What Fertilizer To Use In The Fall
The answer here depends on local ordinances or state laws. Some states do not allow the use of lawn fertilizers that contain phosphorus . Even though phosphorus is critical for root growth during seed and sod establishment and in the fall to assist in root redevelopment, many soils naturally contain phosphorus so its not necessary to apply more.
If you live in a phosphorus-free community, use fertilizers containing readily available nitrogen sources and a fertilizer higher in potassium . This will properly feed your lawn going into winter. Good numbers would be 24-0-12 or 21-0-21.
If you live in a municipality or state where fertilizers containing phosphorus are allowed, this can add another layer of plant health protection to prepare your lawn for a harsh winter. A good example would be 24-5-10 or 20-5-20. A lawn starter fertilizer, such as a 14-14-14 or 12-24-12 would also work.
Liquid or soluble fertilizers containing similar NPK ratios can also be used. However, understand that recommended application rates of sprayable lawn fertilizers will deliver fewer nutrients per application compared to granular products. But, using a hose-end sprayer to apply a fall fertilizer is still an acceptable method of application. You may have to apply two applications a couple of weeks apart to realize its full benefit.
Apply Grass Fertilizer Correctly
Now you’re ready to apply. Feeding the lawn is as simple as mowing it, and as easy as walking at your normal steady pace. Just follow these guidelines for easy application and even coverage.
If youre using a broadcast spreader, feed the entire perimeter of your lawn first. Engage the side-shield, which blocks off one side of the spreader to keep the product on the lawn and out of gardening beds and off driveways and sidewalks. Next, fill in the middle by turning off the side-shield feature and walking back and forth in straight lines. To get even coverage, overlap slightly on each pass by moving over 2 steps before you begin the pass.
When using a drop spreader, start by applying 2 header strips at opposite ends of the lawn to create a turning area. Next, fill in the rest of the lawn by applying the fertilizer back and forth in straight lines perpendicular to your header strips. To ensure you get even coverage, be sure to overlap the wheel tracks by about half a foot .
After youve finished feeding your lawn, return any unused product to the bag and store it for future use.
How To Match Fertilizers And Goals
Fertilizers come in many different formulations to feed lawns and meet other goals. Pennington UltraGreen lawn fertilizers provide lawn grasses with an ideal blend of plant nutrients in superior forms.
These premium lawn fertilizers deliver quick greening and extended feeding. Half of the nitrogen in this line* is stabilized, which means less nitrogen is lost to the environment and your grass can use more of the fertilizer you feed. The other half releases slowly to continue feeding your lawn for up to three months.
- Pennington UltraGreen Lawn Fertilizer 30-0-4 promotes thick, green grass in all types of established lawns. It’s also phosphorus-free to protect water sources from unnecessary excess lawn phosphorus.
- Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4 feeds grass with phosphorus-free fertilizer and prevents crabgrass seeds from germinating and establishing.
- Pennington UltraGreen Starter Fertilizer 22-23-4, designed specifically to help new lawn grass establish, contains plentiful phosphorus and a higher percentage of potassium. These two nutrients support the development of strong, vigorous new roots and vigorous overall growth.
Weed & feed products handle active weeds in established lawns.
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Why Fall Fertilizing Is Important
Just like fertilizing evergreens, fertilizing a lawn in fall has a range of benefits that you will continue to see the results of into the next year and beyond. In fact, it is one of the main ways to make a lawn green and thick.
‘Fall fertilization supplies your lawn with essential nutrients it needs to help strengthen the roots ready for winter,’ Jonathan clarifies. ‘Improving your lawns general health will help protect it from severe weather conditions, boost its resilience to weeds and diseases such as fusarium patch, and will result in a healthier, greener sward once growth begins the following spring.’
‘Fall feeding allows lawns to still look aesthetically pleasing over the winter months,’ Tim adds. ‘It will also prepare them to grow rapidly and strongly once temperatures rise in the spring. For fall feeds, it is important to use a fertilizer that has a lower level of nitrogen than the spring and summer feeds, but a higher level of potassium and phosphorous to encourage good root growth and general hardiness . The application of iron with the fertilizer will help control any moss present and also give the grass sward a good rich green color.
‘As well as feeding lawns in the fall, we combine it with scarifying , aerating , top dressing with fresh compost, and rolling to fulfill the end-of-year maintenance program for important and heavily used lawn areas,’ Tim says.
Tree And Shrub Fertilizer
Fall is also a great time to fertilize shrubs and trees. In my opinion, all trees and shrubs need fertilizer, because most of them are located in mulch beds that use up nitrogen as they decompose. In addition, every fall we rake leaves off these beds, depriving plants of the nutrients that decomposing leaves would traditionally release.
To compensate, I recommend applying one to three pounds of slow-release nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of bed and cultivating lightly. I prefer fertilizing trees in late September and early October to promote root growth.
