We finally hired a lawn care company because we were over-run with lesser celandine. The lawn is quite healthy now, but they want to apply fertilizer 3 times a year. Is this necessary? Also, they are eager to come out now, but the yard is sodden from recent flooding and more rain is coming--it seems like the fertilizer could just wash out to the bay. What is your advice?
Baltimore County Maryland
Since you have a lawn care company, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the basics of lawn care. The MD Lawn Fertilizer Act was passed in 2011, which also applies to commercial lawn businesses, we are reminded not to overfertilize. The law addresses nitrogen and phosphorus applications only because they have a negative impact on water quality in our streams, rivers and the Bay.
The lawn care company should perform a soil test. Most likely they did this and you should talk to them about the results. The results will give pH, liming, and nutrient deficiencies. Late summer into the fall is the recommended time to apply fertilizer to cool-season grass like tall fescue.
Here is our link on lawns and fertilization. It is recommended to apply no more than 2.7 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 square feet annually. If your soil test report shows a deficiency, you can apply .5 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 sq ft mid May to early June and the rest in the fall. See the fertilizer schedule http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/umd-extension-lawn-fertilizer-schedule-home-lawns
Also see our Turfgrass Maintenance Calendar and other Resources in the above link.