When To Fertilize Your Lawn In Utah

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Beautiful lawn in Sandy cared for by Holmes
Holmes fertilizing a lawn in Sandy.

Maintaining a healthy lawn in Utah can be a challenge. The state's unique climate and geography create specific challenges for lawn care. In order to keep your lawn looking its best, it is important to fertilize at the right time of year, but there are factors beyond season and climate to consider when determining the best time to fertilize your Utah lawn.

This article will detail when to fertilize your lawn in Utah and provide some tips on how to achieve the best results.

Why Fertilizers Matter

Before we discuss when to fertilize your lawn, it is important to understand why lawns need to be fertilized in the first place. Like all plants and living things, grass needs to consume nutrients in order to grow to its full potential. Unfortunately, the nutrients contained within the soil of your lawn often gets displaced very easily by inclement weather or other factors, and that is where fertilizers come in!

Fertilizers contain the same nutrients that are in the soil, and applying them strategically throughout the year is the best way to ensure that your lawn gets all the nutrition it needs. There are many micronutrients in fertilizers to help improve soil quality and the health of your grass, but the big 3 macronutrients all lawns need are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

chemicals and nutrients for the soil
Major and minor nutrients found in fertilizers.
  1. Nitrogen is important for the growth of leaves, and helps your lawn to achieve that deep green color everyone loves.
  2. Phosphorus is crucial for root development, which makes it an important part of any early season fertilizer application.
  3. Potassium is another important nutrient for grass health, as it helps the plant to better withstand drought and disease.

Applying adequate amounts of these nutrients via fertilization treatments is crucial to the continued improvement of your lawn. As the effects of fertilizers set in, you will start to notice greener and more plentiful grass that is deeply rooted to the soil, which means fewer bare spots and damage from pests, disease, weeds, and more. Now, to make sure you maximize the benefits of fertilizer treatments, let's take a look at when you should fertilize!

The Best Time To Fertilize Your Lawn In Utah

The best time to fertilize your lawn in Utah will vary depending on what type of grass you have. The most common types of grass in Utah are cool-season grasses, which include Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass. Of course, warm-season lawns are common throughout the hotter southern parts of the state. Weather your lawn features cool- or warm-season grass, fertilizing can not take place at the wrong time of year, otherwise your grass will struggle to grow outside of its natural growing season.

Cool-Season Lawns

identifying Kentucky Bluegrass
Kentucky bluegrass is the most popular grass type in Utah.

If you have a cool-season grass, the best time to apply fertilizer is in fall. This is because these grasses grow best when the temperatures start to cool down, so applying fertilizer in fall ensures that your lawn has all the nutrients it needs for a healthy growing season. It is important not to fertilize too late in the year, however, as this can encourage new growth that will be damaged by winter weather. The ideal time to apply fertilizer to a cool-season grass is in September or October.

Cool-season grasses could also receive fertilization treatments in early spring, but this is not always necessary if fertilizing is done properly in fall. However, if your lawn starts to look thin or yellow in color, applying a fertilizer treatment in early spring can help it to green up and fill in any bare spots. Just be sure not to fertilize too late into spring, as the warmer temperatures are not conducive to cool-season turf growth.

Warm-Season Lawns

identifying bermudagrass
Bermudagrass is a popular warm-season type in Utah.

For warm-season grasses, which include Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass, the best time to apply fertilizer is in spring. These grasses begin growing when temperatures start to rise, so applying fertilizer in the spring will give them a boost of nutrients that they need for a healthy growing season. It is important not to fertilize too early in the year because temperatures need to rise before warm-season lawns thrive. The ideal time to apply fertilizer to a warm-season grass is in April or May.

Early summer is still an acceptable time to fertilize a warm-season turf, but you need to be careful to make sure it is not too hot. Warm-season grass performs best at temperatures between 80 degrees and 95 degrees, so it is best to fertilize before summer gets into full swing and temperatures are too hot.

Fertilizing By Season

Now that we have covered the optimal time to fertilize different types of lawns, let's talk about what can be done throughout the entire year to make sure your lawn stays well-fed!

While the aforementioned timeframes are the most important times to fertilize your lawn, fertilization treatments can and should be performed at different stages throughout the entire year for continued turf health. By controlling the types and amount of fertilizers used at strategic times in the growing season, you can make sure your lawn stays green and lush for a long time!

  • Early Spring - Lawns should receive a light fertilization treatment that is not too heavy in nitrogen. Nitrogen promotes quick growth, but lawns that have been dormant all winter will need time to get established before they can tolerate a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer.
  • Late Spring - After your lawn is a bit more established and hardy, a high concentration of nitrogen (as well as other nutrients) will help fill in any remaining bare spots and give your turf a boost of color.
  • Summer - A light application of fertilizer is best in the heat of summer. Grass won't grow if it is too hot, so fertilizing too much will do nothing but harm your lawn.
Tree in the middle between summer and winter
All four seasons play a role in Utah lawn care.
  • Early Fall - As fall rolls around, it is time to start thinking about preserving your lawn for the future seasons. Fertilizing in fall, especially when done in conjunction with aeration you can make your turf more healthy and resilient to take on the cold months ahead.
  • Late Fall - A winterizing fertilizer will help your lawn during its dormant months. Winterizing fertilizers help defend your lawn from damage caused by harsh temperatures and snow. Without this application, your lawn may wake up in the following spring with thin and bare patches.
  • Winter - Consider lawn fertilization services during winter. A professional fertilization service will have products and plans available to help preserve your lawn's health over winter. Call Holmes Lawn & Pest at (801) 616-5296 for more information on winterizing treatments.

Remember that there are signs to look for besides the changing of the seasons when determining if it is time to fertilize. For example, if your lawn is starting to look yellow or pale, this could be a sign that it is not getting enough nutrients. If you notice that your grass is not growing as quickly as normal, or if patches of weak or dying grass start to develop, this could also indicate a need for more fertilizer. By paying attention to the health of your turf and fertilizing accordingly, you can ensure a green and healthy lawn all year long!

When Not To Fertilize Your Lawn

Large Puddle Formed On A Lawn
Compaction and drainage issues should be addressed before fertilizing.

Finally, it is important to know when NOT to fertilize. Applying fertilizer at the wrong time of year or during extreme weather conditions can be detrimental (and even fatal) to your turf, as we have discussed. The quality of soil in your yard makes all the difference in whether or not fertilization treatments are successful. Fertilizers will improve soil quality, but certain conditions have to be present for fertilizers to even be absorbed into the soil.

Some general rules of thumb are to avoid fertilizing if the following conditions exist:

-The ground is frozen solid.

-There has been a recent rainfall or irrigation, and the soil is still moist.

-The grass is under stress from heat, drought, or disease.

-Before aeration (fertilizing should take place AFTER aeration).

-You have put grass seed down within the last week.

-Your lawn has not yet established itself/reached optimal height.

If you are unsure about whether or not it is a good time to fertilize your lawn, it is always best to err on the side of caution and wait for better conditions. A professional lawn care company will be able to help you determine the best time to fertilize based on the current state of your turf.

Feed Your Lawn Today!

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Holmes Lawn & Pest in Utah.

From all of us here at Holmes Lawn & Pest, thank you for reading this article! We hope it helps you understand why and when you should be fertilizing your Utah lawn. Be sure to give us a call for more information on fertilizing, as well as the aftercare, and we will help you have the lawn you have always wanted!

We hope you enjoyed this article. As a quick reminder, when fertilizing your lawn be sure to clean up any fertilizer left on cement surrounding your lawn. To learn more check out our quick video going over this topic.

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