I was driving through town last week and saw a gentleman spreading fertilizer in a lawn. I realize we hit temperatures in the 70’s but I’m thinking to myself that it’s way too early to be putting out fertilizer for any of our lawn grasses. After many years as a County Extension Agent I am starting to believe that there is a correlation between my telephone ringing at the office and a couple of warm sunny days. I understand after being cooped up inside after all the cold temperatures and ice that people want to get outside and do something. But really if you think about it, fertilizers feed nutrients to what is growing in your yard to make it healthy and strong. If we think about it the only thing that is actively growing in your lawn right now are weeds. So by fertilizing this early we are helping to make our weeds healthy and strong. Whenever spring really arrives and our grass tries to kick into gear and start growing that grass will have major competition from the late winter and early springs weeds that we have fertilized. A good rule of thumb on when the best time to fertilize your lawn is to wait until after you have had to mow 3 or 4 times. That assures that the grass is actively growing and many of the late winter weeds will be near the end of their life cycle.
All that being said, let’s talk about what the best fertilizer is for your lawn. That is a very common question that I get from people starting this time of the year. Another very common question that I hear is, “Do I need to put lime out? My neighbor did and he told me I should.” My answer to both those questions is the same and that is “I have no idea”. Ok, let me explain that answer just a bit. There isn’t a fertilizer that we can put in our lawns that will automatically know what nutrient amounts to release to allow our grass to grow best. We have no idea if the nutrient levels in your soil are the same as neighbors, friends, or family members. For 16 bucks you can have your soil tested and then we can use those results to give you the best recommendation for your lawn.
The Lincoln Parish Extension office has free soil sample boxes available on the third floor of the Police Jury Complex at 307 N. Homer Street in Ruston. For more information call Gary Stockton, County Agent, in the Lincoln Parish Extension Office at 318/251-5134.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture