Fertilizing: everyone knows they probably should, but what should you use on what sort of grass, and how often should you use it? (And why wasn’t there a ‘Life Skills’ class in school that explained any of this?) Well, pull up a chair and grab your trusty notebook, because class is in session! Read on to learn all about the right way to fertilize your grass to gorgeous.
1) How big is your lawn, exactly?
A lot of people are terrified of math: so terrified that they throw their hands up in the air and toss a few handfuls of fertilizer as they do so, and call it a day. Or else they ‘eyeball’ their lawn and nod wisely as they dump ten times too much on every square inch. However, the size of your lawn is easy to calculate.
Let’s say your lawn is 10 feet by 11 feet, but it has a walkway that is 2 feet wide and 12 feet long, leading to your doorway. How many square feet of grass do you have? Some of you are already potentially hiding under your desks, but I promise this is easy-peasy.
Figure out the total size of your yard. You do this by multiplying the length of your yard times the width of your yard. If your yard is 10 x 11, you multiple 10 times 11 for 110 ft2. So far, so good.
Figure out the total size of stuff that is in your yard, yet not made of grass. Simple: your walkway goes through your lawn, and it is 2 x 12. That is 24 ft2.
Subtract your not-lawn measurement from your yard measurement. This tells you how much of your yard should have grass on it. So, 110 ft2 – 24 ft2 = 86 ft2. You have a small yard. You should consider an upgrade (most yards are 3,000 square feet!)
If this math is still terrifying, or if you blacked out at some point over the course of the above paragraph and are only now coming to, most places will come and measure your yard for you. You slacker, you.
2) What kind of soil do you have?
It should come as no surprise that sandy soil needs to be fertilized more often than clay soil. Sandy soil is great because it gives your grass’s roots some room to breathe, but water and fertilizer run through it like… sand. Clay soil will need to be fertilized less often, and over-fertilizing or over-watering can actually cause an increase in pests and pathogens.
3) What sort of grass makes up your lawn?
There are two main sorts of grass, so far as fertilizer is concerned: warm-season grass, and cool-season grass. Most likely you have cool-season grass, such as bluegrass, fescue, or ryegrass. If this is the case, it is best to fertilize them most in the autumn, when root growth will be at its peak.
4) Do you use ‘natural fertilizer’?
Let’s be clear on this: what we mean is, do you allow leaves to fall on your lawn and grass clippings to fall to earth? If so, you may need to fertilize your lawn less often, because the plant material contains the nutrients your grass needs. If you rake your leaves regularly and use a mower that sucks up the clippings, you may need to fertilize your lawn more often.
5) How much fertilizer I need?
The rule of thumb is to use 1-lb of nitrogen-rich fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. If you mulch your lawn, you can reduce this amount by up to 30%.
The math to use here would be:
Your lawn square feet x (Number of pounds of fertilizer / 1000 square feet)
From our example last time, that would be:
86 ft2 x (4-lbs/1000 ft2) = 0.344-lbs, or about 1/3 of a pound of nitrogen-rich fertilizer for your small lawn.
There are some cool-season grasses that are less hungry for water and fertilizer than others, and are advertised and sold as such. These may require only 2-lbs of fertilizer per 1000 square feet. Double-check what grass you have to be sure you don’t over- or under-fertilize.
6) How often should I fertilize my soil?
Most fertilizers are best applied 4-6 weeks apart, from late summer through mid-fall. Remember, however, to space this a bit further apart for clay soils, and a bit closer together for sandy soils.
Follow these pieces of advice and you’ll soon be on your way to a vibrant, green, healthy lawn. Still need help? Contact Bur-Han to learn more about our fertilizing packages.