Before you apply fertilizer and lime you should know your soil nutrient values. Soil tests can be done at most Land Grant Universities for little or no fee. Others avenues for testing are County Extension Agents and maybe some of the better garden nurseries. An easy way to take a soil sample is to take an old golf club. Keeping the grip in place cut the shaft at a 45 degree angle about 2′ down on the shaft. About 2″ up from the angled cut, cut out or notch 1/2 of the shaft circumference. By inserting this into the soil it will remove a 2″ core of soil. Take at least a dozen core samples from all over the lawn area. You will need about 1/3 -1/2 lb. of soil in total. You then remove the grass top from the core and place the remaining soil in a brown bag to be sent off for testing.
It is best to apply fertilizer when the soil is moist and then water lightly. This will help the fertilizer move into the root zone where it is available to the plants, rather than stay on top of the soil where it can be blown or washed away. Watch the weather. Avoid applying it immediately before a heavy rain system is predicted to arrive. Too much rain (or sprinkler water) will take the nutrients away from the lawn’s root zone. Use the minimal amount of fertilizer necessary and apply it in small, frequent applications. An application of 2 pounds of fertilizer five times per year is better than 5 pounds of fertilizer twice a year. Calibrate your fertilizer spreader to be sure you know exactly how much material is being discharged in a given space. Follow instructions accompanying your spreader. When spreading fertilizer, cover ends of the lawn first, ten go back and forth across the rest of the lawn, using half of the recommended amount. Shut the spreader off before reaching the ends to avoik over-application. Apply the other half of the fertilizer going back and forth perpendicular to the first pattern. Dispose of fertilizer bags or containers in a safe and state-approved manner.