The fall season provides ideal growing conditions for your lawn. Breezy nights, sunny days, sufficient rainfall and morning dew are all perfect combinations for grass. With these conditions, your lawn is ready to grow again and is looking for the nutrients it needs to replenish from the brutal summer heat.

Fall is often regarded as the single most important lawn feeding of the year. For a beginner looking to spruce up their lawn look below at the steps and information to help you achieve a new lush landscape.

Reasons to fertilize:

Over time, lawns will keep important nutrients out of the soil. With most of these nutrients being water-soluble, heavy rains can quickly carry these nutrients out of your soil which leaves the lawn depleted of its food source. Fertilizer is the key ingredient in order to maintain a healthy lawn. A typical neighborhood lawn takes less than 20 minutes of your time to fertilize. How it works:

Going to a store to pick out bags of fertilizer may seem overwhelming with all the terms and ratios posted on the outside of the bag. But overall many fertilizers consist of three main nutrients- nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. All three play an equally important part in promoting a healthy lawn. Nitrogen aids the production of the chemical chlorophyll which is crucial to photosynthesis. Phosphorus helps develop roots and stems for your lawn. Potassium meanwhile, provides strength enabling your lawn to withstand drought.

What it means:

Bags of fertilizer will likely list a 3 number ratio. The numbers represent the percentages of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) often known as the N-P-K ratio. For example if a fertilizer is labeled 15-5-20, that means it contains 15 percent nitrogen, 5 percent phosphorus, and 20 percent potassium. The rest of the bag is immobile materials and elements. Remember to find a fertilizer high in nitrogen since you want to encourage growth. Even though phosphorus and potassium are crucial in the development of your lawn, your lawn needs less of these two elements than it needs nitrogen. Also consider leaving grass clippings in your yard upon mowing. Clippings help mulch your lawn and are high in nitrogen.

Applying fertilizer:

Just like mowing a lawn, start on the perimeter of the yard and work your way inward. Be sure to keep the granules out of the driveway and sidewalk as it is wasteful and will be carried into storm drains after a heavy rain, harming aquatic life and posing a danger to water collection systems including your drinking water. Gardening beds need to be monitored as well since the fertilizer you’re spreading may hurt your flower bed or produce.

The two types of fertilizer that are preferred are liquid and granular fertilizers. Liquid fertilizer is a cheaper option than granular fertilizer and can easily be applied with a watering can, but it requires more applications and could result in ruining your lawn if too much is used. The cons of liquid fertilizer have many swearing to avoid its use. Most homeowners prefer granular fertilizer since it is easily applied using a rotary spreader. Hand operated or push operated are most common depending on your lawn size. Granular fertilizers may take longer to show results compared to liquid, but they don’t have to be applied nearly as often. It offers less of a chance of the fertilizer leeching out of the soil which gives your lawn less of a chance to burn by overusing the fertilizer. While not as cheap as liquid, the margin for error is less and makes up for the price.

When to fertilize:     

Depending on the amount of time and money you want to spend, in general people should apply a light fertilization in the spring and early summer along with a heavy application in the fall. Applying fertilizer right before the winter months when grass is beginning to settle down for a winter nap allows roots to strengthen and increase nitrogen storage for an early spring and a healthier lawn next year. Following a schedule like this should improve your lawn. For more information regarding fertilizer click here, or for a brief checklist on fertilizer application, go here.