When is it Too Cold to Fertilize Lawn? (What Temperature?)

Fertilizing your lawn is important for growth and color. To get the best results, lawn fertilizer should be applied in the right season of the year. Extreme temperatures negatively affect how plants absorb nutrients. So, when is it too cold to fertilize a lawn?

Temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit are too cold to fertilize a lawn. At this point, the soil is frozen, and so are the roots of the grass. Dormant grass won’t absorb the fertilizer and will be a big waste fertilizing a lawn.

Fertilize your lawn when the soil temperature is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit in spring or fall. After a cold winter, plants crave nutrients. Fertilizing at this time will help your grass grow actively, healthy and lush.

When is it Too Cold to Fertilize the Lawn?

Fertilizing your lawn when temperatures are too cold wastes time and money. The grass is dormant and will not benefit from fertilizer application. Fertilize your lawn when the soil temperature is at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Generally, you are not supposed to fertilize the lawn when it is dormant. Grass usually goes dormant when the temperatures are too cold. The cold winter season can also cause frost to develop on your lawn. Humidity is high, and dew may freeze on the grass blades.

Many gardeners believe they should stop fertilizing when they see frost on grass blades. However, that is not true. You can still fertilize your lawn as late as early December. The grass will utilize the nutrients if the soil is not frozen.

Grass root systems remain active until when the soil is frozen. Therefore, mid to late November can still be a great time to fertilize your lawn in preparation for winter. As long as the soil is not frozen, the roots can still utilize the fertilizer effectively.

Don’t Fertilize Too Early in the spring

Fertilizing your lawn too early in the spring is also fertilizer waste. The grass is still dormant and may not utilize the nutrients. Additionally, weeds may take advantage of the nutrients to take over your lawn.

Fertilizing early in the spring can also be problematic for your lawn. It promotes shoot growth at the expense of root development. Grass requires a deep rooting system to grow healthy and prepare for the hot summer season ahead.

Also Check: Best Time to fertilize a Lawn before or after Rain

What Temperature should I Fertilize my Lawn

Fertilize your lawn when the air temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit consistently for several days. While the soil temperature should be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The exact time to fertilize your grass will depend on the type of grass you are growing. There are two main types of grasses; cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses.

Cool-Season Grasses

Different varieties of cool-season grasses include Kentucky bluegrass, tall and fine fescues, and ryegrass. They prefer cool or lower temperatures that are common in areas like northern parts of the United States.

Cool-season grasses have 2 peak growing periods. One is early in the spring after winter dormancy, and the second is early fall. They can go dormant in high summer temperatures until water and cool temperatures are available.

At 55 degrees Fahrenheit in early spring, cool-season grass will start to wake from its dormancy. Apply fertilizers when the average soil temperature is at 50 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours.

Apply the second round in the spring when the temperature is 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. 70 degrees Fahrenheit is an important temperature for cool-season grass in the spring and also in the fall as the temperature begins to drop after a hot summer.

Warm-Season Grasses

Different varieties of warm-season grasses include Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, Centipede grass, Kikuyu grass, and Zoysia grass. They are ideal for growing in areas with warm temperatures, such as the southern region of the United States.

Fertilize warm-season grass when the soil temperatures are between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, your grass has fully woken up from the dormancy.

Once the soil temperature hits 80 degrees Fahrenheit, warm-season grasses are really thriving well, unlike cool-season grasses that may be dormant during this period. This is the best temperature to give your lawn a second dose of fertilizer to help it grow green and thick.

Is it Too Late to Fertilize your Lawn in November?

November is when your grass is recovering from heat, drought, pests, diseases, and other stresses from summer. It is important to fertilize your lawn during this period. It enables the grass to store enough carbohydrates to help it resist winter stresses.

However, there are several instructions to follow when fertilizing your lawn in the late fall.

1. Fertilize at the right time

Fertilizing your lawn at this time of the year also provides better coloring over the winter and early in the spring. Timing is important when it comes to fertilizing in late fall. You do not want to fertilize grass when the ground has already frozen.

Fertilize your lawn when the grass has already stopped growing or when the growth rate is low. However, you should not wait for too long before fertilizing in the late fall. The ground may freeze before applying fertilizer.

If you are unsure when to fertilize, consult your local weather forecast station about the weather pattern of your region.

2. Choose the right fertilizer ratio

At this time of the year, your lawn needs a fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen and potassium. An ideal fertilizer ratio should be 24-4-12. Nitrogen and potassium ratios are higher than phosphorus to enhance rooting, cold hardiness, wear tolerance, and disease resistance during the winter season ahead.

Be sure to use a slow-release fertilizer. It should be able to break down slowly to release small quantities of nutrients into the soil as required by the plant. Slow-release fertilizers can also last in the soil for the entire season.

When fertilizing your lawn, using 1 pound of fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of lawn is recommended. Applying excess fertilizer can burn your lawn.

Also check: The best lawn fertilizer ratio for lawns

Can you Fertilize in January?

It’s too late to fertilize your lawn in January. Generally, you are not supposed to fertilize your grass when it is dormant. Grass can be dormant when the weather is too cold to too hot. Don’t be fooled by the term ’winter fertilizers.’ Winter fertilizers are applied on the lawn in the fall to prepare for the winter season.

Final Thoughts

Fertilizing your lawn in cold temperatures is a waste of time and fertilizer. It also promotes weed growth while stunting the roots. Be sure to fertilize grass when the soil temperatures exceed 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Before fertilizing your lawn, read and understand the label and instructions on the package. You need to be aware of application ratios per square foot and how long they last in the soil before re-applying.


  1. Suffolk County Cornell Cooperative Extension: TIMING FERTILIZER APPLICATION
  2. The Texas A&M University: Lawn Fertilization for Texas Warm-Season Grasses
  3. University of Minnesota Extension: Lawn care calendar

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