As we’ve had a few warm days now we’re starting to get a lot of questions about spring fertilizer. Every year we have customers who want us on site the day after the snow melts away so their lawn gets a good start. This is a misconception. Fertilizing your lawn now is equivalent to putting a plate of food in front of a coma patient. It may be delicious, but there is no way they can eat it, and when they do wake up the food will be rotten or stolen by mice. The principle nutrient in most spring fertilizers is Nitrogen. Nitrogen can come in many forms and some of them will stay in place in the soil and work at cool temperatures. The forms used in turf fertilization will not. They are very volatile in the surface and will rapidly leach down into the soil or even evaporate without enough water. We need to look to nature to determine when we should be fertilizing. One common rule of thumb is when the Maple trees leaf out. I like to get through the first mowing of the year.
The key principle is to feed your lawn when it is eating. If the plant is dormant from either the winter or drought conditions, then it’s not eating. A quick early jump in the spring has more to do with proper fertilization in the fall so the plant was able to store nutrients in the root system over winter. Fertilizing too early in the spring will likely allow the nutrients to leach too deep into the soil and likely be a waste of money and energy.