Fertilizing your lawn
Watering your lawn is important for maintaining a healthy look but fertilization is also important to keeping your lawn looking great. Every lawn is different so make sure you consider the following factors to determine when and where to fertilize your lawn.
First, you need to figure out what type of grass you have to make the right choice to keep your yard healthy. Indiana is borderline cool and traditional grasses. A tip to determine the type of grass you have is to see what color your grass turns after the first frost. If your grass turns brown you most likely have a warm season grass. If your grass is able to stay green all year long you probably have a traditional or cool season grass.
Second, you will need to determine the pH level of your soil. The pH level will show you how acidic or alkaline your soil and grass are. This pH value is important because it will show how well your grass will be able to absorb the ingredients in your fertilizer. This test will help you pick out the best fertilizer for your yard.
A healthy yard will have a pH value around 6.5-7. To achieve the best possible environment for your grass to grow, you should try to bring your soil in between those values. Note than this process can take up to two to three months to reach so be sure to check again around that time. Its best if you can get the fertilizer at least 6 inches into the soil.
If your soil is too acidic then you need to add lime to increase the alkalinity of your soil to achieve the optimal pH value. Lime not only reduces the toxicity of your soil but also helps with the nutrients zinc, copper, and phosphorous. Be careful though not to over do it with the lime because it can end up killing your grass.
If the soil is too alkaline, then you’ll need to lower the pH value of your land. This is a bit more difficult and more expensive than raising the pH value. What you’ll need to add to your yard is sulfur. This is elemental sulfur, not sulfur that is used mixes such as ammonium sulfate so be sure to use the right type for your yard. Sulfur is typically a yellow powder referred to as “flower of sulfur”. Sulfur mixes can bring about the right pH balance but will take much longer than if you were to use elemental sulfur.
Third, you’ll need to estimate the size of your yard to make sure you buy the right quantity of fertilizer. Typically, fertilizer mixes are sold by the amount required to cover a certain square footage of your yard. Multiply the length of your yard by the width of your yard to find the size of your property. Subtract out the area occupied by the house and you will have a rough estimate of how much fertilizer you will need.
Fourth, apply the fertilizer. Its very important that you apply the fertilizer to your yard at the appropriate time. Your grass type determines when and how often you need to feed your yard. Most of the time, you will be fertilizing your yard as is actively growing. You should fertilize your yard two times per week during these time periods.
For the grasses found in Indiana, you will need to fertilize heavy in the fall and lightly in the beginning of spring. Because the grasses are cool grasses and transitional grasses, they will be growing primarily during the cool months of spring and fall. The ideal temperature for these grasses to grow is around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The most important growing period for these grasses is the fall though so make sure you apply your fertilizers heavily and consistently during this time period. Also, you can pick up specially formulated winter mixes to help protect your grass during the winter months.
In the spring, make sure you begin fertilizing before the hot months of summer. This will ensure you get the most benefit for your yard. You can use a slow release or a quick release fertilizer so long as you being early.
When you are finally ready to go out and fertilize your yard, check the spreader and the fertilizer for dryness. If they are wet, it will become difficult to fertilize your yard. Pick a speed on the spreader appropriate for your yards needs. Slower is usually better though. When you begin to fill up the spreader, make sure you have gloves and a mask on to protect yourself from the fertilizer. Once your spreader is full move across your lawn in a crisscross manner at half release speed. This will ensure that you fully cover your lawn. After you have finished fertilizing your yard, clean out the spreader and sweep up any fertilizer that didn’t make it to your yard.