Contrary to popular practice, spring is not the time to fertilize your lawn.
If you fertilize in early spring, the blades will grow at the expense of the roots developing. This can lead to disease and insect problems later in the season. In addition, you will have to mow the lawn more frequently.
Fall is the best time to fertilize, when the roots that will sustain the plants through the following summer are actively growing. Even if you missed fall fertilization, you should limit spring fertilization to a light feeding (.5 lbs. of 10-10-10 per 1000 sq. ft.) after the initial flush of growth has subsided in May or early June.
Lime, on the other hand, should be applied in early spring if soil tests show it is necessary. Most lawn grasses grow best at a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Look at the recommendations in your soil test report to see how much lime to apply. Then spread lime instead of fertilizer.
When your lawn requires its first cutting, do not cut it too short. Mow to about two inches during the spring and then raise the cutting height another half inch or more when summer’s heat arrives. Mow frequently so that you remove no more than one third of the grass blade at one time.
For more information about lawn care, contact the Fairfax County office of Virginia Cooperative Extension at 703-324-8556, TTY 711.