Are you looking for helpful information about fertilizing your cool-season lawn? You've come to the right place! Whether you want to establish or maintain a lush, healthy lawn, or want advice on selecting and planting the best types of grass for your climate zone, this blog post has it all covered. From tips on selecting the cool-season grasses that are best suited for your region, through maintenance advice, and even a few problem solving strategies when things go wrong - we have it all here in one easy-to-reference guide. So without further ado...let's get started!
The United States is divided up into 3 main climate zones when it comes to warm-season and cool-season grasses. These 3 zones are the cool-season, warm-season, and transition zones.
The northern part of the United States is a great place for cool-season grass types to thrive. If you live in these states, you are setting up your cool-season grass for success. Grass types that do well here include: Kentucky bluegrass, annual ryegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and fine fescue.
The transition zone is the area where neither cool- nor warm-season grasses are well adapted. Summers tend to be too hot for cool-season turfgrass, while winters are too cold for warm-season grasses to survive. The transition zone region ranges from the coastal states of Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, to Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, far eastern Oklahoma, and Kansas. Many people here grow tall fescue because of its heat tolerance, or zoysiagrass because of its cold tolerance.
The warm-season zone is a great host to our warm-season grass types that include: St. Augustinegrass, bermudagrass, centipedegrass, and zoysiagrass.
What grass types grow best in each state?
However, within these regions, there will be certain grass types that grow better than others.
Zone 1 (Northeast and Midwest): Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, zoysiagrass, bermudagrass
Zone 2 (Transition Zone): tall fescue, zoysiagrass, bermudagrass, Kentucky bluegrass, overseeded annual ryegrass, overseeded perennial ryegrass
Zone 3 (Southeast): tall fescue, bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, overseeded perennial ryegrass, overseeded annual ryegrass
Zone 4 (Coastal Southeast): bahiagrass, bermudagrass, centipedegrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, overseeded annual ryegrass, overseeded perennial ryegrass
Zone 5 (Mountain West): Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, buffalograss, bermudagrass
Zone 6 (Southwest): buffalograss, bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, overseeded annual ryegrass, overseeded perennial ryegrass
Zone 7 (Pacific Northwest): Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, zoysiagrass, bermudagrass, poa supina
Cool-season Fertilizer Plan
Cool-season and warm-season grasses will have different fertilizer needs at different times of the year. Below is our recommended fertilizer plan for your cool-season grass.
Your cool-season lawn will most likely start actively growing in March or April. During the early spring, the lawn is nearing its active growing season, which is a great time fertilize.
Lawn Food should be applied no more than once every month during the active growing season. Be sure to water your lawn with 1-2 inches of water per week. Since the lawn is in its active growing period, a higher nitrogen lawn fertilizer will be best in most cases, but can vary depending on your soil test. It is highly recommended to obtain a soil test once per year.
By June, your cool-season lawn should be fully thriving. When July hits, your lawn may struggle due to warmer temperatures during the summer, especially if you have Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, or fine fescues. You may see your lawn begin to brown out which means that the lawn is going dormant. When this happens, hold off on applying any fertilizers as this will not help your lawn. The lawn will go dormant to protect itself from extreme heat or drought. Make sure to water your lawn deeply and infrequently, so that your lawn gets about 1-2 inches of water per week. Once the weather cools off and as long as your lawn is getting enough water, you will see your lawn begn to green back up, and during this time you can apply 0-0-25 High Potassium Lawn Food to help recovery.
During this time you can apply our 16-4-8 Lawn Food, 15-0-15 Phosphorus Free Lawn Food, and/or our 28-0-0 High Nitrogen Lawn Food, depending on your grass needs and your soil test. It is not recommended to apply a high phosphorus product unless you are establishing a new lawn or have a deficiency. Some states have phosphorus bans, so be sure to look into your local state and county regulations.
The Whole Growing Season: Micronutrients and Lawn Boosters
To supplement lawn foods during the entire active growing season (March through October), you can apply lawn boosters such as Lawn Energizer, Growth Booster, Darker Green, and Micro Booster any time during the active growing season. Growth Booster is best if you are seeding or establishing a new lawn or if your lawn is deficient in phosphorus, as indicated by a soil test.
The Whole Growing Season: Organic Soil Food and Soil Treatments
We offer some amazing organic soil treatments that make a great supplement to your fertilizer program. Our Seaweed Soil Hume, Sea Hume, and Root Hume contain humic acid and seaweed, and are recommended for seeding/establishing a new lawn, promoting micronutrient uptake, and supplementing your lawn to help withstand stressful conditions. These products can be applied once per month or as needed.
Our Liquid Soil Loosener is a great product to use on mature grass to help with infiltrationof water and other liquids. Soil Loosener should be applied to a mature lawn, and is not recommended to be applied to new seedlings. If applying Soil Loosener before seeding, apply 4 weeks prior to laying seeds. Soil Loosener should only be applied once every 4-8 weeks and no more than 2 times per year.
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Note: This guide is to serve as a general lawn guide for cool-season grasses. Individual results and needs will vary depending on location, grass type, weather, soil quality, and other factors. Applying fertilizers to a lawn that is suffering from pests, disease, or droughts will not yield positive results, and these issues should be dealt with prior to applying nutrients. Depending on your location (city, county, state), you may be subject to specific guidelines according to local regulations of the use of fertilizers. It is your responsibility to check with your local agriculture extension to make sure you are following rules and regulations, despite the recommendations made in this guide.