Fertilizing a lawn provides important nutrients that help the grass to grow and flourish fast. Fertilizing at the right time helps grass withstand pests, weeds, and seasonal elements like heat, drought, and cold. So, what is the best time to fertilize a lawn, before or after rain?
The best time to fertilize a lawn is when the weather is calm, preferably a day after rain. Applying fertilizer before heavy rain is ineffective because the surface run-off will wash off the fertilizer before the plants absorb it.
Best Time to Fertilize a Lawn – Before or After Rain?
Rain can affect how your lawn fertilizer is absorbed and utilized by the grass. This is why there is a need to understand the best time and weather to fertilize a lawn. This should be the first step, whether using liquid or granular fertilizer.
You should fertilize your lawn a day or so after heavy rainfall. At this time, the grass will not be wet, all the pools of water in the lawn will be gone, and the soil temperature will be cool. This gives the grass time to break down and absorb fertilizer for maximum benefit.
Applying fertilizer to your lawn right after heavy rain is a bad idea. At that moment, the grass blades are wet, the Ground is heavily soaked with water, and the nutrients can easily be washed off to concentrate only in some areas of the lawn.
Alternatively, if you are keen on weather forecasts, fertilize your lawn before a gentle rainfall. Applying fertilizer before a heavy downpour is a waste and environmental pollution. The runoff will carry away the fertilizer into the nearby water sources before it gets absorbed.
Fertilizing your lawn when the grass is not stressed adds to the success of your project. Apart from the rain factor, you should also consider the drought conditions of the lawn. Heat, in particular, greatly stresses the grass, and it won’t be able to absorb nutrients.
Best Time of the Day to Fertilize a Lawn
The time of the day for applying fertilizer on your lawn doesn’t matter; the weather does. If the temperatures are above 90° Fahrenheit, you should not fertilize your lawn. The fertilizer will be absorbed quickly into the soil at that temperature, burning your grass.
In hot weather, the fertilizer may also be burned by the heat, and by the time it gets into the soil, it will have fewer nutrients, which does not benefit the grass. At the same time, strong winds may blow away the fertilizer concentrating it in some spots.
When working with granular fertilizer, you should consider applying it in the morning. Thereafter, gently water the lawn to help the fertilizer get into the soil for better absorption. There is no need to water if you use a liquid fertilizer.
What does fertilizer do for grass?
Soil usually contains some nutrients needed by plants, but the amount may not be sufficient enough to sustain the growth of grass in the entire season. This is why the need to fertilize your lawn comes in. Here are reasons why lawn fertilizing is important.
- It is a way of adding important nutrients into the soil to benefit the grass. Lawn fertilizers contain nitrogen, which encourages leaf growth and phosphorus – essential for strong root development, and Potassium – which prepares the plants for harsh elements like drought, diseases, and foot traffic, among others.
- Fertilizing gives you a green thick lawn quickly. Without providing important nutrients to the grass through fertilizing, achieving your desired lawn goals would take forever. Fertilizer boost growth, making it thick and fuller within a short period.
- Fertilizing is part of basic lawn maintenance practices. Lawns need good care for grass to thrive. You have to water adequately, mow, fertilize and control weeds and pests.
When Should You Fertilize Your Lawn
Knowing when to fertilize your lawn is very important. Apart from making the fertilizer very useful to your grass, timing also helps prevent lawn problems such as the growth of weeds, grass thinning, and fertilizer burns, among others.
We have seen that fertilizing is very important to the growth of a lawn. However, when and how often to fertilize a lawn depends on your grass type, growing zone, and sometimes soil test recommendations. Typically, your lawn will need fertilizer at least twice per season.
For warm-season grass, fertilize your lawn when the grass starts growing throughout spring and summer. You should target only three to four pounds of nitrogen-rich fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn annually. Ensure your slow or quick-release fertilizer is fully absorbed before the start of the high temperatures of summer.
The next round of applications should be done in late August or early September once the peak summer heat has passed. This will give your lawn ample time to absorb the fertilizer, which will be helpful in preparation for the harsh winter ahead.
Cool-season grasses actively thrive during spring and fall. Fertilize your lawn heavily in the fall and lightly in early spring. You should only target two pounds of nitrogen-rich slow or fast-release fertilizer per 1,000 square feet per year. You may also apply special winter fertilizers to protect your grass during the cold months.
Tip 1: Do not apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer on your lawn when the grass is dormant. This will encourage the growth of weeds. Only fertilize your lawn once the grass has turned green after winter or summer.
Tip2: Always read the label on the fertilizer. This will help you know how long the fertilizer lasts in the soil to avoid over-fertilizing, which could damage your lawn.
Fertilizing a lawn is a very important step that helps the grass blades and roots to establish faster. You should fertilize your grass in cool, calm weather, preferably one or two days after rain. Be sure to read and understand label instructions before using a lawn fertilizer.
- Suffolk County Cornell Cooperative Extension: TIMING FERTILIZER APPLICATION
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Wait to Fertilize Your Lawn