I think the first thing I should say is that less is more and that is true in terms of fertilizing your lawn.That is not true if you look at it from the point of big business they want you to use more or they make less. What I mean is that lawn fertilizer companies are mot giving you the whole scoop when it comes to growing a healthy green lawn. According to research conducted by the University Of Minnesota shows that the best time to fertilize your lawn is between Labor day and Thanksgiving. That of course is for zone 5 lawns down to zone 2. An application at the beginning of September followed by one at the beginning of November is sufficient unless you are growing improved bluegrass the a late May application is recommended as well.
If you fertilize in the Spring you are actually do more harm to your lawn than you are good. Early spring applications of nitrogen the first macro nutrient on the lawn fertilizer bag gives grass it’s kick which stimulate shoot growth. When you stimulate shoot growth you are actually depleting the energy reserves built up in the root system the previous fall which will reduce the health of the turf.
You are probably wondering why then we are bombarded by commercials and advertising by the big fertilizer companies about the importance of feeding your lawn four times a year. Well think about it if you were running a business and all of a sudden you started selling only half the amount of product as you use to would that not make you a bit nervous. The lawn fertilizer companies do not want you to switch off the four time a year program because they have spent millions each year to get you to buy their products.
The truth of the matter is that if these large corporations wanted to really help you to have a healthy lawn they would have you start out by testing your soil. The amount of N-P-K ( nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium ) is what the major nutrient your lawn requires in order to to keep it strong and healthy. In the past few years the research has shown that you have enough phosphorus in the soil of the average lawn to meet the needs of the grass plants for the next ten years. Unlike nitrogen and potassium the phosphorus actually binds to the soil and is not depleted quickly so you are actually paying for something that in most cases is totally unnecessary. Why would these companies not tell you this? The fact is that if you are more educated about what really is necessary for your lawns nutritional needs then you will know that you only need a half of the product you are now buying. Not good for their bottom line.
It is not only your pocket book that should concern you here it is what is dumping all these excess chemicals into the ecosystem doing to the environment. All these extra nutrients that are not being used are leaching out of your lawn and getting washed into the water shed, this throws off the system and creates even more problems. As a professional grounds keeper part of my job is to keep the lawns looking lush and green, the other side of the coin is they want me to do it as economically as possible. By cutting the fertilizer order in half I do believe that I am not only looking out for the best interest of my employer but the interest of the environment as well.