These nutrients will still be in the soil come spring when plants start to grow. If you have a tree or shrub that does not flower well, a dose of super phosphate will help promote flower growth. However, if the plant is not located in the right spot, all the super phosphate in the world won’t make it flower.
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Should You Fertilize Or Seed First In The Fall
You should apply the fertilizer first before adding the grass seeds.
Heres the deal, these seeds are highly vulnerable. So if the soil conditions arent right, they may fail to take root and grow. Applying a fertilizer enriches the lawn soil, creating a productive environment where the new seeds can grow.
That said, be careful with the amount of fertilizer you use. Adding too much or too little fertilizer can harm the seeds in the long run.
And definitely dont use a pre-emergent or product containing pre-emergent herbicide when seeding your lawn. These products will block grass seeds from germinating.
Can I Fertilize My Lawn Every 2 Weeks
To avoid over-fertilizing, applying a fertilizer every two weeks is not recommended. Fertilizing as often as every two weeks will likely lead to problems such as lawn burn, excessive grass growth, as well as polluted water that can lead to toxic algae growth. A natural, healthier way of feeding your lawn every two weeks would be to simply leave the grass clippings on the lawn surface after mowing your grass.
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Do You Need To Fertilize The Grass In The Hot Summer Months
Proper watering and fertilizing of lawn grass can promote healthier turf, with deep roots and a lush feel. Generally, you should not be grass fertilizing in hot weather. Overfertilizing can lead to the need to mow more often, and fertilizing at the wrong time can irreversibly damage your lawn. A summer lawn care schedule should mostly focus on watering and mowing as needed.
In general, fertilizing in hot weather is not recommended.
Should I Fertilize My Lawn In Winter
No, you shouldnt.
Some lawn owners make the mistake of doing their spring feeding too early when its still winter. The problem with this is that the grass is still dormant, meaning it cant absorb nutrients efficiently.
For the best results, wait until late spring which should fall somewhere between late May and early June.
I always recommend feeding your lawn when it is actively growing, and leaving it alone when it is not.
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Starter Fertilizer On Established Lawn Reasons Not To Use
Lawn starter fertilizer is basically formulated for new grass seed or sod. These broad range of fertilizers are best applied at the seeding or sod laying stage. When applied, starter fertilizer will help grass seedlings or sod to establish more quickly into a thick healthy lawn.
Starter fertilizers for lawn may come in different NPK ratios but they usually have a balanced amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium or contain two parts of nitrogen and one part of phosphorus and potassium. Examples of common lawn starter fertilizers are 10-10-10, 20-10-10, and 16-8-8.
Nitrogen is usually required by plants for enhanced growth and green pigmentation while phosphorous is needed for growth of various plant tissues including roots. Potassium promotes hardiness and resistance to disease, drought and harsh winter conditions.
At early stage, new grass seedlings have higher requirements for energy and nutrients thus need plenty amount of nitrogen and phosphorous which are only provided in starter fertilizers. This is why you should not use regular fertilizer on new grass seed or starter fertilizer on established lawn grass.
Using starter fertilizer on established lawns is strongly not recommended. This type of lawn fertilizer will not provide optimum and well balanced nutrition requirements for mature grass. Also, since starter fertilizers contain a higher levels of phosphorus, your turf might be getting more phosphorus than it needs.
How Do You Apply Starter Fertilizer
Before you start a new lawnor repair those bare spots, it might be important to get your soil tested. A sample of your soil should be taken to a nearby garden center or cooperative extension to determine the available amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in your soil. This will help you choose a better starter fertilizer when you are seeding or laying sod.
If you are seeding, a starter fertilizer with closer or equal levels of nitrogen and phosphorous will be helpful. If you are laying sod, then greater amounts of phosphorous will be needed to help the cut roots establish faster. Once you have made your decision, you can now apply the fertilizer as follows:
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When To Feed A New Lawn
A second application of starter fertilizer is recommended once the seed has germinated or, if you’ve chosen sod, once the sod has rooted in. You can test by grasping a handful of the sodded grass and giving it a gentle tug. If it remains in place and doesn’t pull up this mean roots are establishing. The nutrient needs differ slightly for a newly seeded lawn versus a sodded lawn after the grass is up and growing.
Atmospheric Losses: Volatilization And Denitrification
Volatilization and denitrification can cause atmospheric losses of nitrogen fertilizer. Although these losses usually are not considered a health or pollution hazard, they can reduce the efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer applications, resulting in greater costs and reduced turf quality.
Volatilization occurs when nitrogen is converted to ammonia gas and escapes to the atmosphere. It is more likely to occur following surface applications of urea or ammonium-containing fertilizers. Losses are favored by high soil pH , high temperatures, sandy soils, and thatch. Watering-in applications of urea and ammonium-containing fertilizers will reduce volatilization in turfgrass.
Denitrification takes place in saturated soils when anaerobic bacteria convert nitrate to N2, a gaseous form of nitrogen that escapes into the atmosphere. Turf that survives in poorly drained soils often turns yellow in wet weather owing to denitrification. Improved drainage at these sites will reduce N2 losses.
