Did you know that grass can only absorb fertilizer when it is actively growing? That’s why the timing of fertilizer treatments is important. The best time to fertilize your lawn is in the spring, when the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s usually when spring flowers bloom and grass starts growing. Turfgrass plants stop growing – become dormant – when the soil temperature is below 55°F or in the heat of the summer. Grass is still growing and roots need nutrients in early Fall so fertilizer treatments should be applied. Fertilizer not absorbed by grass leaches into the subsoil and makes its way into groundwater or runs off into surface water, where it acts as a pollutant, contributing to algal blooms and poor water quality.
Suffolk County has restrictions on fertilizer application timing to make sure fertilizer is absorbed by the grass and does not end up polluting the environment. That includes no application between Suffolk County – no application between November 1 and April 1.
Things to remember:
- Grass must be actively growing to benefit from fertilizer. In the absence of measuring soil temperature, mid-April is a good start date if fertilizer is found to be necessary.
- Pay attention to soil temperatures – grass must be active to benefit from fertilizer.
- When using slow release fertilizer allow adequate time for grass to absorb the fertilizer before going dormant in the fall.
- Apply fertilizer only within dates set by state and local regulations.
In addition, irrigation needs to be managed.
- Don’t overwater. Pay attention to the amount of rain your area has received before watering.
- If you have an irrigation system in place, ensure it is properly set up to avoid over watering.
- Nutrient leaching occurs frequently during periods of slow turf growth. During these times, reduced irrigation can help limit leaching.