How to Tell if It's Time to Feed Your Lawn

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TruGreen specialist fertilizes lawn

on May 3, 2017 by TruGreen

Spring is in full force! As the temperature begins to creep up, you may look at your yard and wonder how to achieve that perfect lush, green look for your lawn this year. The solution is a fertilization service that recognizes the unique needs of your lawn. By fertilizing regularly, you can repair prior damage, promote growth, and enjoy a lawn worthy of the warm weather season.

How Fertilizing Can Improve Your Lawn

With the right care, feeding your lawn can improve its overall health, appearance and endurance. Some of the best benefits include:

  • Scoring that perfect shade of green. One of the main ingredients in fertilizer is nitrogen, which stimulates chlorophyll production and gives grass that deeper, darker green hue. In addition to providing a green glow, nitrogen also promotes the green shoot growth that prevents bare patches.
  • Restoring lacking nutrients. Not all soil is created equal, so certain lawns lack essential nutrients and struggle to grow. Additionally, substantial rainfall or regular irrigation can carry off those water-soluble nutrients. Fertilizer directly combats nutrient deficiency by offering the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
  • Providing density that curbs weed growth. Because fertilizer increases the density of the lawn, it’ll not only look thick and healthy but also protect itself against troublesome weeds. When the blades of grass are tightly packed across the entire lawn, there simply aren’t bare patches of soil for weeds to grow.
  • Cooling down your yard. A healthy lawn will cool down the surrounding areas in your yard significantly through a process called evapotranspiration. According to the Lawn Institute, turfed surfaces can be between 10 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than asphalt or concrete.
  • Repairing damaged grass. Bothersome pests, invasive weeds, and extreme weather can wreak havoc on lawns, leaving discolored areas and patches of dead grass. The combination of potassium and phosphorus in the fertilizer determines the lawn’s ability to regulate water intake.
  • Preparing for harsh conditions. A fertilization program that promotes growth leads to a healthy, durable lawn that can handle unexpected turns in the weather and foot traffic from outside gatherings.

Signs That Your Lawn Needs Feeding

To determine whether your lawn needs fertilizing, find out what type of soil is found in your backyard and consider have a pH soil test performed to determine any nutrient deficiencies.  

Soil Types

All soils are made up of three main components: sand, silt and clay. Sandy soils take in water quickly due to the amount of air between the coarse sand particles. But that quick uptake also means sandy soil isn’t able to store moisture for long, leaving lawns dried out if they don’t consistently receive water. 

Clay-heavy soils lie on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to drainage. The dense soil is able to retain water and prevent nutrient and water runoff, but can also lead to an oversaturated lawn in heavy rainfall or excessive irrigation. Knowing the weakness of your yard’s soil composition will help you choose the right type of feed and method when fertilizing your lawn.

Testing Your Soil’s pH level

A soil pH test measures the levels of acidity and alkalinity, and identifies nutrients that are missing from the soil. 

If you live in a place that receives a lot of rainfall, there’s a higher chance that your soil is acidic. When soil is overly acidic, plants and grasses absorb nutrients at a harmfully accelerated rate.  Moss or algae growth on the soil’s surface is another sign your soil is too acidic, in which case your lawn will definitely need extra help this season.

In dry conditions, alkaline soil is a common issue for struggling lawns. If your grass blades are yellowing, the soil could be lacking iron due to high alkaline levels.

Whether you use a simple home kit or choose to include a soil test in your TruGreen Healthy Lawn Analysis®, a better understanding of your soil can help you decide which kind of fertilizer is best for your lawn.

The Right Time of Year to Fertilize Your Lawn

It can be tricky to know when it’s the right time to begin fertilizing so that your lawn doesn’t end up patchy, dry and full of weeds when summer rolls around.

Different kinds of grasses require specialized attention, which is why a customized fertilizing schedule is so important for a healthy lawn. It’s a good idea to call in a specialist to make sure your lawn receives the care it deserves, but the general guidelines on when to fertilize depend on whether you have cool-season grass or warm-season grass. Thankfully, your TruGreen specialist will know just what your lawn needs.

Feeding Cool-Season Grass

If you have cool-season grass, most of the heavy fertilization should be done in the fall before the harsh winter months arrive. As early spring rolls around and the soil warms up, feed the lawn lightly. This schedule allows for the most growth during the cooler parts of the fall and spring season. 

Feeding Warm-Season Grass

When you have warm-season grass, spring is the time to get in gear and fertilize your lawn. As soon as the lawn starts to grow green after winter, feed the lawn so it can continue to grow in the high temperatures of late spring and summer. 

Determining Your Grass Type

If you didn’t plant the grass in your lawn, you might be unsure what instructions to follow for the best time to fertilize. A handful of regions in the United States host only cool-season grasses, while some can only support the warm-season varieties. But many areas are “transitional,” which means both types of grasses are capable of surviving. To avoid applying the wrong fertilization schedule, we recommend bringing in a specialist to determine what type of grass you have and tailor your lawn plan accordingly. 

Professional Help From TruGreen

When it comes to fertilizing your lawn, you could try and take on the DIY challenge or you could get some expert assistance. Check out our quick quiz to find out which options is best for you! If you find that you’re unsure about your type of grass, the type and pH of your soil, or the best fertilizing schedule for your lawn, TruGreen is here to help! 

The PhD-certified specialists at TruGreen® have thorough training that allows them to assess and understand your lawn’s needs, including the necessary nutrients, the best kind of fertilizer for your lawn, and the right method of fertilizer application. Don’t risk a lackluster lawn this summer. Instead, learn more about TruGreen’s lawn care plans by visiting or calling 800.464.0171.

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