The Ultimate Guide to Achieving a Luscious Green Lawn

Who doesn’t dream of a lush, vibrant lawn where you can kick off your shoes and enjoy the warm summer sun? Well, achieving that dream requires a little bit of know-how when it comes to fertilizing your lawn. In my 20 years of experience, I’ve realized that the key to success lies in having a plan. So, let me share with you the basics of fertilizing your lawn, and soon you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood!

Understanding Lawn Fertilizer

Let’s start with those three mysterious numbers you see on fertilizer bags. These numbers represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium in that order. They are the primary nutrients that your lawn needs to thrive. Different brands offer varying amounts of these nutrients, so make sure to choose one that suits your lawn’s specific needs. Additionally, most commercially available fertilizers also contain essential micro-nutrients tailored for specific grass types, such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass.

While we all want to be environmentally responsible, it’s crucial to use fertilizers responsibly as well. Before applying any type of fertilizer, it’s important to educate yourself on how and when to apply the right amount for optimal growth. The information I’m about to share can be applied to any type of fertilizer you choose, whether organic or not. Let’s dive into the responsible application of lawn fertilizer.

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Applying Fertilizer to Your Lawn

Choosing Your Spreader

When it comes to spreading fertilizer, you have two options: broadcast spreaders and drop spreaders. Broadcast spreaders are the easier choice, as they cover a wider area with each pass, saving you time and effort. They are also more cost-effective than drop spreaders. However, if you need more precision, especially near sensitive plants or areas, a drop spreader might be the better option. Just remember to make criss-cross passes to ensure even distribution.

Setting the Spreader

Now, let’s talk about setting the spreader. While the fertilizer label provides an application rate, I recommend cutting it in half. This ensures that you apply the fertilizer at a slightly lower rate, in a criss-cross pattern. Start by covering the perimeter of your yard, then fill in the middle. This technique guarantees better coverage and prevents any unsightly yellow spots.

Timing Your Fertilizer Application

The number of fertilizer applications you’ll need depends on several factors, including your budget and desired lawn quality. For a minimal approach, one application in the spring and one in the fall will suffice. However, if you want a lush and vibrant lawn, aim for 5 to 6 applications from early spring to late fall, spaced 4-8 weeks apart.

Let’s break it down:

Early Spring Application – Fertilizer with Crabgrass Preventer

Make this application when your grass starts to green up and the lilacs and forsythia shrubs begin to bloom. Choose a product that provides nutrients and controls crabgrass and other spring weeds.

Late Spring Application – Weed ‘n Feed

Apply this 4-6 weeks after the early spring application. Since spring growth tends to be rapid, your grass will need the nutrients provided by a granular weed ‘n feed fertilizer. Apply it when the grass is wet, either early in the morning or after rain.

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Early Summer Application – Fertilizer with Insect/Grub Control

Before the scorching summer arrives, nourish your lawn with a fertilizer blend that includes insect and grub control. Apply it 6-8 weeks after the weed ‘n feed application to protect your grass from damage.

Summer Application (Zone 6 and North)

In northern regions, you might not need to make a summer application. However, if you do, choose a granular blend with 18% nitrogen or more, preferably an extended-release formulation.

Early Fall Application

This application is crucial for preparing your lawn for the upcoming winter. Choose a fertilizer with higher amounts of potassium to enhance your lawn’s resilience. If you’re battling broadleaf weeds, you can address them during this application as well.

Late Fall Application

Finally, make this application a week or two before your last planned mowing. Opt for a product with a 3 to 1 ratio of nitrogen to potassium. This will ensure that your lawn is well-prepared for winter and will green up quickly come spring.

Lawn Fertilizing Do’s and Don’ts

To wrap things up, let’s go over a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when fertilizing your lawn:


  • Use high-quality blends.
  • Choose extended-release fertilizers for long-lasting results.
  • Follow all manufacturer labels and directions.
  • Stick to your fertilizing schedule for optimal growth.
  • Opt for fertilizer with iron for added benefits.
  • Sweep any excess fertilizer from hard surfaces after application.


  • Over-fertilize your lawn, as it can do more harm than good.
  • Fill your spreader on the grass, as spilled fertilizer can cause damage.
  • Forget to water your lawn after applying the fertilizer.
  • Spread fertilizer on a windy day to avoid potential uneven distribution.
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Now that you have the ultimate guide to achieving a luscious green lawn, it’s time to put your knowledge into action. Remember, these recommendations work with any type of fertilizer you choose. So, get ready to impress your neighbors with your expert lawn fertilizer skills!

Ames Farm Center is a great resource for all your lawn care needs. Check them out today for top-quality products and expert advice!

Note: The images used in this article are from Hoosier Homemade for illustrative purposes only.