Feeding a lawn is a relatively simple operation, but so many get it wrong, or do it when it it not necessary! Here's how and when to do it; and what to use.
Each of the aspects are important. Do it at the wrong time and you could end up with a weakened lawn. Use the wrong feed and scorching or unhealthy grass can result.
The process that causes most problems, is simply that of putting your fertiliser on the grass! Uneven application leads to a patch lawn at best, and a ruined lawn at worst!
For most, the safest fertiliser would be one of the brand names on sale at your garden centre or supplier. It stands to reason that the big brands have much experience in providing as fail-safe as possible, a product for turning your grass green without too many hiccups – unless you ignore their instructions!
Most established and cared-for lawns will only need a dedicated feed – rather than a combined feed, weed and moss-kill variation. If you do not have weeds, or moss, there is nothing to be gained by trying to kill them! On the contrary, it can be argued quite forcibly that you are just throwing chemical at the environment.
If you have a weed problem that cannot be sorted by spot treatment, then a combined fertiliser weed-kill is the route to go. You may have no option, for many garden centres seem to ‘major’ on stocking the 3 in 1 version!
If your lawn has been invaded by moss – often visible after the first cut or so, then you can uses a combined feed and moss application. The moss application is a short term measure – you need to do something about the root cause of moss in lawns.
If you only want feed – and want a dig at the garden centre – then use cheaper and environmental-friendly chicken pellets!
There are chemicals other than dedicated ‘lawn’ fertilisers that can be used. Here we talk about reliability and tried and tested methods!
Every lawn is different. You will need to assess the type of lawn you have and want, and then prepare a feeding regime to fit. Generally there are three main feeding seasons recommended (by others). Spring, summer and autumn! Forget any type of feeding during the winter months. Each of those seasons will be dependent upon where you live and also the climatic variations.
There seems to be an automatic reaction that lawns have to be fed in the spring. This is not always the case, and is generally though necessary because of the colour of the grass (stalks) after a severe cut to a lawn that has been allowed to ‘grow’ unchecked through the winter, and maybe did not get it last few cuts in previous October/November.
If you mow an overgrown lawn, it is going to appear yellowish and starved of food, simply because you are exposing the lower foliage which has not see light of day for a few months. It will be blanched because of lack of light.
Don’t rush the fertiliser if this is the reality of your situation. Most lawns will naturally recover their greenery after two or three cuts!
Likewise with weed applications; they should be allowed to grow a little before applying a weed and feed. After the third weekly cut – which will normally take you through to the end of April, is a good time to assess if your lawn requires feeding, and in the event that it does, then apply sooner rather than later. The soil is normally moist at this time, whereas going into May, it can start to dry out rapidly.
If the ground is dry, delay feeding until rain has dampened it again.
In the hotter, drier weather, lawns will naturally lose that fresh green carpet look – unless you are generous with the sprinkler. It may be that your yellowing lawn is simply as a result of hot dry weather, rather than lack of food. Most lawns – even if they turn brown, will soon recover after they have been rained upon.
If you decide that a feed is necessary, then try to time it just before rain. If the expected rain doesn’t happen, then you will need to water the lawn so as to avoid chemical scorch from the fertiliser. In spite of its name, ‘scorch’ does not happen because it is hot. It happens because the soil is dry, the neat chemicals are resting on or near the grasses, and the typical scorched appearance will be the result.
Summer will see my mail box full of queries about brown patches on the lawn. Nine times out of ten, it is caused by the incorrect application of lawn feed!
That which is sold for autumn feeding, is a different chemical balance to that used for spring and summer application. It is used to restore balance to the plant’s system. All spring and summer, the feeding regime will have been to encourage foliage – which you then cut off with the mower. The plant inherently becomes weaker as a result, so needs strengthening up again to face winter!
The word of the scribes and manufacturers is that the autumn feed is most important to feed the root system and generally toughen up the grass plants to withstand the cold of winter!
If it is applied, the autumn feed should not be left too late. End of September or into a mild October is fine. DO NOT be tempted to use the Nitrogen-rich leftovers from spring and summer. Use a proper autumn feed.
Nothing other than Autumn Lawn Feed should be used, unless you know what you are doing. Organic feeds oftain provide Nitrogen. It is NOT needed in the Autumn, so forget chicken pellets and the like.
Read the instructions on the packaging well and do exactly as it says! There are slight differences between some brands chemicals, so it is important that you comply with the recommendations.
At all times the soil should be moist for feed application. If parched dry, then far better to delay applications until rain has rectified the situation, rather than relying on the sprinkler – especially if there is a ban.
In late spring, don't let surface dew fool you into thinking the soil is moist! Dew is essentially on the foliage of the grass – it is not in the soil.