Fertilize in the fall. Why? Your grass has been growing and using nutrients all summer. Feeding it in the fall provides nutrients that the roots can store up on during the winter. Your lawn will green up more quickly in the spring and you will help eliminate summer diseases.
Apply fertilizers sparingly. Choose an organic fertilizer. Use no more than than 1 lb nitrogen for every 1000 ft2 for quick release fertilizers. A much recommended product is one that has water insoluble nitrogen. These are marked WIN on the package.
Spread the fertilizer in two directions. Using a grid approach will allow you to evenly spread the fertilizer. Spread half in one direction and then spread the other half in a perpendicular direction. You will eliminate those long patches of green stripes from over-application of fertilizer in one spot. Rotary spreaders are convenient and faster to use than drop spreaders. If you do use a drop spreader, be sure to calibrate it. Sweep up any fertilizer from sidewalks, driveways or the street. You don’t want it washing down the storm drain.
Water the lawn immediately after fertilizing. This will wash the fertilizer off the leaves and into the soil, preventing the grass from being burned. You will be able to control the amount of water applied to insure there is no runoff, and so save all the nutrients for your lawn rather than the local stream.
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