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When Should You Fertilize Your Lawn, Chester County, PA?

Fertilize your lawn periodically, following and respecting the growth cycle of your turf. 

Does it seem easy to put like that?

It certainly is! 

So, let’s dig deeper now into the subject.

Most people we meet think spring is the season when you have to boost your turf.

They are right. 

However, beyond spring, it is unclear what to do next in most people’s minds. Most questions we receive are: 

  • Should I focus during springtime only?
  • Do I have to fertilize every month?
  • If we have a hot summer, should I increase the number of fertilization?
  • Should I schedule fertilization for spring and fall only?

The truth is that there are multiple applications for a year. In fact, keep three distinct periods in mind:

  • Easter
  • Labor Day
  • Halloween

In other words, fertilize your lawn mid-spring, late summer, and late fall. 

Here’s why.

The Sacred Rules to Fertilize Your Lawn

If you remember the movie Gremlins from 1984, there were a few rules that the hero was supposed to observe to avoid his little mogwai multiplying into many horrible creatures. 

There are rules for lawns too. 

If you observe them, you will avoid wreaking havoc on your property.

So let’s highlight two simple rules to keep in mind:

  • Avoid fertilizing your lawn when it’s too hot or dry to avoid the spread of diseases.

 

  • Never fertilize on frozen ground to avoid your fertilizer to be washed away by rain or wind. Always fertilize on softer ground.

Some of our clients are astonished to see on our fertilization programs that we will be on their yards late fall. Most of them think that lawn care companies start their hibernation around that time. 

Well, not really.

Why Fertilize Your Lawn Late Fall?

So, why should you fertilize your lawn late fall when nature is winding down before the winter?

The reason is straight forward: 

You set yourself up for success for the following year.

If you’ve done fall aeration and late fall fertilization:

  • You prepare your lawn for a great winter. Your fertilization in late fall will offer the energy needed by the roots of your lawn’s plants. During late fall, plants will store anything they can to pass the winter. Do not think that nothing happens underground during these periods. Fall and winter may look quiet on the surface, but there is activity at the root system level. Just like animals preparing for the winter, your turf does the same thing. So give your lawn what it needs to have the extra energy reserve.
  • You ensure that your lawn will just need a kick start in spring to thrive and not an entire makeover. Ultimately, late-fall fertilization can save you some hard-earned dollars the following year.
fertilize your lawn

What Can You Use to Fertilize Your Lawn?

Let’s start with what you should not do.

Do not apply the same fertilizer on Easter, Labor Day, and Halloween.

Although we will discuss the different types of fertilizer and preparations in a separate blog, remember that your lawn does not need the same stuff all the time. 

The rule here is simple: 

Think about yourself. 

Except for bacon, you do not want to eat the same stuff because you need different nutrients at different times of the day, depending on your activity and condition. 

The same needs apply to your turf.

If your turf needs more instant power, use a fast-release fertilizer. If your lawn is preparing for a long winter, try to use a slow-release fertilizer for your late-fall application. For the latter, it’s usually the one with higher nitrogen content. 

As we are approaching the late-fall season, here’s an additional tip.

Your last fertilizer application is an important one. Therefore, approach it with care and attention. 

The type of fertilizer aside, this last application needs to be evenly spread. If you do not use a lawn care company to apply your late-fall fertilizer, try to rent or invest in professional equipment. 

We use a walk-behind spreader, and for a good reason: They have a flow-rate dealer to release a precise amount of fertilizer per square foot. Hence, you spread the right amount of fertilizer on the lawn area you need to cover. 

We’ve seen too often homeowners take a hand full of granules and throw them on the ground or use a flow-rate dealer but using too much fertilizer. 

Remember that an excess of fertilizer is not good and will be detrimental to your lawn.  

By all means, avoid patches of excess fertilizer in one area of your yard. A good practice is to read the instructions on the fertilizer package before starting. Fertilizer producers always offer the volume of fertilizer to be used per square foot. 

If it is the first time you use a flow-rate dealer, get acquainted with the material first and the way it spreads fertilizer. Before hitting your lawn, try to test on your driveway, and once you are ready, you are good to go on your lawn.

What Have We Learned?

Fertilize your lawn at specific times of the year, and always think about your particular turf needs. 

Depending on the time of the year, you need to vary your fertilizer formulation. Watching weather forecasts is essential. Your soil should not be too hard or weather too hot or dry.

Never miss your late-fall fertilization. If fall is well prepared, you set yourself for success for next spring. Your turf’s plants will need and store energy in the root system. However, it is essential to offer the right fertilizer volume and not spread it over your lawn in excess. 

Stay connected with us if you want to learn more about fertilizer preparation.

How Does Liquid Aeration Work?

Liquid aeration is gaining momentum in the lawn care industry. But, how does it compare to the traditional and well-known core aeration? 

To fight against soil compaction’s harmful effects, lawn aeration is an essential strategy that you should consider implementing in spring and fall to revitalize your lawn. 

