Can You Use Autumn Lawn Feed in Spring?

A lot of times we wonder if we can save some extra bucks by using our old autumn lawn feed during spring. Or maybe we are a little unsure about which lawn feed to use at a given point time. Well, after digging through a lot of information here and there, I found out some pretty interesting and useful tips that I would like to share today.

So the question is “can you use autumn lawn feed in spring?” You will not want to apply an autumn fertilizer in spring if you are looking for the best results. Autumn lawn feeds contain a high quantity of phosphates and potassium to make your lawn stronger at the grassroots. These will not work well in spring due to your lawn needing nutrients that help push top growth.

That being said, applying autumn lawn feed in the spring will not necessarily hurt your lawn, but it will not provide the type of results homeowners typically look for in the spring. There is more to consider when making the choice of what lawn feed to use.

Having the right lawn feed will not do much good if it is not coupled with other lawn care activities. In this article, I will guide you through choosing the right lawn feed to use in spring as well as other cool tricks you can apply to give yourself a green, magnificent and healthy-looking lawn.

Knowing The Right Lawn Feed to Use

With so many brands to choose from and crazy marketing spins deterring your decision making, it can be overwhelming to know what to buy. But first things first, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for.

In spring, the grass is just starting to grow back again after going through a harsh, cold winter. While it might be tempting to pump your lawn with feed at this point, you should go a little easy on the fertilizing process.

Too much fertilizer too late in the spring can lead to a rapid growth that can stress the grass and make it have a hard time surviving the hot summer in northern lawns.

What you need to do is to feed your grass on a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer that will encourage steady growth over the next couple of months. When applied, slow-release fertilizers will last between 8-12 weeks, which helps ease your lawn into the summer conditions that are much warmer.

The reason why autumn lawn feeds are not effective for use in spring is that they are usually made to prepare the grass for the cold, icy conditions of winter. They are not made to be particularly good at boosting top growth which provides no benefits when winter is coming and the grass will have a hard time growing in the freezing temperatures.

Instead, autumn lawn feed specifically aims to increase root strength by using their high phosphate and potassium content that is known to improve root strength, length, and diameter. This stronger root system helps the lawn survive winter and be healthy turf come springtime.

At What Point In Spring Should You Apply Spring Lawn Feed?

While most fertilizer brands will encourage you to start the application process early on in spring, this is generally not favorable for your lawn. Cool-season grasses will normally hit their growth peak during late spring; so, it is recommended to start fertilizing around late May and early June as the grass begins to grow intensely.

During the first few months of spring, the grass will naturally be building up carbohydrate reserves in the roots, meaning that much of its growth effort is dedicated to growing its root system. Finally, when summer comes, the nutrients it stored during early spring will then be directed toward growing the shoots.

In any case, if you fertilized your lawn during the last autumn, then the grass will still have some spare nutrients to keep it looking healthy on top.

How to Apply Your Fertilizer

Professional landscapers will typically apply spray fertilizer in a short amount of time with their special equipment. However, if this is not something you do as your day job, then the best option is to use granular fertilizers.

These are best applied during overcast days when the temperatures are not high or during days that forecast a rain downpour. In addition, it is better to spread the granules in the morning when the grass still has some dew glazed on it.

You might want to consider watering your lawn when applying fertilizers because the water will help to dissolve the granules for quicker absorption into the soil. However, be sure to find out whether you need to water your lawn before or after you apply the fertilizers by reading the package or asking your retailer.

To apply the granules, use either a broadcast spreader or a drop spreader to evenly distribute the fertilizer. Make sure that the spreader doesn’t drop large amounts of granules in a single spot as these will scorch that area of the lawn.

How Much Fertilizer Should I Apply?

All fertilizers will have a label on their package depicting their level of nutrients. You will see the letters NPK (standing for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) and how much of each is contained in the mixture.

For a spring feed, a combination of 20-5-10 will be sufficient. This means that the fertilizer to look out for is one with 20% Nitrogen, 5% Phosphorus, and 10% Potassium. Don’t forget that.

Remember that the feed you are looking for is a “slow-release fertilizer” so you will have the liberty to wait about 8 weeks before your second application. Lawn expert Jeff Turnbull says that sometimes, your third application should be switched up from chemical lawn fertilizer to organic content such as manure.

What Else Can I Do To Maintain My Lawn In Spring?


One of the best things you can ever do for your lawn is to mow it regularly and correctly. As the weather gets warmer during spring, the grass will start to grow at a faster rate. The length at which you should cut your grass is determined by your grass type and the time of year.

You should avoid cutting the grass too short (also known as scalping your grass) as this exposes it to the onset of weeds and moss and can be very stressful on your lawn.

Be sure to also use a sharp mowing blade, as a blunt one will simply tear off the grasstops leaving them looking dull brown and exposed to diseases.

Raking your lawn is something that you’ll be happy about as time goes on. However, try to be gentle while raking the lawn in spring because the soil is still quite soggy and the grass shoots are somewhat tender and can be ripped out or damaged easily.


Overseeding means spreading seeds all over your lawn. The process helps to give your lawn a thicker appearance especially if it was severely damaged during the winter. Overseeding can be done in both spring and fall, but for the best results, I recommend the fall.


The process of aeration entails creating small holes into the soil of your lawn. It works well when done together with overseeding, and allows your fertilizer as well as air and water to gain better access to the grassroots.


As your grass starts growing in spring, remember to keep watering it, in addition to the fertilizer you applied. A healthy dose of water is about one inch per week, and you can reduce this amount gradually as you approach summer.

Needless to say, if you are receiving plenty of rain, then hold back on the sprinkler. If you water the lawn excessively, weeds start to grow and the roots will eventually begin to drown and die away causing a gloomy-looking lawn.


Debris and material like moss and thatch might quickly stop your lawn from achieving that thick, deluxe appearance. One way to solve this problem is by taking out the unwanted material before you start applying the fertilizer or carrying out overseeding.

However, it is important to note that during early spring, the grass is more tender and can be damaged with heavy scarification, so be gentle at it and proceed with caution.

Related Questions

What is the difference between autumn and spring lawn feed?

The distinction is really found in the number of nutrients that have been packed in there. Autumn fertilizers typically have an NPK ratio of 3-3-12 or 3-3-6, meaning they are richer in potassium than anything else. On the other hand, spring fertilizers are richer in nitrogen and contain an NPK ratio of about 12-3-12.

My grass got damaged during winter. Do I have to wait till late spring to apply fertilizer?

If the damage was extreme, you can apply a one-time moderate dose of a fast release spring lawn fertilizer. Done with an appropriate level of watering, this will reinvigorate the appearance of your lawn within 4-6 weeks.

Jeremy Hoxie

I'm Jeremy and I'm the golden retriever raising, craft beer drinking, guy in the neighborhood who spends too much time on his lawn. Fueled by my passion for understanding the nuances of lawn care, I am eager to both build onto my experience maintaining lawns over the years and testing new things while on the hunt for the perfect lawn!

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