The best times of year to use lawn food for a lush green carpet!
How often to fertilize lawns – it’s a common gardening query. If you want your grass looking lush and green all year round, we’ve got plenty of useful tips for you in this article.
As well as thinking about how often to fertilize the lawn, you can strengthen your grass in lots of other ways: by aerating the soil, scarifying the lawn surface, sowing new seed and mowing regularly. Read on for more advice on the best ways to grow a lush green lawn.
When is it best to fertilize the lawn?
A lot will depend on the climate you live in, but most gardeners agree that spring and autumn are the best seasons for lawn care. Grass stops growing in the winter and goes into a dormant state.
Summers can be hot and dry: any treatment could stress a lawn already dealing with high temperatures and a lack of moisture.
Fertilizing your Lawn
You can buy lawn fertilizers designed for both spring/summer and autumn/winter use. How often you fertilize the lawn will depend on the state of your grass to begin with.
You could apply a spring fertilizer in late March or early April, depending on when the warm weather arrives in your area. Leaving a space of about 8 weeks between applications is a good idea. If you don’t see an improvement, try another dose of fertilizer in late May or early June.
Switch to an autumn fertilizer if you want to do work on the lawn after August – there’s more on this below.
Strengthen Your Lawn Grass
What you don’t need is a weed problem – and feeding the lawn could feed the weeds too. For starters, it’s a good idea to think about what else you can do to help the grass grow before you reach for the fertilizer.
There are lots of ways you can strengthen the grass. Mowing regularly, aerating the soil, sowing new grass seed in patchy areas and lawn scarifying are all good lawn strengtheners. We’ll cover some of these in a bit more detail below.
Choose Organic Lawn Fertilizer
If you’ve decided you want to fertilize the lawn, choose your product carefully. You can buy organic lawn feed designed for spring/summer or autumn/winter use, which will help to strengthen the soil underneath your lawn.
If you’ve got good soil, your grass will grow. Chicken manure is an excellent organic fertilizer — you can buy it as pellets.
Fertilizing Lawns in Spring
When the grass starts to grow in spring, you can think about what treatments you want to carry out. Sow new grass seed in any areas that are a bit worn out after winter.
Feeding the lawn with a fertilizer mix specifically designed for spring and summer will encourage the grass to grow more vigorously. Healthy grass stops weeds and moss from taking over.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommended dosage. It’s a good idea to do this job when you think it might rain, as rain will help to get the product into the soil.
Top tip: don’t use spring/summer lawn feed, chicken manure pellets or ammonia feed after August. It may encourage too much leafy growth which will then get damaged in the colder months.
Fertilizing Lawns in Autumn
September is usually the best month to do work on the lawn. There is still enough warm weather for treatments to take effect before winter sets in, and the grass stops growing.
You can buy lawn fertilizer for autumn application. If your lawn is still looking in a bad state by the end of summer and you haven’t been feeding the grass regularly already, an autumn feed could be helpful.
More Tips for a Lush Lawn
Besides thinking about how often to fertilize the lawn, there are other ways to promote strong grass growth.
Aerate the Soil
Sometimes the soil under your lawn gets very solid and hard. Grass roots will struggle to get enough air and water, and fertilizer might not be as effective.
You can get better air and water flow by aerating, or ‘spiking’ the lawn. This just means making lots of tiny holes in the surface. A garden fork is useful for this, or if you have a large area to cover, a rolling lawn aerator is ideal.
Walk around your lawn and make regular holes with the fork or aerator. These should be at least 4 inches deep. A good target to aim for is 4-inch deep holes made about every 4 inches across the entire lawn.
If you have heavy clay soil, add some sand or fine grit where you’ve spiked the grass. This will help with drainage.
Scarify the Lawn
You can buy or hire a lawn scarifier to get rid of ‘thatch’ – this is a build-up of old moss, dead grass and other debris that can choke a lawn.
Using a lawn scarifier is straightforward, and it will help your grass to breathe more easily. This should be done in the autumn, not the spring, to give the grass time to recover over the winter.
Regularly Mow the Lawn
Cutting the grass often helps it to grow. In the summer aim to do a grass cut about once a week. In the spring and autumn, twice a week is usually enough. Cutting the grass short helps roots to spread further and fill gaps.
There are exceptions to this – for example when your garden is in drought conditions, or you are likely to have a long hot spell of weather. It sounds obvious, but let your grass recover from dry periods before cutting it too much. If it looks straggly and messy, keep the mower blades quite high and just take the tops off.
If you have a newly-laid lawn, let the grass get to about 3 inches and then give it a cut, as this will help to thicken it up.
Top-Dress the Lawn
This sounds a bit fancy, doesn’t it? It just means adding a soil mix to your grass. This will help it to grow better. A mixture of 3 parts loam, 6 parts sand and 1 part compost works well. Spread across the lawn surface with the back of a rake, at about 5lb every 10 sq ft. This is best done in the autumn.