When to fertilize your lawn in Cleveland is the crucial answer to having beautiful green grass. Applying your first dose of fertilizer in the spring after a long winter is standard practice. However, using it too early in the spring will cause the grass to begin leaf development too soon. You want to apply the fertilizer when the grass is green and starting to grow. If you have specific questions about fertilizing or would like a professional, visit our Cleveland lawn care page. Here are some tips to help you!
Gardeners who grow organically may take the stand that lawns don’t need fertilizing at all. Or, if it is used, it should be used lightly to avoid run-off into streams and waterways. But, the need for a pleasant green lawn will allow for at least some use of fertilizer.
If you want to go organic, you can feed your lawn safely by using a mulching mower. This type of mower will chop up your grass into fine pieces that then break down. This technique can give your lawn as much nitrogen over the course of the growing season as one application of lawn fertilizer.
Another option is to use a fertilizer made from natural materials instead of refined chemicals. Although the vital nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are less saturated in organic fertilizers, they will adequately feed your lawn.
You can also use a single turf builder application to help build root systems in the early fall. You would then not use fertilizers in the spring and summer except for the clippings from the mulching mower.
Cool season grasses will come out of their dormancy in the early spring and start to enter their natural growth cycle. This is when the grasses root system begins to grow and build energy reserves. Plus, if you have in the fall, the fertilizer with its slow release formula will still be working. This will provide much-needed nutrients for your lawn to get a head start.
When you wait until the late spring, the grass is preparing for the summer heat by growing longer and thicker. The carbohydrate production will start to slow down, and the grass utilizes its reserves in preparation for the heat of the summer. If you feed your lawn a slow-release fertilizer of about ¾-1 pounds, it will help the turf to rebuild its energy supplies. This will help your grass to fight off heat, drought, high foot traffic, and insects. If you use a polymer-coated or IBDU slow release fertilizer, your grass will be fed for almost 12 weeks.
There are also water-soluble fertilizers which can be used through your automatic watering system. For early spring fertilizing, a water-soluble fertilizer is ideal because it will slowly release nitrogen into the soil. This doesn’t affect your pH and allows your grass to grow slowly.
In states where warm-season grasses grow, grasses can be fed throughout the summer because they thrive in the heat. But in Cleveland, OH, cool-season grasses go into survival mode in the summer. When the lawn is vulnerable and stressed, fertilizing encourages top growth which puts your lawn at risk for brown spots and dead areas. Also, integrated pest management and water should be the only additives until September.
In the early to mid-fall, an application of a turf builder is recommended. This is because the lawn still has some active growth before it goes into dormancy. When turf builder is applied, it will build up a healthy root system into the winter and give your lawn a good head start in the spring. You should only lay down a light application and not expect to restore the green of summer. Your lawn will begin to lose some of its summer green naturally as the slowdown for fall and into winter occurs.
When you do feed your lawn, try to do it when you know it’s going to rain. If not, you’ll need to add at least a ¼” of water to push the product into the ground. Too, don’t water heavily or before a heavy rainstorm because it will force the fertilizer nutrients into the water table, streams and storm drain.
Spring is the perfect time of year to prepare your lawn for the hot summer days ahead!