Feeding your lawn with fertilizer should be a straightforward concept, but once you decide to do it, you might be faced with a shocking number of questions that pop up. Our experts have put together this guide to answer the most common question homeowners ask about fertilizing their lawns. Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire the experts at Rainbow Lawncare, this information can help you feel confident in making the best decisions about this fundamental aspect of caring for the lawn you love.
Why Is It Important to Fertilize My Lawn in Minnesota?
While a lawn is considered a standard part of a home landscape, grass requires ongoing maintenance. For lush, green grass, it is essential to mow properly, water when dry, and provide missing nutrients through fertilization. Some types of grass are drought tolerant or only need to be mowed a couple of times a year; however, all lawns will benefit from fertilizer service.
Increase plant health with proper nutrition
Most lawns are nutrient deficient, and grass is a plant that requires proper nutrients to reach optimal health. Replenishing soil nutrients with fertilizer on a regular basis helps your lawn reach optimal health.
Decrease water run-off
A lawn that is thin or patchy due to a lack of nutrients is subject to water run-off during storms. Including fertilizer as part of your regular lawn maintenance routine creates thicker turf that slows stormwater runoff and allows for water retention in the soil.
Your plants will be less prone to weed infestation
Weeds can thrive in less than optimal soil conditions, as you may already have noticed. A thicker, healthier lawn means less opportunity for weeds to take hold.
When to Apply Lawn Fertilizer in Minnesota
The best time to fertilize your lawn, regardless of where you live, is when it is actively growing. In Minnesota, that timeframe can vary a bit, however, a good spring feeding can take place sometime in April. Fertilizing throughout the growing season will support healthy, even lawn growth. We also recommend doing a final fertilizer application on your Minnesota lawn in late fall.
How many times a year should I fertilize my lawn?
If using broadcast-spread fertilizer, your best plan in Minnesota will include 4-5 fertilizer treatments. Starting with fertilizer in early spring, and spacing them periodically throughout the season, will provide your lawn with the ongoing nutrients for optimal health.
Should I fertilize my lawn in the summer?
Fertilizing in the summer in addition to adequate watering will help maintain the health of your grass, even during the heat of summer.
What are the main nutrients in lawn fertilizer?
The macronutrients found in lawn fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, also referred to as NPK. Many labels have a series of three numbers, each referring to the ratio of these nutrients in this order. If you are unsure as to what ratio your yard may need, a professional can make recommendations based on an assessment of your yard and/or a soil test.
N: Nitrogen keeps your lawn lush and green and stimulates growth. Too much results in grass that is too thick and therefore more vulnerable to disease and drought stress.
P: Phosphorus supports root growth and is usually only needed for new lawns. Because grass takes it up very slowly, it has a greater potential to run off and damage local waterways and lakes.
Minnesota prohibits its use on lawns unless a soil test indicates a deficiency, or a new lawn is being established. “No P” fertilizers are widely available.
K: Potassium helps grass withstand disease, drought, and cold. It supports the plant’s ability to take up nitrogen and regulates important functions with the plant’s systems.
Consider a soil test
Soil tests assess nutrient levels, pH levels, and factors that determine the soil’s ability to retain nutrients. They may also identify problems such as excess salts. Based on these results the test lab can recommend the best fertilizer for your lawn. Many university extension agencies offer this service, including the University of Minnesota Soil Testing Laboratory.
What is the best fertilizer for a lawn?
Fertilizer is available in synthetic or organic formulas, which are made of living matter such as peat moss or bone meal. Synthetic fertilizers are considered faster acting, but the even, long-term benefits from organic products also achieve great results. Once you decide which you prefer, your next choice will be whether to use a liquid or granular type. Our experts prefer slow-release granular formulations as there is less risk of burning the lawn or damaging surrounding plants or the environment with run-off. We also offer a full range of fertilizer choices, from golf course grade synthetics to fully organic options.
How Do I Apply Lawn Fertilizer in Minnesota?
Liquid formulas need to be mixed with water, and can then be sprayed through a special hose attachment. Granular fertilizer can be applied to recently watered lawn using a spreader, working from the outer edge toward the center of the lawn. Adjust the settings on the applicator according to the product’s instructions.
Does lawn fertilizer have to be watered in?
We recommend watering your lawn thoroughly a day or two before applying fertilizer, unless mother nature has already done so. Watering lightly after the application is also beneficial as it helps distribute the fertilizer into the soil.
Should I mow the lawn before applying fertilizer?
Mowing before fertilizing will help the fertilizer reach the soil. Mowing after fertilizing (especially if you bag your clippings) may impact how effective the application is, and how much ends up in the soil.
How much fertilizer should I apply?
Fertilizer should be applied according to the directions on the package. Well-intentioned homeowners often fall into the trap of thinking “if a little is good, a lot must be great!” Applying too much fertilizer can burn your lawn, or be wasted if excess fertilizer is carried off in rainwater runoff.
Should I apply fertilizer myself?
Homeowners can apply lawn fertilizer on their own, but will likely be left doing some guesswork unless they get professional advice or a soil test to determine what their lawn actually needs. Slow-releasing granular products have the advantage of reducing the risk of burning the lawn.
Common Questions About Lawn Fertilization
Most homeowners understand fertilization is a key part of caring for their lawns, but once we get down to details such as when to do it and which products to use, that’s where our common sense knowledge ends and our questions begin!
How long does lawn fertilization take?
Depending on the size of your lawn, applying either liquid or granular products will generally take about 20 minutes for an average city lot, which is typically ⅕ of an acre.
What if it rains when I fertilize my lawn?
A gentle soaking rain can help water-in fertilizer for great results. However, a heavy rainfall can wash fertilizer away. Most types of fertilizer will be taken up within two days of being applied.
Can you put fertilizer on wet grass?
Some products need to be applied to wet grass to ensure that they adhere to the plant. It is best to follow label instructions.
What happens if you don’t fertilize your lawn?
Lawns lacking nitrogen may look yellow or brown. Lawns lacking potassium are less able to fight off damage from disease and drought. Any lawn that becomes thin or patchy can be taken over by weeds.
Does fertilizer make grass greener?
A well-fertilized lawn will look lush and green. The macronutrient nitrogen is specifically responsible for “greening up” your grass.
4 Common Minnesota Lawn Fertilizer Recommendations
Fertilization can be a complex process and is one of the best ways to improve the health of your lawn. The experts at Rainbow know the best tips and tricks for making the process seamless. When applying fertilizer to your lawn, there are a few important tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your fertilization efforts.
1. Water your lawn before and after fertilizing
We recommend watering your lawn thoroughly a day or two before applying fertilizer unless Mother Nature has already done so. Watering lightly after the application is also beneficial as it helps distribute the fertilizer into the soil.
2. Start fertilizing on the perimeter of your lawn
The best way to cover the entire lawn is to apply in the same way you mow. Go around the perimeter of your lawn, and then back and forth in a spiral until the entire area is covered. Remember to factor in how wide your spreader distributes fertilizer.
3. Always remove fertilizer from your driveway and nearby streets
After application, be sure to sweep or blow any granules on solid surfaces onto your lawn. This will prevent any residual fertilizer from being washed into storm sewers, and keep it out of waterways.
4. Don’t overfeed your plants
Overfeeding your lawn can cause a drying effect, resulting in the grass turning yellow or brown which is referred to as fertilizer burn. Be sure to use only the recommended amount!
Rely on Rainbow Lawncare to Handle Your Fertilization Needs
No other lawn care company does fertilization like we do! Our team of Minnesota experts understands the benefits of lawn fertilization services and can make recommendations that are best suited for your property goals and current state of your lawn.