When should you fertilize your lawn? General considerations on approaching fertilizer thoughtfully and tips to decide when an application is appropriate are below. However, let’s get to the short answer to this question, which is, Not right now. We are currently in a blackout period (June 1 through September 30) in which no fertilizer should be applied within Pinellas County; as Watershed Management notes, “Skip the fertilizer during the summer rainy season.”
How should you approach lawn care knowing that fertilizer is off the table until October 1? The key concern through August and September is to optimize irrigation so that you minimize runoff, saturation, and similar problems. In so doing, you will extend the nutrients that are in your lawn; if you have a strong landscaping services provider, they will have fertilized your lawn, if needed, in May. (Note that next February through May, we will be releasing further information and advice related to preparing for the Pinellas County summer fertilizer blackout.)
Use fertilizer conscientiously
Keeping plants healthy is very similar to keeping ourselves healthy: we must ensure there are sufficient nutrients to facilitate wellness and growth. These nutrients arrive to the plant from the soil or whatever substance where they are planted. Just like people can take vitamins or other dietary supplements, you can administer fertilizer.
Location, species, and age of a plant will all impact what it requires nutritionally, and in turn, when to fertilize. Often lawns and plants do not need fertilizer; when they do, there is an appropriate way to proceed.
As indicated by the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook, fertilizing excessively may seem helpful. However, it can cause pollution; plant atrophy and sickness; and the attraction of insects. You may have to mow and trim a bit more. These consequences are frustrating when you have paid for a service that is simply intended to make your yard look beautiful – so be certain that your landscaping team is careful and thoughtful about when to fertilize a lawn.
5 tips on when to fertilize
Now that it is clear you do not always want to apply fertilizer, let’s look at making that decision. Here are 5 tips on when to fertilize, from A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Florida-Friendly Fertilizing:
- Assess fertilizer needs by looking at the season, weather, type of grass, type of soil, and current health.
- Fertilize during a period of growth (i.e., typically not winter).
- If you have a lawn issue, address the root cause (e.g., a pest, poor soil, faulty irrigation distribution uncorrected by an irrigation service, or too much shade).
- For reclaimed water, check if you already have phosphorus or nitrogen in the water (in which case the nutrients are already being delivered).
- Avoid fertilize prior to extreme weather (such as flooding or hurricanes) or when rain is forecast in the upcoming day or two.
Ready to take action on improving the health of your landscape? Generally, you want a landscaper that will guide you on when to fertilize a lawn. Since we are currently in a blackout period, though, note our above discussion of irrigation optimization. At AtRidge, we understand that water is a precious and limited resource, and that proper distribution of water is a vital component to healthy grass.
If you’re unsure what to do, give us a call. 727.322.1200