Grass, like all other plants, requires nutrients for growth. Unfortunately, most soils in Georgia are naturally not rich in these nutrients. So, fertilizers must be applied to supply those elements not present in the native soil.
As you consider fertilizing your lawn, you must first determine whether you have a warm season or cool season grass. Warm season grasses are dormant and brown in color throughout the winter months. Some examples of warm season grasses are Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia. A typical fertilizer program for a warm season grass would be 10 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet when green-up begins, 10 more pounds in mid-summer and again six to eight weeks before the first frost date.
Cool season grasses, on the other hand, stay green year-round. Fescue is the most common cool season lawn grass, and it is also the most common grass used in local lawns. Cool season grass fertilizer programs vary some from that of the warm season grasses. An example of a cool season fertilizer program would be 10 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet in the spring and again in the fall.
Of course, both of these fertilizer programs are estimates of the plant’s nutrient needs without knowing the nutrient levels currently in the soil. The only other option would be to test your soil. You can have soil tested for your lawn through any county extension office for $8 per sample. The results will give you the exact amounts of fertilizer, type of fertilizer, application time and lime recommendation, if needed.
Call the Walker County Extension Office at 638-2548 with any question you have about fertilizing your lawn.
Norman Edwards is coordinator of Walker County Extension Service.