top growth.