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How And When To Apply Fertilizer

      Like most aspects of lawn care, fertilization should be completed during a certain season or time of the year to ensure the best results. Here in Alberta, it’s best to start fertilizing in the spring months between April and May. Other considerations include what type of grass you have, the fertilizer you’re using, and whether you are applying (or need to apply) weed treatments.

      The best answer when it comes to fertilizer is relying on the expertise of a professional lawn care company. At Yard Dawgs we specialize in weed control, fertilizer, and other lawn care treatments.

     A company will use a better grade of fertilizer and there is less of a chance for fertilizer burn. However, many homeowners choose to go the DIY route. So, read on to educate yourself on what to expect, and how to apply properly.

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What Is Fertilizer Used For?


      Fertilizer refers to any product that is designed to increase the growth of plants, from lawns to flowers to trees to shrubs. There are several types of fertilizer on the market for different purposes, for example mulch fertilizer designed for landscaping around shrubs and trees. Fertilizer is the best way to enhance your lawn, to get it growing healthy and thick.

      There are several different types of fertilizers out there today, ranging from ones to feed the roots or to feed the blades of the grass. Ones also, that are meant for different seasons. This is one of the reasons professionals come in handy. Lawn care experts will be able to apply the right fertilizer at the right time.

      If you choose the DIY route, you’ll have to make sure you do it right. Take the time to learn about the products you choose and how they’re best applied to ensure you get the best outcome from each application.


How Much Fertilizer To Use On Your Lawn


      Follow the directions on the fertilizer bag, they are generally made to supply about ½ to one pound of nitrogen per application. These instructions are usually given in pounds of nitrogen to be applied per one thousand square feet. A soil test is a great way to figure out how much fertilizer to use on your lawn. The results will tell you how nutrient deplete your soil is.

      As a general guide, the amount of fertilizer you should be using on your lawn: A 50lb bag of fertilizer will typically cover 5,000 to 10,000 square feet.


Best Time To Fertilize Your Lawn (Before Or After Rain?)


       With fertilizer purchased at a hardware store, we recommend applying about three times per season. However, follow the instructions on the bag to determine how much you should be applying the fertilizer. For grass in Alberta, because it’s cool season grass, we recommend different fertilizer ratios for different months.

Round 1: Between April 1st and June 1st you should apply an early spring fertilizer. This should be one that has a high ratio of nitrogen, no phosphorus and low potassium. (i.e., 40-0-3)

Round 2: Between June 1st and September 1st apply a summer fertilizer. This should keep the lawn fed but also focus on your lawn's health. (i.e., 25-0-5)

Round 3: Between September 1st and November 1st apply a fall fertilizer that has a healthy balance of nitrogen and increased potassium to protect the lawn from the upcoming winter. (i.e., 10-0-16)

      Remember it’s more important to focus on the quality of fertilizer rather than repeating applications. In fact, using too much fertilizer will burn your lawn.

Should I Apply Fertilizer Before Or After Rain?

      Fertilizer will work best on a moist soil. With that said, if you apply before heavy rain the fertilizer is likely to wash away with the water. In general, rain after a fertilizer application is a good thing. It helps break down the fertilizer granules into the soil so that it can be taken up into the root system.

      If you’ve applied fertilizer and you are aware of a heavy rain in the forecast, run your irrigation system. This is the only time we recommend watering before rain. The sprinkler will help dissolve the fertilizer into the soil and therefore you can avoid any excess water carrying away the granules before the rain arrives.

      If it has rained before you’ve applied fertilizer on your lawn, wait a day or two. This way the soil be a bit moist and the perfect condition for the fertilizer.


How Often Can You Fertilize Your Lawn?


      How often you fertilize your lawn relies heavily on whether or not you’re using a high- or low-quality fertilizer. A high-quality fertilizer will do more for your lawn than a low quality one will do in 2 or 3 applications.

      Typically, you should fertilize your lawn every 6 to 8 weeks.

      Over fertilizing comes when you create too high of a salt concentration in the soil. You’ll see the results of this when your grass begins to yellow and brown. When the nitrogen levels in your soil rise too much it will kill your grass.

     To avoid burning your grass use a slow-release fertilizer. This means the nutrients are not available to the soil immediately. It leaches out slowly.


How To Apply Lawn Fertilizer


lawn care technician uses spreader to apply fertilizer granules across a lawn


      The way to apply lawn fertilizer is by using a spreader. This, as opposed to hand fertilizing, ensures a fuller and even coverage. After choosing the correct spreader, locate the dial and turn it to the setting indicated on the fertilizer bag. The numbers on the spreader tell you how much fertilizer or product will be applied over a certain amount of space.

      We recommend testing your soil prior to picking a fertilizer. It’ll give you the breakdown of the nutrients missing from your lawn. Make sure you measure your lawn accurately.

      This is a process that can be done quickly via Google Maps. If you know your lawn size, you’ll know better how much fertilizer you should apply to your lawn. Make sure you know what fertilizer you applied, how much and when you applied it.

      Once you’ve chosen your fertilizer, you will need to measure it out and prepare it for application. Then, spread it evenly over the entire lawn. Using a spreader will make the application more even so no spots get missed and there aren’t piles of fertilizer that are not distributed properly.

      Your next step will be to water the lawn, so the granules of fertilizer break down into the roots of the grass. The label on the product you’ve chosen will tell you how often to water after the fertilizer application.

      Maintenance usually involves reapplying fertilizer based on how fast your lawn grows and how quickly the soil nutrients deplete. As previously mentioned, it’s best to fertilize about three times a year: spring, summer, and fall.

      Again, this is where experts come in handy. It’s difficult to know when and what type of fertilizer you should be using on your lawn at any given time in the year. A professional lawn care company will be able to yield the results you want.


Lawn Fertilizer: The Good And The Bad


      Fertilizer is the best resource for people who want lusher, greener lawns. Alongside a good weed control solution, it’s what turns average lawns into rich thick grass without a weed in sight. There are several different types of fertilizer on the market today, as mentioned, but they all have similar pros and cons.


  • Fertilizer can increase growth and plant yields
  • Lawns become thicker and lush
  • It’s a better protection against weeds because the lawn is healthy
  • Supplies plants with nutrients for optimal growth
  • Fertilizer is easy to transport and store


  • There is the potential for soil and groundwater pollution when applied incorrectly (i.e., the DIY method)
  • Plants could grow too fast
  • Incorrect use of fertilizers can be harmful
  • Fertilizers can often harm microorganisms that live in the soil
  • There is a big problem with overfertilization in a lot of DIY cases

      Be sure to exercise extra caution during each step of the process. Fertilizer is great for the lawn but needs to be applied correctly.


Rely On The Experts For The Best Results


lawn care technician pulls cover over fertilizer spreader filled with granules of fertilizer


      When applying fertilizer and weed control together you’ll need to compare the products. In some instances, it’s best to do weed control and then fertilize, but fertilization in the spring also gets the yard growing from the winter thaw. A lawn care professional will tell you about the different products and phases of treating your lawn, from killing weeds to enhancing growth. They will be able to deliver the perfect lawn with the solutions delivered right on time.

      Yard Dawgs is the best at what we do. We are experts at knowing what is best for each yard, and we put special effort into creating a maintenance schedule that guarantees a healthy lawn all season long.

      We take pride in creating custom solutions for each client based on the needs of their lawn. We provide a season long fertilizer service, and much more. We would love to take the work off your hands this season!

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