Everyone knows a well-fed lawn is a happy lawn, but in order to avoid having pounds of fertilizer empty into local waterways, without much growth to show for it, it’s important to do your reading first.
Below, I’ve compiled list list of key questions from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service you should consider before taking the plunge:
1. W H A T T Y P E O F G R A S S D O I H A V E ?
This may seem like a given, but it should be no surprise that different kinds of grass need different ratios of nutrients. While there are a slew of grasses and ground covers to choose from if you have a Texas warm season grass it will likely be one of the following: bermuda, buffalo, centipede, St. Augustine, or zoysia. Centipede and buffalo grass require much less nitrogen than a variety like bermuda, and zoysia and St. Augustine both land somewhere in-between.
2. W H A T K I N D O F L A W N D O I W A N T ?
Or in other words, what do you want your lawn to look like? Depending on the amount of money and time you have to spend on irrigation and fertilizer, you may be looking to achieve anywhere from a low, moderate, to high maintenance lawn. The more lush and green you want your lawn to be, or the more foot traffic the grass receives, the more fertilizer you’ll need.
3. H O W M U C H A N D W H I C H F E R T I L I Z E R T O A P P L Y ?
The safest way to ensure you are fertilizing your lawn with exactly what it needs in exactly the right amounts is to do a little math. Firstly, making the effort to take a soil test can benefit you greatly in the long run. The test will show you which nutrients your soil lacks and which are at adequate levels, recommending the number of pounds of each nutrient you need to apply per 1,000 square feet of lawn. If you know the size of your lawn, or calculate it yourself, you can then figure out how many pounds or bags of fertilizer you’ll need to buy to cover your lawn.
4. W H E N A N D H O W O F T E N T O F E R T I L I Z E ?
As a good rule of thumb it’s best to fertilize when your plants are actively growing because that’s when they can take up and utilize the fertilizer the most!
In Austin the growing season typically lasts from March 1st (the last spring frost)-December 1st (first autumn frost). You’ll know your grass is growing if you’ve had to start mowing again. After you’ve mowed it two or three times, you are good to go. Split the fertilizer into two applications, one in spring and one in fall (at least 6 weeks before a freeze), to allow for it to integrate into the soil with ease.
5. H O W B E S T T O A P P L Y F E R T I L I Z E R I N M E A S U R E D A M O U N T S ?
In order to spread your fertilizer uniformly throughout your lawn the two best options are with either drop or rotary style spreaders. Drop type spreaders work as they are described, dropping single streams of fertilizer as you push forward. These are easier to maneuver around large objects, like trees and shrubs; however, the fertilizer is less dispersed. When using these spreaders it’s best to overlap wheel tracks and apply fertilizer in two different directions perpendicular from one another. Rotary spreaders have a mechanism that rotates in a circle, dropping fertilizer throughout the rotation. They are great for covering a larger area and fan the fertilizer out to the very edge of your yard.
For a more detailed explanation of how to fertilize your lawn check out the full article here: Lawn Fertilization for Texas Warm Season Grasses