Are you the kind of person who can’t function without a cup of coffee in the morning?
Then you can understand what it’s like for your grass in the spring.
It just needs that extra boost to wake up and look its best.
The right fertilizer, used at the right time, can provide that boost.
But it’s not always clear exactly when to fertilize the lawn for best results. Especially with the volatile temperatures we’ve had in Gainesville this season.
So we reached out to the experts at McCall Service, a residential and commercial lawn treatment and pest control service for northern Florida and Georgia.
They walked us through when to fertilize the lawn in Gainesville during the spring, and how to do it right.
Q&A with Guest Expert Kevin Smith of McCall Service: When to Fertilize the Lawn in Spring
When is the best time to fertilize a lawn in this region?
The short answer: right now. Late March and early April are the best times.
This is the sweet spot, when the frosts have ended and the summer growing season is about to kick in.
If you did it earlier, it would be too soon. You’d be forcing the grass to grow when it doesn’t want to, since it goes dormant for the winter. That will stress the grass out.
Plus, this is actually the first month that you can start fertilizing again due to Alachua County restrictions. There’s a winter ban on certain types of fertilizers from December to February.
What type of fertilizer do you recommend for spring treatment?
What I would always want people to look for is a granular slow-release fertilizer. That’s best to start getting down in March and April. You can then move to liquid fertilizers for spot treatments later in the season.
A granular slow release gives you a nice amount of nutrients to get that lush grass canopy growing. It’ll release about 40% of its nutrients right away.
Then the remaining 60% get released over a longer period of time so that the grass is able to keep absorbing it. Otherwise it would just oversaturate your lawn and runoff into our waterways.
Spring is also a big time for pests to arrive in St. Augustine grass, which most people have in this area. How should people prepare for that in regards to fertilization?
At McCall Service, we put down a preventative pesticide before fertilizing the grass. If you don’t use the pesticide, you’re just making a nice buffet for the bugs and nothing to stop them from eating it.
Right now, we’re just on the edge of chinch bug season. They’re the ones that you especially want to treat preemptively, because you don’t always see the damage they do to your lawn right away. If you wait until you start seeing damage, it’ll be too late.
We use a granular and a liquid application to prevent these bugs. We try to rotate our pesticides to prevent the bugs from building up a resistance.
What other factors should people keep in mind when fertilizing their lawns this season?
One thing that’s very important to us is mowing that doesn’t scalp the lawn.
That’s why we’re happy to know Tom and Sun Power Lawn Care–his mowing style is really good for the lawns we treat. Sun Power Lawn Care cuts the lawn at the right height, has sharp blades, and uses lightweight electric mowers.
This prevents the lawn from getting stressed out, which means that any fertilizer and pesticide treatments will work their best.