Spring Fertilizing: Are You Making The Number One Spring Lawn Care Mistake?

Spring fertilizing of your lawn is not difficult, but you do need a basic understanding of what is the right way to go about spring lawn care. That includes avoiding the number one mistake. You’ve heard of get-rich-quick schemes? Well, get-green-quick schemes for your turf in spring are just about as reliable!

The Number One Mistake When Fertilizing Lawn

What is the number 1 mistake when fertilizing lawn?Reasoning that nitrogen is important to a green lawn, people run out as soon as they can and throw a nitrogen-rich fertilizer on their turf. Believe it or not, that is the absolute worst thing you can do, especially for cool-season grass varieties. Although this ‘greens’ the grass up almost immediately, and provides instant gratification, it’s a short-term result with long-term consequences.

Understanding Spring Fertilizing

Nitrogen vs seaweed for early spring fertilizingNitrogen is essential to greening and growing the blade of the grass plant. So why is this so wrong in early spring lawn care?

You see, nitrogen is for growing the blades of grass, and it takes energy away from the roots in order to do so.  In spring, you need to nourish the roots, not the blades, in order to build a firm foundation for a lush lawn.

Instead of using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, use a seaweed soil booster. Although one of its benefits is that it frees up nitrogen in the soil for the turf to make use of, it is, first and foremost, a soil treatment. Healthy soil is essential for healthy roots.


The Organic Double-Whammy Fertilizing Lawn Mistake

Yes, there’s more than one spring fertilizing mistake that is made over and over again. Corn gluten meal is an amazing organic pre-emergent weed killer (it kills weed seeds as they sprout), but it is also an excellent source of slow-release nitrogen. So, if you feed and then use corn gluten meal, you’re really giving a double-whammy of nitrogen.

Too much nitrogen fertilizing

Spring lawn care that has that amount of nitrogen feeding is going to give you green grass with stunted root growth, and weak turf will result.

Take a minute to plan ahead when it comes to spring fertilizing. If you plan on spring lawn care that includes using corn gluten meal to kill crabgrass (as soon as the snow melts), or dandelions (late April – early May), do not use any other nitrogen rich fertilizer in spring. Do enrich the soil with a seaweed feed to help the root-system, but avoid the get-green-quick scheme that will hurt your turf in the long run.


Other Ways You Are Already Fertilizing Lawn

Lawn mowingWith our better understanding of the environment, and how to protect it, many of us have invested in mulching lawn mowers. These chop up the clippings, and return it to the turf as the most natural of all fertilizers. Right there, you are already providing a source of nitrogen to your grass. By now, you begin to see that this craze of spring fertilizing with even more nitrogen-rich feed is way beyond what the blades of grass require.


When Is The Right Time?

Of course fertilizing lawn is important. In the late spring, all through the summer, and early fall – these are important times to get a nitrogen food source to your growing turf.

Get-green-quick schemes by fertilizing lawn with nitrogen as part of early spring lawn care leaves you with a turf that’s top heavy with green and a weak root system. Give your grass a chance to develop a healthy root system first, by using a seaweed soil booster. Think about your upcoming spring plans; are you planning to apply corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent weed killer? That will provide more than enough nitrogen to your turf. And, if you’re mulching your lawn clippings, that too is a source of nitrogen. Your turf will need feeding in the warm months to come, but for spring fertilizing, focus your attention on growing the grass roots of your lawn for lushness that will last all year long.

Basics of Spring Fertilizing

Judd Burdon

About Judd Burdon

Judson Burdon is the founder and owner of World-of-Lawn-Care.com, a division of Loyalty International Ltd. He's helped thousands of home owners, property owners and contractors get the right tools and lawn care equipment they need for their properties. Find out more about Judd at Google.
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2 Responses to Spring Fertilizing: Are You Making The Number One Spring Lawn Care Mistake?

  1. Jennifer Collins says:

    When is best time to use corn gluten meal and seaweed soil booster for fescue since it is a cool season grass? I have done a lot of reading and would like to follow your suggestions. I am a first time grass grower.

    • Judd says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      The best time to fertilize a cool season grass like fescue is in the fall, winter, and early spring. You can use seaweed soil booster once in September, October, and then again in February.

      Corn gluten meal is for killing weed seeds before they start, so early spring and late summer (after the heat has died down) are your best bet for applying corn gluten meal. When you plan on applying corn gluten meal, check the forecast to make sure it’s dry–It won’t work if it’s raining for several days afterward. When applying the corn gluten meal, water it in. It will kill off the weed seeds, and it will also feed your grass. The effects won’t be immediate, but with regular applications, you can have a healthier, weed-free lawn.