Lawn Fertilizer - When is too soon?

Asked May 5, 2019, 12:31 PM EDT

I have two questions if you would be so kind to assist with. 1) Was wondering how soon is too soon to lay down my organic lawn fertilizer? I know temps in GR have been below normal thus far. 2) When can I prune my crab apple and pear trees? Thank you so much for your assistance.

Kent County Michigan

2 Responses

The precise times for fertilizing lawns vary across the state, but fertilizing around Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day (after the last mowing but about four weeks before the soil freezes) are good rules of thumb. If you only apply fertilizer once or twice a season, the two fall applications are the key fertilizing times. Please see the information in the link below.

If you haven't done so, a soil test would be a good idea before applying your fertilizer. You can obtain a soil test kit with full instructions here:

I bring this up primarily because many communities in Michigan have implemented a complete or partial ban on using phosphorus on established home lawns. Phosphorus is one of the primary contaminants of surface water in Michigan, and the runoff is affecting our streams and lakes with an abundance of algae growth. You might want to inquire about your area's restrictions, if any. Often phosphorus is allowed only if a soil test shows it is needed.

When pruning your trees, the first and most important step is to use clean and sharp pruning tools. A 10% Clorox solution does a good job of disinfecting the cutting blades. Tools should be sharp to insure a clean and smooth cut and proper tissue healing. Scissor types of hand pruners or loppers are recommended for the best cutting and smaller limb removal. Tree paints and wound compounds are not necessary. For larger limbs, chain saws will be required. Make cuts back to within a half inch of the main trunk or side limb.

The best time for crabapple pruning is when the tree is dormant, but when the possibility of severely cold weather has passed. This means pruning should be done in late winter or early spring before the leaves appear. Suckers, the little shoots that come straight out of the ground around the base of the tree, can be pruned away at any time of year.

Regarding your pear trees, late March is an ideal time for pruning, allowing time to assess the toll of winter, yet early enough to allow for fast healing of wounds, without pressure from insect pests or disease. Once the trees are mature enough to flower and bear fruit, pear trees generally tend to produce the best crop on wood that is 2-3 years of age. So, the goal in pruning the them is to keep a good amount of the appropriate-age wood for that particular species.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Crabapple Pruning Info: When And How To Prune Crabapples
s much easier to see which branches should be removed and also gives the trees the entire spring and summer to form new growth.

Thank you so much for your time and assistance