If you don’t want to hire a lawn care company for fertilizing services, it’s worth doing some research on how to do it yourself. We lay out a basic schedule for homeowners to follow in order to setup a fertilizing schedule for your lawn, and get the best lawn in the neighborhood.
Once the weather starts to warm up, it’s a good idea to cleanup the lawn once again. Rake up any dead grass or leaves that were left from the winter. Around March or April it’s best to put a fertilizer down that also has pre-emergent crabgrass and weed protection. Some companies we recommend are Scotts Turf Builder with Halts Crabgrass Preventer and
Lesco Professional, 19-0-7, Crabgrass Preventer Turf Fertilizer.
Be sure that you are mowing high! Too often we are asked to cut the lawn under 3 inches. This is TOO low for the spring and summer in Pennsylvania. 3.5″ Is our favorite to cut at. In order to get thick, healthy grass, lawns need to grow high during these seasons. Fall and Winter are the only times you should be cutting at 3″ or lower. If you want the lawn to be overtaken by crabgrass and weeds, by all means mow the lawn too low!
Also, this is a great time to overseed and aerate if you haven’t yet. Lawns will be compacted from the cold Northern winters, and aerating is a great way to loosen the soil. Overseeding, in combination with a fertilizer and pre-emergent, is the absolute best way to jump start a lawn.
The lawn shouldn’t need fertilizer until around July, so for the most part, summer is spent enjoying the lawn. If you have had problems with grubs in the past, however, we suggest applying Scott’s GrubEx in the early summer. Grubs are the larvae of Japanese Beetles and other Beetle species like the June Beetle.
Scott’s Summerguard is a great option for a lawn that has issues with ants, spiders or ticks. It’s essentially a nitrogen heavy fertilizer that also has insecticides in it. If the lawn doesn’t have an issue with insects, just apply a regular granular fertilizer with a Nitrogen content of at least 20. So looking at the bag it should say something like “20-0-8”.
Grubs love healthy lawns. The nicer your lawn is, the more likely you are going to have an issue with grubs. Grubs feed on the roots of grass seeds. The healthier a lawn is, the more resistant it will be to grub damage. If the lawn is facing a drought and it’s not being watered enough, the damage done by grubs will be far worse. Be sure that grubs are the problem and not a fungus such as lawn rust.
Additionally, make sure the lawn has enough water if there is a drought. In the summer of 2018, I don’t think we had a single week where it didn’t rain, so there wasn’t a problem with drought!
It’s finally time to start lowering the cutting height of the lawn. Do this periodically however, and not all at once. Never take off more than a third of the grass height in one mow. Simplest way to safely lower the cutting height is by lowering the deck of the deck a quarter-half inch every week until you get to 2.75-3″. Southern grasses can go lower, but for the northeast keep it at the minimum 2.75 inches.
Cutting low is important for preparing a lawn for winter. If grass is left high in the winter, the lawn will be susceptible to “snow mold”.
Fertilizer can be applied twice in the fall to maximize lawn health. This can be done in early September, around Labor day, and again towards the end of October or November. if you decide to skip the labor day fertilizer, be sure to apply the final one in October or November. This is one of the most important times to fertilize. The “final fertilizer” helps feed the lawn through the winter, and ensures the lawn will come back stronger than ever in the Spring.
How to setup a fertilizing schedule for your lawn:
End of March/April: Pre-emergent herbicide and fertilizer combination
June: GrubEx treatment for grub prevention
Early-Mid July: Standard Granular Fertilizer With Nitrogen Content above 20. OR, Scott’s Summerguard if insects are an issue.
Labor Day-Early September: Standard Granular Fertilizer With High Nitrogen content (30+). Look at Scott’s Fall Lawnfood.
November: Same as above, Standard Granular Fertilizer With High Nitrogen content (30+). Look at Scott’s Fall Lawnfood.
I hope these tips helped! If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us.