If you live in Atlanta, you know how hot and humid it gets during the summer months. Ensuring that your lawn and garden survive the brutal summer sun often takes a bit of practice to get right. Proper fertilization will give all the plant life in your yard the best chance at flourishing despite the heat. Here are a few tips to get you off to the right start when fertilizing in summer months.
Do not fertilize fescue lawns. Fescue is a hardy grass that stays green all winter long and grows between September and June. Fertilizing fescue during the summer months can prevent the roots from absorbing food, which makes it much more susceptible to disease.
Fescue can turn a bit yellow during the heat of the summer, especially in July. When this happens, most people assume the lawn needs to be fertilized, when it just needs a water-soluble iron supplement.
Who can help: Because fescue is not a warm weather grower, a full service lawn care company might be the best bet to keep your fescue lawn beautiful during the harsh Georgia summers.
Fertilize Bermuda lawns. Bermuda grass flourishes during the summer months. When the grass in your lawn is about 50 percent green in the spring, fertilizing begins. Continue to fertilize your Bermuda grass every six weeks until mid-September.
Who can help: A landscaping company can keep track of your Bermuda grass fertilizing schedule and take the guesswork out of keeping lawns green.
Fertilize centipede grass. Centipede grass is a warm season grower, with the bulk of growth happening between April and September. Centipede grass in Georgia needs to be fertilized twice each year, once in late spring and once mid-summer.
It's important to have your soil tested to find the right fertilizer to use on your lawn. If your lawn has not had limed applied in several years, your soil is likely too acidic. Centipede grass can tolerate some acidity, but bringing the soil pH back to 6.0 will help the grass look its best and brightest.
Who can help: A lawn care company can put your lawn on a maintenance schedule that includes the proper fertilization.
Fertilize zoysia grass. Zoysia grass is similar to Bermuda in its growth patterns. Both are summer growers, but zoysia does not need to be fertilized as often as Bermuda. To keep your lawn looking its best, apply the first application of fertilizer once the ground has reached 65 degrees, which is typically in mid-spring. You'll know it's safe to fertilize because 75 to 100 percent of the lawn will be a beautiful shade of green. Apply fertilizer every seven weeks until mid-September.
Who can help: Your local landscape company can keep track of when your lawn needs to be fertilized and apply the fertilizer, so your lawn stays happy and green.
Fertilize St. Augustine grass. St. Augustine grass is a beautiful summer grass that requires fairly frequent fertilization to keep it looking good. The first application is in the spring, when the grass is about 50 percent green and the ground temperature stays above 65 degrees. After the first application, fertilize your lawn every six weeks until mid-September, when the grass has finished growing and begins to die out for the winter.
Who can help: A professional lawn care company can take the guesswork out of fertilizing in summer.
Bushes and shrubs
Bushes and shrubs that are young typically need to be fertilized during growth periods. Most shrubs and bushes will thrive best if fertilized in March, May and July. Established plants that do not bloom do not typically need to be fertilized during the summer.
Roses and other blooming bushes will typically need more fertilizing than non-blooming varieties, as growing and sustaining buds and flowers requires more nutrients. The basic rule of thumb for fertilizing flowering bushes in Georgia is to offer three tablespoons of a 10-10-10 fertilizer every month from March until September.
Who can help: A professional landscaping company can help you keep your bushes and shrubs looking and feeling their best.
Most established, non-fruit bearing trees in Atlanta do not need summer fertilization. Fruit trees are typically fertilized in the spring, with the exception of citrus trees, which need to be fertilized with light, frequent doses of citrus-specific fertilizers.
If you are planting new trees, the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service can give you a soil analysis test that will help you decide what type of fertilization is necessary to promote healthy tree growth. Do not put fertilizer directly into the planting hole, as it can kill the young tree.
Who can help: A professional tree service can help keep your trees fed and pruned for ideal growth.
Most Georgia gardeners have their soil tested by the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service several months before planting season begins to learn which nutrients and minerals are missing from the soil.
When planting, it is important to consider the growing season for each type of fruit or vegetable you are planting. In Georgia, gardens are fertilized once before planting and once in the middle of the growing season. With this in mind, planting fruits and vegetables that have similar growing season lengths in plots will allow you to accurately fertilize, and thus maximize your fruit and vegetable harvest.
Fertilization done in the middle of the growing season is typically applied by "side dressing." When you side dress, you dig a narrow trench a couple of inches deep at the plant's drip line, or six inches from the base of the plant, whichever is greater. Once the furrow is dug, sprinkle in dry fertilizer and lightly covered with soil. This helps prevent burning the roots of the plant, which can quickly end the life of the plants in your garden.
Who can help: Most Atlanta area gardeners plant and keep up their gardens themselves, but a landscape design company can help you get your garden area off to a good start.