Monday, May 9, 2011


With the night time temperatures staying in the cool range (as low as the high 40’s last week), some of the grass has been coming out of dormancy spotty and slowly. This week’s night time temperatures should be at least 68 degrees. The warmer temperatures should warm up the soil and get your grass to “green up” the rest of the way.

If you have not fertilized your grass, now would be a good time. Generally speaking look for a product that is at least 50% slow release. Depending on the rates you use, soil test information and how frequently you want to push the spreader across the yard, would help determine your best fertilizer options.

I work with some professionals that like to fertilize lightly and every ten days, and others that fertilize every 6 weeks with more of a slower release type fertilizer. Both methods are good as long as the grass’s needs are met.

Remember organic options for fertilizing your yard. Organics build the soil structure, help develop a favorable environment for beneficial microorganisms, do not leach, are slowly released through microbial activity and aid in root growth making the plant (grass in this case) more drought resistant. Traditional fertilizers do not offer all these benefits.

Hopefully, you have fertilized your shrubs and trees by now. They have been putting on new growth for some time. If you look at your trees and shrubs, you might see 12 inches of new growth at the end of a branch. Trees and shrubs have already grown the majority of what they will grow this year and it is only the beginning of May!

I hear two statements all the time, “I don’t want to fertilize my shrubs because then I will have to prune them,” and “no one feeds the trees in the woods and they do fine.” Shrubs need fertilizer (food) to grow, fight off disease, and fight off insects. No one stops feeding their kids because they are tired of buying new clothes and shoes (and a light bulb comes on in my head about my 5’ 10” daughter that is only 14 – just kidding).

Your trees have competition with your lawn. The leaves and limbs get picked up before they can return as nutrients to the soil. Critters are in the forest. Does your yard have critters? Basically your landscape is not a forest. Please, fertilize your trees. Trees generally live longer than people, so take care of them so the next person can enjoy them as well.

When fertilizing, try to get the product off of hard surfaces that may stain before “watering in”. By cleaning off the hard surfaces, less fertilizer should end up in our storm water system and in our marshes and tidal creeks. There are parts of the US that do not allow homeowners to fertilize as they wish. Let’s fertilize responsibly, so the government does not have to step in.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.