Oxygen, water, and nutrients are essential for any form of life to thrive. It’s no different for your lawn. 

Therefore, if you create a healthy environment for your grass to grow, guess what happens?

The plants of your lawn grow stronger and healthier. 

Yep, life on Earth is “that” simple.

That said, you sometimes need to help Mother Nature just a smidge. This is where lawn aeration comes into play.

Why Lawn Aeration?

Folks, we spent more time on our properties this year.

You do not need to be a stud in national statistics to know that.

For many families in Chester County, PA, in 2020, people have spent more time on their properties. 

With the quarantines, social distancing and working remotely from home meant more yard time with the family.

Let’s be honest; there was not much else to do.

Yet, playing ball with the kids, and kids running around playing with the dog is an incredible sight and a fantastic way to build happy memories. 

The only issue in this lovely picture is what happened to your soil.

What happens to your soil, you might ask?

Well, it suffered foot traffic.

Foot traffic! Is that it? Is that why I need lawn aeration?

Actually, not really.

It’s your foot traffic and that ugly thatch layer that was not removed in Spring or for a few years that impact your soil negatively.

The thatch layer is composed of dead layers of grass that can accumulate on your lawn over time.

With soil more compacted than usual, water, nutrients, and air cannot penetrate deep enough. 

If air, water, and nutrients cannot feed the plant, your plant is weaker and more prone to disease and natural aggressions.

What’s Lawn Aeration?

In a nutshell, lawn aeration helps to deal with the above.

In the end, addressing compaction will allow more water and nutrients to reach your soil, where the grassroots will absorb them.

There are two types of lawn aeration: 

Mechanical and liquid. 

Most people are familiar with the mechanical core aeration, where small plugs of dirt are pulled out. These plugs are called “cores,” and they create a small hole of 2 inches deep and ¾ of an inch in diameter in your soil.

After mechanical core aeration, “plugs” or “cores” lay around on the lawn. Although the process works well, it can leave your yard looking messy. 

Many people see the benefit of core aeration, but do not like the sight for the first few weeks after the aeration. It looks like a gang of dogs pooped in your yard. 

With all due respect to centuries of American poetry, there is no better way to describe it.

Also, before running a core aerator on your property, you’d be wise to mark your sprinkler system heads, invisible fences, underground utilities, or cable lines with flags or cones to avoid destroying a costly system.

Typically, a core aerator pushes holes in the ground. So, imagine what that can do to an underground system that costs a fortune?

If you need to get the benefits of lawn aeration but you are unsure if you will like your lawn’s short-term appearance the first few days following your core aeration, you should consider liquid aeration.

What’s Liquid Aeration?

Here’s the difference with your old good mechanical core aeration: 

Liquid aeration does not leave plugs on your yard and offers more even and more in-depth coverage of the area you want to treat. The liquid aerator is sprayed on your turf, and that’s it.

These are the main differentiators.

In essence, liquid aeration offers the same base benefits as core aeration with some attractive advantages:

  • Breaks up the thatch layer.
  • Penetrates clay deeply, which is ideal in Southern PA.
  • Improves water penetration more evenly.
  • Promotes air penetration.
  • Softens soil to allow the plant’s roots to grow better.
  • Improves the absorption of nutrients in a more systematic manner.
  • Can be done anytime during the growing season.
  • Uses bio-degradable materials, safe for kids and pets.
  • Preserves the integrity of all your in-ground systems.

Ultimately, liquid aeration can be more effective than core aeration. 

If you are more a DIY person and you do not plan to contact a lawn care company, a good tip is to pay attention to the ingredients of the products you can find at your nearby retail store.

Always check out the wetting agent, preferably made from a natural organic compound. 

Then, make sure there is food in the ingredient list like enzymes, humates, and bacteria. It is essential for microbial life development that will attack the thatch layer. You may have to buy a separate product to add the missing elements in the formula.

Heck, What Should I Choose? Core or Liquid Aeration?

Your liquid aeration will not have an immediate impact on your lawn like core aeration. So, you will need to be a little more patient.

That said, the choice between core and liquid aeration will depend on the lawn condition. So, you need to do some assessment first.

Is your lawn heavily compacted?

How thick is your thatch layer?

For instance, if you’ve never taken care of the thatch layer of your lawn, and if that layer is over ½ inch thick, you might consider the following strategy:

  • Go for core aeration in spring.
  • Add liquid aeration during the summer season.
  • Finalize the season with core aeration before mid-October.

If you think the above is overkill, then always do core aeration first. The core aeration will help the liquid aeration and fast-forward the process.

What’s Your Choice? Core or Liquid Aeration?

Core or liquid aeration is effective in helping achieve a beautiful lawn. 

Both have advantages, and it sometimes comes to preferences based on the elements we have described. 

Before forming an opinion about the subject, we would recommend anyone to:

  • Assess your lawn condition while specifically focusing on the thatch layer.
  • Determine if “cores” or “plugs” are visual nuisances that you want to avoid, knowing that cores disintegrate naturally after a few weeks.
  • Know that core and liquid aeration can team up and play a beneficial role conjointly. You can have the best of both worlds. 

