With the last winter snow still lingering on the ground and/or surrounding mountain tops it can be hard to think about prepping for a gorgeously green lawn, but backyard barbecues, game nights and relaxing days spent enjoying your grass are just around the corner.
Winter is a stressful time for your yard. The limited sunlight and sub-freezing temperatures require grass to rely on energy reserves that will need to be replenished in the coming months. As temperatures slowly rise and your lawn begins to rebound, it will need a little help from you to achieve luscious levels.
IFA’s 4Plus Lawn Care Program is specially formulated in the intermountain west to provide the best results for the region’s semiarid climate and soil making it a great way to give back to your rebounding lawn. As step one in the four-part fertilizer program, IFA Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food will provide the nutrient boost and protection that your lawn needs for a head-start this spring.
An Essential Early Spring Fertilizer
Why take the first step? IFA Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food provides your lawn with a carefully formulated mixture of nitrogen, iron, phosphorus and pre-emergent herbicide that work together to promote a healthier lawn and an earlier spring green-up.
Feed: Nitrogen and Iron
To replace the energy lost during the winter months, grass will need to rely on chlorophyll and leaf production to allow for greater sunlight intake and conversion.
Nitrogen aids this process by promoting leaf production while the non-staining iron assists in the development of green chlorophyll. This ultimately helps your lawn thrive while promoting a deeper green appearance.
Strengthen: Phosphorus and Potassium Boost
Phosphorus promotes strong root production to help the grass gather nutrients and water from the soil, and establish a strong foundation for the plant.
Adding potassium to your lawn helps it resist drought and disease in the coming months.
Want to know more about what the three numbers on your fertilizer bag mean?
Protect: Pre-emergent Herbicide
The pre-emergent herbicide in IFA’s Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food prevents early problem plants such as crabgrass, spurge and other grassy weeds from invading your lawn.
Not only do these unwanted guests detract from the beauty of your yard, but they also steal vital nutrients, root/soil space and other resources from your rebounding turf.
When to Apply The First Step
Throughout most of the intermountain west, it is ideal to apply Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food annually between March and mid-April.
But areas with an earlier warm-up such as St. George and southern Utah should consider applying in late January to mid-February before pre-emergent weeds have time to germinate.
How to Apply Spring Fertilizer
Get Ready to Fertilize
Before applying you must prepare. Start by determining the square footage of your yard then divide that number by 200 to get the number of pounds of Step 1 fertilizer you need for your lawn.
yard width (ft) × yard length (ft) ÷ 200 = lb of Step 1
Keep in mind a 25 lb bag will feed up to 5,000 square feet while the 50 lb bag feeds up to 10,000 square feet. It’s a good idea to add 10% to make sure you don’t run out during application.
We strongly recommend using a broadcast spreader for a more even fertilizer distribution with a much lower risk of nitrogen burn due to over-application. If you don’t already have a broadcast spreader, your local IFA Country Store has several spreader options for you to choose from when you pick up your Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food fertilizer.
3 Steps to Correctly Apply Fertilizer
Once you have the lawn food, spreader and other tools, it's time to start applying.
1. Set your spreader to the proper rate
Adjust your broadcast spreader to the correct setting to ensure the correct rate of application. There are many spreaders on the market, so be sure to adhere to specific guidelines for your specific make and model.
Recommended Spreader Settings
- Earthway Drop: 18½
- Earthway Broadcast 18½
- IFA Broadcast: 18½
- Chapin All Season Broadcast: 20
- Scotts Elite: 7
- Scotts Classic Drop: 8
- Scotts EdgeGuard DLX: 8
- Scotts Edgeguard Mini: 8
2. Apply uniformly to dry (non-wet) lawn
As a general rule, open your spreader to one-fourth inch and walk normally. Keep in mind, if you walk faster, you will want to open the spreader a little more to compensate for your stride. 3-mph is a good walking pace for fertilizer application.
Be sure to overlap your walking paths to achieve uniform application and to avoid lines.
3. Water the lawn thoroughly soon after application
To best ensure the pre-emergent and fertilizer nutrients are absorbed by your grass, you will want to thoroughly water the lawn (at least 1/2 inch) shortly after applying. This helps the nutrients travel through the soil to be absorbed by the roots.
Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food fertilizer should only be applied once. 4–6 weeks after applying step one, your lawn will be ready for step two: IFA Weed and Feed.
Up Your Lawn Game With Bountiful Earth Humate
For a little extra lawn love, consider adding Bountiful Earth Humate to maximize the benefits of your early-spring lawn fertilizer.
Bountiful Earth Humate conditions your soil to provide better nutrient access and absorption, as well as improving its water filtration and holding capacity.
The mixture contains large humin molecules that work to open up the soil structure for increased water-holding capacity and nutrient retention. In addition, medium-sized humic acids promote nutrient availability, while smaller fulvic acids readily bond with nutrients for easy transportation to the plant’s roots.
Adding our locally sourced Humate when you apply Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food and when you apply step-4 Fall & Winter Fertilizer, will elevate your lawn care program and visibly improve your yard's health and overall appearance.
Bountiful Earth Humate is good for more than just grass. If your landscape includes trees, shrubs, flowers or a garden, this soil conditioner will promote strong-healthy growth, beautiful blooms and plentiful harvests.
Additional Springtime Lawn Care Considerations
If you notice any unwanted patches or bare spots on your lawn you can easily correct this by overseeding In late fall or spring depending on the seed variety. When overseeding you will introduce new grass that will need time to germinate and grow into a healthy plant.
You should avoid applying any weed-killers to your lawn during this germination period including IFA Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food fertilizer as the pre-emergent herbicide will prevent any new grass seed from growing.
As an alternative consider applying IFA Lawn & Pasture Lawn Food, IFA Premium Garden Fertilizer or IFA Grand Champion All-Purpose Fertilizer to ensure your established grass still has access to the nutrients it needs to bounce back while allowing the new seeds to germinate and receive the phosphorus boost needed to establish strong and healthy roots.
After the new grass has taken hold you can safely use the Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food as your step one spring fertilizer the following year.
Aeration is another good springtime practice for your lawn. Grass relies on the absorption of water and other essential nutrients through its root system, but over time the soil that your grass calls home can become compacted. This compaction blocks or restricts the small air pockets that water and nutrients travel through, ultimately limiting the plants’ resources and causing harm to your yard.
When aerating your lawn the soil will become less dense and once again allow for this water filtration and easier nutrient absorption by your grass. Opening the soil will also help your lawn make the most of your fertilizer program as it is better able to utilize the energy and nutrient boosts provided by the four-plus fertilizers throughout the year.
Let Us Help
The health and beauty of your lawn is just as important to us as it is to you. Just grab any IFA team member the next time you’re walking down the fertilizer aisle at your local IFA Country Store and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can.
See Step #2 in IFA's Fertilizer Program
IFA Lawn & Pasture Fertilizer
Are you looking to green up your home lawn and pasture? The IFA Lawn & Pasture Fertilizer is an alternate option to our Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food. This high nitrogen fertilizer provides a long-lasting green and jumpstarts growth, all without preemergent herbicide.
Use IFA Lawn & Pasture Fertilizer when you're planting new grass seed or overseeding a lawn in place of #1 Crabgrass Preventer + Lawn Food. The latter will inhibit lawn seed germination. IFA 16-16-8 Premium Garden Fertilizer is also a good lawn alternative when you've planted new grass seed.
On lawns, apply 3.3 lb per 1,000 sq ft in the spring between February and April at 4 to 6 week intervals for the best results. Apply in dry conditions and water in soon after application.
On pastures, apply 100–150 lb per acre (2.25–3.5 lb per 1,000 sq ft) in dry conditions for an early green-up between March and April. Apply a second time near the end of June. Water in within 48 hours after each application.
Remove your horses from the pasture prior to application. Re-introduce your horses into the pasture after the nitrogen pellets have completely dissolved with at least 1/2 inch of irrigation or rainfall.
Information for this article was provided by Tyler Stinson, Branch Manager, American Fork IFA Country Store; and Ken Holt, Lawn & Garden Category Manager, IFA Country Store.