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Avoid Burning Your Lawn
When choosing lawn fertilizer, you must make sure you have the right mix. Years ago, people used primarily liquid, synthetic, fast-release, and agriculture-grade fertilizers on their lawns.
The idea behind quick-release fertilizer is to give your lawn a quick boost by releasing nutrients into the soil almost instantly . But these products often applied too much nitrogen at one time, and the microbes in the soil couldnt break it all down and the excess nitrogen often dried out grass blades and causes a burned look on the lawn.
For cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and fine fescue turfgrasses commonly used in Michigan, the quick release will not be applied during the summer months. Thats because synthetic fertilizer thats not watered into the lawn completely will cause stress and often result in lawn burn.
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Choosing Fall Fertilizers For Grass
Knowing when and how to fertilize your lawn in fall requires first knowing what kind of grass you have. Turf grass is typically categorized as either warm- or cool-season, and this seemingly small distinction plays a big role in general maintenance and nutrition timing.
Regardless of grass type, the role of fall fertilizer is to repair summer damage and build strength for winter. A rich source of nitrogen, as well as phosphorus and/or potassium, is the best way to achieve this.
Applying a slow-release fertilizer in fall will provide a steady supply of nutrition throughout much of the dormant season without overwhelming the grass. You can also opt for a fertilizer containing an herbicide to control weeds during the cooler months.
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Not All Lawn Foods Are The Same
If youve shopped for lawn food, you might have noticed a numbers on the label that looks something like this: 32-0-4. Most people ignore it, but this code tells you a lot about the lawn food youre about to buy. The numbers stand for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium and they tell you the percentage of those ingredients in the product by weight. But what do these letters and numbers add up to for the look of your lawn?
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Best Lawn Fertilizers For Fall Reviews
Most experts agree that fall is the prime time to fertilize most turf grasses. To get the most out of each application, you want to ensure youre using a formula that will repair summer damage while simultaneously preparing the lawn for winter.
While I believe there are many high-quality fertilizers on the market today, theres no denying that some are better than others. Based on my own research and experience, I recommend investing in one of these 5 formulas for your own fall lawn maintenance.
- Helps grass recover from summer stressors
- Ideal for all grass types
- High nitrogen ratio is not ideal for young lawns
Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard promises to do exactly what you want from a fall lawn fertilizer. Its formula prioritizes quick recovery and deep root development to prepare the grass for winter weather.
This fertilizer is a great option for nearly all lawns and can be applied to all popular turf grasses. However, you may want to use a more balanced fertilizer if your lawn was planted within the last year.
Although this fertilizer is advertised for use at any time in the fall, I personally recommend using it earlier rather than later. You want to avoid the high nitrogen triggering unseasonable growth when the years first frost is just around the corner.
How To Use: Apply evenly to wet or dry grass using a calibrated broadcast spreader. Water the area lightly to activate granules and work nutrients into the soil.
- Not appropriate for all grass types
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Best Fertilizer Number To Use On Your Lawn In The Summer
Before you get any further in your search for the best fertilizer ratio for your summer turf, you must make sure that you know the type of grass you have. A cool season grass like Kentucky Bluegrass cannot be fertilized in the summer. Something like Bermudagrass or St.Augustine can be fertilized in the summer.
Even when fertilizing in the summer months, you will have to be careful to use a more mild fertilizer with slow-release nitrogen. Fertilizing incorrectly and with the wrong formula can quickly burn out your summer turf.
Typical summer grass fertilizer numbers include:
Best Fertilizer for Garden in the Summer
The 20-5-20 fertilizer tends to be the best bet for the garden in the summer. Ensure that you are fertilizing before it rains so that the fertilizer can absorb properly and make its way into the soil. Its typically best to save fertilization for the early part of the summer when possible.
Best Fertilizer for Trees and Shrubs in the Summer
The trees and shrubs in your yard can be fertilized in the early summer. However, if it gets towards the late summer and you have still not fertilized, it makes sense to skip it and wait for the fall. The 16-8-8 is good for early summer fertilization for trees and shrubs.
Chemical Fertilizer Vs Organic Fertilizer
When selecting the best fertilizer for your grass, it’s important to know the difference between chemical and organic fertilizers. While synthetic fertilizers often produce quick results, much of the fertilizer doesn’t absorb into the soil and instead gets washed away by rainfall.
This can negatively impact water quality and local habitats, and the chemicals contained in this type of grass fertilizer can contribute to mineral depletion in your soil, waterway pollution, and air pollution.
Alternately, the best organic fertilizers for grass get their nutrients from natural sources, like compost, manure, bone meal, and even seaweed. While it can take slightly longer to see results from them in your backyard, organic fertilizers release their nutrients slowly, allowing them to absorb deep into the soil and reach your grass’s roots. This produces longer-lasting results and doesn’t pose the same environmental threats as chemical fertilizers.
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