Great information Ron!
After the long, cold winter, we’d like to welcome you back to the growing season! Spring has sprung, and now’s the perfect time to begin your lawn fertilization program and provide your turf with a burst of nutrients.
Spring is a crucial time for your lawn as it comes out of its winter dormancy. Environmental stresses such as an extreme change in temperature will impact your grass’ overall health and growth. After your lawn has thawed come spring, it’s going to be more vulnerable to diseases, pests, and weeds.
Using a high-quality, effective, and easy-to-use spring fertilizer will set your lawn up nicely for the year ahead. Your aim is to give your lawn the best possible start in life, so you’ll save time and energy on herbicide, insecticide, and fungicide applications in the future. A weak, shallow-rooted lawn has a difficult time competing with weeds and pests.
The lawn-care industry is saturated with many fantastic lawn fertilization products — it can be hard to choose or even know what you’re looking for. This is why we recommend you conduct a soil test before fertilization to see a specific breakdown of which nutrients your lawn needs. Once you get the results, you’ll be in a better position to select a spring lawn fertilizer tailored to your grass’ nutrient requirements. Now, doesn’t that make a lot of sense?
Here, we’ve put together some recommendations on the best fertilizers to use on your lawn this spring.
When to Fertilize Your Lawn in Spring
The optimum time to start spring lawn fertilization is when the soil temperature reaches consistent temperatures of around 55ºF. Before you begin applying any lawn fertilizers to your grass, make sure the ground is no longer frozen. Fertilizer won’t permeate into your soil on a hard, frozen surface.
If you want to be specific, use a soil thermometer to check the temperature of your soil. Otherwise, check for visible signs of new life in your backyard, such as grass beginning to grow or flowers blossoming. In most parts of the United States, this falls around mid-April, but be sure to make your own judgment depending on your grass type and area.
Soil Testing Your Lawn
We’ve already mentioned this briefly, but testing your soil’s nutrient and pH levels are fundamental to helping you choose the right spring lawn fertilizer. There are three main macronutrients your grass needs to be golf course standard. These macronutrients are abbreviated to “NPK” (their chemical element) on most bags of fertilizer. The number below each letter indicates how much of each nutrient is supplemented in the bag of fertilizer by percentage.
- N — nitrogen — A key component of chlorophyll, the plant food that makes your grass a vibrant green. A lawn that doesn’t have enough nitrogen can look yellow and dry.
- P — phosphorous — Essential for strong, healthy turf root and stem development.
- K — potassium — Maintains root health and helps your lawn tolerate environmental stresses such as extreme changes in temperature and soil salinity.
For the best grass-growing conditions, your soil’s pH level should be neutral — between six and seven. If your soil is too acidic or alkaline, you’ll need to raise or lower the pH level in your soil with corrective products.
Spring Fertilizer for Lawns: Granular or Liquid?
Lawn fertilizers come in two different forms, granular and liquid. There’s no right or wrong answer to which type of fertilizer you should use, but for beginner DIY lawn enthusiasts, we recommend granular lawn fertilizers. They’re easy to store and distribute and are slow-release, so nutrients will break down over longer periods. You’ll only need to reapply granular fertilizers every four to six weeks. Liquid lawn fertilizers require precision, but they’re highly effective and ensure a uniform application. They also offer faster results. Liquid fertilizer produces visible results within three days, while granular fertilizer takes between five and seven days.
Granular Lawn Fertilizers
First, always read the product label to fully understand: a) how much fertilizer your lawn needs and b) how to calibrate your broadcast spreader for even application. Generally, 3 lbs per 1000 sq. ft is a good rule to follow. Below, our founder Ron shows you how to apply granular fertilizers safely and effectively.
If you’re using a liquid fertilizer, invest in a turf mark indicator dye, which shows areas you’ve already fertilized. Too much fertilizer will cause your lawn to grow too quickly, resulting in weak root systems vulnerable to disease.
The Best Spring Fertilizers for Your Lawn
The results of your soil test will specify which nutrients your lawn needs, but there are some exceptional fertilizers on the market that will especially help your grass green up in spring.
Stress 12-0-24 Granular Lawn Fertilizer
The Stress 12-0-24 from Lebanon Turf is suitable for a wide range of grass types and a great choice for spring as it contains 12% immediate and slow-release nitrogen and 24% potassium. Nitrogen will help previously dormant grass green up quickly (as will this fertilizer’s iron content), and the high potassium content will strengthen grassroots and aid water uptake and retention. A fertilizer high in potassium is ideal for spring, as it will inevitably help your lawn tolerate environmental stress, like the transition from winter to spring temperatures.
Humic Max 16-0-8 Granular Fertilizer
For nitrogen and potassium-deprived soil, try Humic Max. This lawn fertilizer contains 35% MESA slow-release nitrogen, which works on all grass types for a deep green color. Humic Max has an excellent balance of nitrogen and potassium compared to other fertilizers. This makes it ideal for monthly feeding, and you’ll see the effects of using this fertilizer in five to seven days. The addition of a humic acid biostimulant improves soil quality and stimulates beneficial microbial activity. This helps you get the most out of your fertilizer applications.
Complete 14-7-14 Granular Fertilizer
The Complete 14-7-14 is a granular lawn fertilizer that any beginner lawn-care enthusiast can try out. It provides your lawn with a broad range of macro and micronutrients, with results evident in as short as a week. With the substantial amounts of nitrogen and potassium (14%), your grass will green up quickly, while the added 7% phosphorus will drive deeper root growth. As Complete 14-7-14 contains slow and fast-release nitrogen, you can achieve a deep green color in your lawn without causing overgrowth. This granular fertilizer can be used as a starter fertilizer for new lawn projects or regular feeding if your soil needs a phosphorus boost. Rounding out the nutrient package is the addition of sea kelp and humic acid to improve soil quality.
The Best Liquid Spring Lawn Fertilizers
For more experienced lawn-care enthusiasts, liquid lawn fertilizers are incredibly fast-acting and effective. Using liquid fertilizers allows you to experiment with different combinations to find the perfect fertilization formula to feed your lawn. Below are a couple of our favorite products.
Release 901C™ from Mirimichi Green
Improve nutrient availability and uptake with this brilliant liquid fertilizer and biostimulant combination from Mirimichi Green. Containing 9% nitrogen and 1% potassium, this lawn fertilizer will help boost grass and root health in the spring. Its high carbon content (which creates aeration) will drive deeper, stronger root growth, while nano-sized nutrients maximize uptake and protect your turf from heat and drought.
NutriSolve - Liquid Soil Micronutrient
Micronutrients are what your lawn needs in smaller amounts. NutriSolve is an excellent product for providing your turf with a wide spectrum of nutrients. Mixed with other products like TurfPlex and Nutri-Kelp, this lawn fertilizer will help produce a deep green color for your lawn. NutriSolve will address any lack of nutrient availability caused by extreme pH levels in your soil, providing your turf with robustness and thick foliage.
Spring Lawn Fertilization
Fertilization isn’t the only lawn care maintenance you should be doing in the spring. Soil testing, adding pre-emergents, core aeration, and topdressing are just a few things on your lawn to-do list. If you want a more seasonal breakdown, take a look at our step-by-step guide.
To get the most from your lawn fertilizer in the spring, we thoroughly recommend core aeration. Pulling out plugs of soil from your lawn will improve the circulation of nutrients, air, and water. Importantly, looser soil improves porosity, which will maximize your spring lawn fertilizer applications by improving nutrient uptake.
Muddy or waterlogged lawn post-winter? Check out our blog post on why this happens and how to improve your lawn’s drainage in the future.