Spring appears to be on schedule for most of Maryland as temperatures are slowly creeping up into the 50’s and 60’s for highs. One of the temptations for homeowners is to fertilize the lawn “to get the grass going” in the spring. Keep in mind that “spring green-up” is largely related to soil temperatures and, to some degree, whether fertilizer was applied in the fall. Fertilizing with the goal of getting the grass to “wake up” sooner will have a minimal effect since soil temperature is the main driver for this.
Also, keep in mind that fertilizing in the spring favors more shoot and leaf growth at the expense of root growth. (Fertilizing in the fall tends to favor root growth. Most of the fertilizing for the year should be done in the fall.) Spring fertilization should consist of ~1 lb. nitrogen/1000 sq. ft. total in spring. Using a slow-release fertilizer or splitting applications into two 1/2 lb. rates spaced about one month apart should help to limit excessive growth that could add to the increased mowing frequency often necessary in the spring. Continue reading