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Harnett County,
North Carolina

Cooperative Extension 

Do I need to fertilize my grass now?


Question Do I need to fertilize my grass now?

Answer In general, fertilizer should be applied to fescue 3 times per year – twice in the fall and once in the spring. The first fertilization is applied in late winter and the grass uses the fertilizer throughout the spring. The spring/late winter fertilization should be made around the end of February.

Fescue requires one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet of lawn. This translates into 10 pounds of 10-10-10 or 12.5 pounds of 8-8-8 per 1000 square feet of lawn. There are many fertilizers besides 10-10-10 and 8-8-8, but they are the most commonly used. A 30 day slow release fertilizer would be better, but it will cost a little more.

If spring is warm and/or rainy, then a fescue lawn may use up its fertilizer ration more quickly. When this happens, your grass may get a case of the “yellers.” Yeller refers to the color of the grass and not residents of Spivey’s Corner (Sampson County residents are hollerers not yellers).

It is better for a fescue lawn to be lean rather than fat going into the summer months. This means the color of the grass should be light green or slightly yellow instead of deep, dark green. While this may be counter intuitive, a leaner grass will be less disease prone during the summer than a “fat” grass.

“Weed and Feed” fertilizers can also be used on fescue at this time. They usually help to deter the early development of crabgrass. A later application of a single preemergent herbicide (no fertilizer) in late April will probably be needed to continue crabgrass control through the early summer.

The most common grass in Harnett County is centipede, not fescue. It is dormant now. DO NOT fertilizer centipede or any of the warm season grass until early summer. There are no exceptions. With centipede, incorrect timing and fertilizer rates will cause you multiple problems in the long run.

Weed and Feed products are not designed to be used on centipede. Yes, you can use them as a fertilizer, but the effectiveness of the herbicide will probably not be worth the extra cost. Straight herbicides (post or preemergent) can be more economically and effectively used to target specific weeds.

For more fescue info, visit If you do not have internet access, please call the Extension Office at 893-7533 or email me at

While there seems to be some debate about the definition of the slang term “phat”, it probably means fashionable, stylish or excellent. So, it could be said that you need to get off your fat grass and fertilize your phat fescue now rather than later.

Gary L. Pierce

Horticulture Extension Agent

Harnett County

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