How many times a year should I fertilize?
For Northern Michigan lawns, Fall and Spring applications are most important. The grass is going into dormancy in the fall and coming out of dormancy in the Spring. It is vital to get the grass the nutrients it needs at these times.
We typically recommend a fertilizer plan of five applications:
Early Spring- Application 1
The Early Spring fertilizer application is important as it wakes your grass up and has crabgrass prevention in it. Crabgrass prevention is key in the Spring as it is already beginning to germinate in your turf. Be sure to not fertilize too early in the Spring as putting fertilizer on the frozen ground where grass has not started to grow yet is not only a waste but a potential environmental hazard as well. The grass is likely still dormant and the nutrients are not going to provide any benefit.
Fertilizing too early can also encourage top growth of your grass, which means the nutrients are not pulled down into the root of your grass. A strong root system is critical for your grass to survive and thrive in the warm summer months.
Late Spring and Late Summer- Applications 2 & 4
As grass really starts growing, the goal of fertilizer shifts to focus on weed control before/after the hotter temperatures arrive. Applications 2 and 4 have both slow-release balanced fertilizer and weed control.
Summer- Application 3
The Summer fertilizer application focuses on feeding your lawn and helping it sustain growth during stress. There is no weed control added to this application, only spot spraying of weeds that popped up after the Late Spring round.
This is really the most important fertilizer applied all season. It is still slow-release and has nutrients for extended feeding and root development. The nutrients provided create growth in the top of the grass that will be pulled to the root allowing energy to be stored up that will be used next spring to encourage growth. Fall fertilization allows the grass time to recover from the hot summer as well.