California is one of the few states where grass grows year round in some regions and goes dormant in others. It can be overwhelming trying to map out water restrictions and seasonal nutrient needs for your annual care plan. So we have put together a California grower's guide to get the greenest lawn in the neighborhood!

We recommend an educated approach to properly and responsibly fertilize. This approach will always begin with a soil test kit. We recommend soil testing to know what your soil DNA looks like and what nutrients you need in your core fertilizer. Once you’ve had your soil tested, you'll want to know whether you can fertilize year-round or if there's a dormant winter period for your region where it's best to hold off on applying for a few months. You'll also want to determine what type of grass you have.

Application & Timing:

  • Application: 
    • For California we recommend at least 2 applications in the Spring and at least 2 more in the Fall
  • Timing: While soil temperatures vary significantly by region, the holiday fertilization calendar is a helpful guideline for timing your applications for warm and cool season grass types respectively.
    • Cool Season Grasses: St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Halloween
    • Warm Season Grasses: Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween


    The best time to fertilize your lawn is when the roots are growing. This means soil temperatures of at least ~60 degrees Fahrenheit for warm season grasses and ~40 for cool season varieties. Early season applications will help catalyze growth as your grass comes out of dormancy and late season applications will maintain your green color and protect your roots heading into winter. 

    Cool Season Grasses usually have two growing periods. The first is after the lawn’s return from winter dormancy in the spring, and the second is late summer through early fall when temperatures drop and precipitation increases. 

    Warm Season Grasses tend to do best when air temperatures are above 80°F. We recommend fertilizing when the weather warms in late April or early May and planning your final application in the early fall before temperatures get too low to support continued growth.


    For California, we typically recommend applying pre-emergent in February for Dandelion & Crabgrass and again in late August/early September for winter weeds.

    As you treat your grass with Gnome, herbicides will become less necessary. Once you’re feeding your lawn the right nutrients in the right quantities, it will promote growth in the right species and choke off the growth in invasive weeds.

    Gnome will be launching pre-emergent and post-emergent weed control in 2023. In the meantime, we recommend pulling weeds by hand (or with our Weed Puller), or using vinegar as a non-selective spot treatment for weed-infested patches. Always avoid synthetic, toxic herbicides, especially those that contain glyphosate or other carcinogens. 

    Soil pH:

    California soils are inherently alkaline (i.e., with a pH above 7.0). A soil test will tell you if your soil is too alkaline. In that case, you may need to apply a product with sulfur like Iron Strength to lower pH.

    Water & Drought:

    With the severity of the Southern California drought, it's imperative to follow best watering practices and use natural and organic products that promote a drought-tolerant lawn. Of course, water is essential for growth. Grass needs water year-round, even when dormant, but most homeowners water too often and too shallow. We recommend watering deeply, infrequently, and taking advantage of rainfall for irrigation whenever possible.

    Most grass needs around an inch of water each week, but newly planted lawns are especially thirsty. Try to time seeding or overseeding when there is precipitation in the forecast to minimize your water bill and environmental impact.

    The best time to water is in the morning (before 9 AM) or evening (after 5 PM) so that your grass has a chance to absorb the moisture before it evaporates from the sun. Avoid watering in peak mid-day heat if possible.


    Whether your grass goes dormant or grows all year, you'll want to do a soil test before choosing fertilizers for the upcoming year. With Gnome's soil test, you receive a PDF of your professional lab testing results and an easy-to-read summary of your soil condition and nutrient needs, including recommended products and a fully customized care plan.

    If you have any questions shoot us an email at , and we will be happy to help provide more information.

    Dava Morefield
    Tagged: Lawn Care 101