Talk about overpopulation: Some experts say that in a square foot of lawn you can have a thousand grass plants. With that kind of overpopulation, you owe it to your lawn to feed it. The best way to fertilize a lawn is with a drop spreader. Pour the fertilizer into the top, and — as the name implies — it drops out of the bottom. You can change the settings to adjust the amount of fertilizer that is dropped on the lawn.
Start by measuring the square footage of your lawn to estimate the amount of fertilizer you'll need to buy, and be sure to buy a good-quality product. The bag will include directions for use and a table with information regarding the settings for various brands of spreaders. Remember: The more nitrogen you apply, the more often you'll have to mow.
You should plan on feeding your lawn twice a year:
- Fertilize cool-season lawns, such as bluegrass and tall fescue, in late fall and late spring.
- Fertilize warm-season lawns, such as Bermuda grass and St. Augustine, in late spring or early summer and again in late summer.
The process of spreading fertilizer is actually simple:
- Fertilize along the edges of the lawn. If there is an edging, keep one wheel on the edge.
- Walk at your normal pace.
- Shut off the spreader when you get to the end.
- As you work, overlap wheels to avoid yellow stripes.
- Never fertilize a dry lawn. (Note: If your lawn is drought-stressed or "browned out," that is, withered from dehydration, as opposed to merely dry, it's not a good idea to apply fertilizer. If, however, you are using a granular fertilizer, you must apply it to a dry lawn to keep it from sticking to the blades of grass and burning them, and then water it in.)
- Always water after fertilizing.
- If the weather is hot, wait until it cools before you fertilize.
- Proper fertilization ensures a healthy, dense lawn that maintains a dark-green color and gives weeds a run for their money. Nitrogen is every lawn's most important nutrient, and each type of grass requires different amounts to maintain the highest-quality turf.
- How often you fertilize determines not only the appearance but also the maintenance level of your lawn. Keep in mind that the more often you fertilize, the more you have to mow, and adjust your fertilizing timetable to meet your visual expectations and your schedule.