Have you ever thought about combining core and liquid aerations before?

How to aerate lawns?

Aerate your lawn if you need to set yourself up for success in 2021, Chester County!

If you want a beautiful lawn in 2021, then aerate your lawn. 

It’s that simple.

Many homeowners never aerate their lawns and live happily ever after. 

Many do not even know what lawn aeration is. 

Yet, it is the best way to ensure the long-term health of your lawn and prolific growth.

But, let’s face it.

It’s not a fun process if you are not used to it. So, why the heck should you spend time to aerate your lawn?

If you are not clear why you should aerate your lawn and are still debating because the process is a pain, consider the following points.

Lawn Aerations Have Multiple Benefits

If you aerate lawns periodically, you will notice tremendous improvements over time. 

So, yes indeed, there are different factors that lawn aerations combine that help get a greener and thicker, healthy-looking turf.

What do lawn aerations do to your lawn?

There is no better way to reduce soil compaction. 

When you reduce compaction, it improves the penetration of water and air through the soil close to the root system to increase the grass plant’s vitality and strength.

It also makes watering and seeding more effective, which is an excellent way to reduce your bills.

Ultimately, your lawn is more resilient to heat, drought, and cold.

So, let’s check how to aerate lawns.

First Things first, Protect Your Watering System

If you proceed to core aeration, you need to pay attention to where you are going to punch holes. 

Otherwise, you will destroy your sprinklers or water line if they are not deep enough.

If you have sprinkler heads scattered around that you cannot remove, try to place a little flag or cone next to each sprinkler head. You will avoid costly mistakes.

Of course, you will not have this problem if you opt for liquid aeration.

We covered the difference between core and liquid aerations in a previous article. If you need to learn more about that subject, read our article Lawn Aeration: Wake Up Your Lawn, Chester County!

Don’t Aerate Your Lawn During the Heat of The Summer

When should you aerate your lawn? 

The short answer is spring and fall. 

If you decide not to go through this process twice a year and miss spring, shoot for the end of August up to late fall.

The biggest mistake is to aerate your lawn during the summer’s hottest days.

Although it is excellent for your lawn wellness, the aeration process is stressful – not in a detrimental way, but mechanical or chemical processes are involved. 

Therefore, avoid catching up with aerations during the peak of summer. That said, they are beneficial before major growth seasons or to prepare for the colder winter season. 

Besides, if you thought it is too late to aerate your lawn, a core or liquid aeration performed between the end of August and late fall is essential to prevent damage from freezes or snow.

Always Use The Best of The Best

We are not referring to us here. Although…

We refer to tools, machines, and products.

Like anything else in this world, quality is critical, and spending some time to do your due diligence about which tools, machines, or products – in the case of liquid aeration – is the secret of qualitative lawn aeration.

Visit your favorite retail shop, spend some time talking to professionals, ask questions, and gain helpful insights.

If your budget allows you to buy a machine, go for a professional aerator. 

Manual aeration of a broad surface is overwhelming labor. If you value your sanity and want to preserve your lower back, reduce the manual labor, and stay away from any cheap tools.

Now, a professional core aerator can be expensive. Therefore, try to rent the equipment if you are only going to aerate once or twice per year.

Alternatively, investigate liquid aeration. 

Depending on your budget, liquid aeration might be a wise choice. 

Although liquid aerators are not all made equal, you will need to learn a bit about science. Not to worry, we will cover this topic in another article soon. So, if you are interested to learn more about it, stay tuned.

Check Out the Weather Forecast

Weather should be considered before deciding on the day you need to aerate your lawn. 

Remember that the soil should not be too hard or too soft, especially if you plan to do core aeration.

You should not aerate your lawn if your soil is ultra-dry, or if the area where you live was flooded the day before. 

Again, adjusting your aeration schedule with feel and finesse is the difference between a process that runs smoothly and a nightmare.

Therefore, check the weather forecast regularly once you approach the aeration’s date, knowing that you might need to change that schedule at the last minute.

And Finally!

Even if no one ever had fun during lawn aerations, they are the central piece of your lawn wellness strategy. 

Aerations strengthen your lawn by bringing the nutrients and air to the roots. Therefore, they should be performed before the growing season starts.

If you plan to do aeration yourself, either buy or rent professional equipment. Usually, tools used for manual aerations should be reserved for very small surfaces only. 

If the big bulk of the market considers core aeration, liquid aerations have come a long way and have proven to be more efficient than core ones. 

In the professional world, liquid aerations start to intrigue and convert more and more lawn care businesses trying to deliver a differentiated approach to lawn care.

Liquid aeration is best used when a lawn is already healthy and there is no need for seeding. The product works very well and improves the soil, essentially aerating on a microscopic level. After treatment, we have noted a visible color increase in the lawn, due to the chelating effect of the liquid aeration. 

So, it’s time to aerate lawns, Chester County!