Best Time to Fertilize a Lawn – Before or After Rain?

Fertilizing a lawn provides important nutrients that helps grass to grow and flourish faster. It places your turf in great position to withstand pests, weeds and seasonal elements like heat, drought and cold. For grass to reap maximum benefits, you must apply fertilizer at an appropriate time of the day. So, what is the best time to fertilize a lawn? Before or after rain?

The best time to fertilize your lawn is when the weather is calm and cool and most importantly a day or so after rain. At this time, there is no much heat, winds or any pools of water in the lawn. It therefore means, the fertilizer will have enough time to be broken down and absorbed slowly by the grass.

Best Time to Fertilize a Lawn – Before or After Rain?

Rain can affect how your lawn fertilizer is absorbed and utilized by the grass. This why there is need to understand the best time and weather to fertilize a lawn.

You should fertilize your lawn a day or so after a heavy rainfall. At this time, the grass will not be wet, all the pools of water in the lawn will be gone and the soil temperature will be cool. This gives grass a conducive time to breakdown and absorb fertilizer for maximum benefit.

Applying fertilizer to your lawn right after a heavy rain is a bad idea. At that moment, the grass blades are wet, Ground is heavily soaked with water and the nutrients can easily runoff or concentrate only in some areas of the lawn. This will be a waste of time, money and important plant resource.

Alternatively, if you are keen about weather forecast, fertilize your lawn before a gentle rainfall. Applying a fertilizer before a heavy downpour is a waste and a pollution to the environment. Heavy rain and surface runoff is likely to carry away the fertilizer into the nearby water sources before it gets absorbed.

Fertilizing your lawn when grass is not stressed adds to the success of your project. Apart from the rain factor, you should also consider the drought conditions of the lawn. Heat in particular greatly stresses the grass and won’t be in good state to absorb nutrients.

Best Time of the Day to Fertilize a Lawn

The time of the day for applying fertilizer on your lawn doesn’t matter; the weather does. If the temperatures are above 90° Fahrenheit, then you should not fertilize your lawn. At that temperature, the fertilizer will be absorbed very fast into the soil and this will burn your grass.

In hot weather, the fertilizer may also be burned by the heat and by the time it gets into the soil, it will have fewer nutrients and this does not benefit the grass. At the same time, there may be strong winds that may blow away the fertilizer and deposit it into the streams nearby.

The blown fertilizer may also be deposited in some spots in concentrated amounts and this would lead to some bald or brown spots in the lawn. If you are working with granular organic fertilizer, then you should consider applying it in the morning because it must be followed with light watering.

If you did the application in the middle of the day on a hot summer, then the little water you apply would evaporate due to intense heat and strong winds, hence creating a deficiency in your soil. Working with a liquid organic fertilizers in such a weather, would even be worse due to higher rates of evaporation through heat and winds.

What does fertilizer do for grass?

Soil usually contain some nutrients needed by plants but the amount may not be sufficient enough to sustain the growth of grass in the entire season. This is why the need to fertilize your lawn comes in. Here are reasons why lawn fertilizing is important.

  1. It is a way of adding important nutrients into the soil for the benefit of the grass. Lawn fertilizers contain Nitrogen-which encourages leaf growth, Phosphorous – essential for strong root development and Potassium – which prepares the plants for harsh elements like drought, diseases and foot traffic among others.
  2. Fertilizing gives you a green thick lawn quickly. Without providing important nutrients to the grass through fertilizing, it would take you forever to achieve your desired lawn goals. Fertilizer boost growth, makes a lawn greener and makes it thick and fuller within a short period of time.
  3. Fertilizing is part of basic lawn maintenance practices. Lawns need good care for grass to thrive. You have to water adequately, mow, fertilize and control weeds and pests. Without applying a lawn fertilizer, you grass will grow unhealthy and weeds will take over your lawn.

When Should You Fertilize Your Lawn

Knowing when to fertilize your lawn is very important. Apart from making the fertilizer very useful to your grass, timing also helps in preventing lawn problems such as growth of weeds, grass thinning and fertilizer burns among others.

We have seen that fertilizing is very important to growth of a lawn. However, when and how often to fertilize a lawn depends on your grass type, your growing zone and sometimes soil test recommendations. Ideally your lawn will need fertilizer at least twice per season.

For warm season grass, fertilize your lawn when the grass start growing between late spring and summer. You should target only three to four pounds of nitrogen-rich fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year. Ensure your slow or quick release fertilizer is fully absorbed before the start of high temperatures of summer.

The next round of application should be done in in late August or early September once the peak summer heat has passed. This will give your lawn ample time to absorb the fertilizer which will be helpful in preparation for harsh winter ahead.

Cool season grasses actively thrive during spring and fall. Fertilize your lawn heavily in the fall and lightly in early spring. You should only target two pounds of nitrogen-rich slow or fast release fertilizer per 1,000 square feet per year. You may also apply special winter fertilizers to protect your grass during the cold months.

Tip 1: Do not apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer on your lawn when the grass is dormant. This will encourage the growth of weeds. Only fertilize your lawn once the grass has started turning green after winter or summer.

Tip2: Always read the label on fertilizer. This will help you know how long the fertilizer last in the soil so that you can avoid over fertilizing, which could damage your lawn.

Final Thought

Fertilizing a lawn is a very important step that helps the grass blades and roots to establish faster. When to fertilize a lawn matters a lot on how the nutrients will be helpful to the plants. You should fertilize your grass in a cool calm weather preferably one or two days after rain. Be sure to read and understand label instruction before buying and using a lawn fertilizer.


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