Not sure when to fertilize your lawn? Many homeowners know that fertilizer is a good idea in the spring and summer when the lawn is lush and growing, but things get a little hazy when fall and winter arrive. Should you fertilize in the fall? Should you let your grass die out?
Fertilizing in fall is actually a very good idea, especially for specific grass types. Here’s what you need to know.
Cool Season Grasses Need Reliable Growth
Cool season grasses are the grass species used in warmer climates. This type of grass tends to grow through the winter, although its growth rate typically slows down a lot (if you aren’t sure what type of grass you have, ask a professional). Cool season grasses can particularly benefit from fertilizer in the fall because they need some extra energy to keep growing over the winter when conditions can be harsher. In fact, cool season grasses often do most of their growth in the fall and may “starve” if they don’t get enough fertilizer to see them through. Wetter seasons are also the time when mold, disease and pests can become more dangerous, so fertilizing will help cool season grasses prepare for this.
Warm Season Grasses Need to Prepare for the Cold
Add fertilizer to warm season grasses in the early fall! If you wait too long, your grass will start a growing cycle too close to winter, and become damaged by the cold weather. But early fall is an ideal time to fertilize. Warm grasses tend to brown out and die down over winter. However, you are giving them one last, valuable growth spurt before that time, which will help your lawn look even better next spring.
Both Grasses Need to Toughen Up
Fall fertilizers tend to have plenty of potassium, which allows grass blades to reinforce their structure and become hardier. When you deal with wind, rain or snow in your area, it’s important to keep your grass as strong as possible in the winter months. Make sure that you pick out a fertilizer that’s designed for fall use!
Fall is Excellent for Root Growth
Root growth is paramount for fall grass maintenance. Both warm and cool season grasses need strong roots to survive in winter, especially cold winters. Remember, grass can survive almost anything if the roots stay strong and undamaged by the cold. That means fall is the time to feed your grass fertilizers that they can use to build up their root systems.
Fall Fertilizers are Easily Absorbed
Fall tends to encourage more moisture and fall mornings tend to have a lot of dew. This makes it easier for grasses to absorb fertilizers as they sink deep into the soil. It’s important for grass to get the full benefit of the fertilizers you are using! Of course, you shouldn’t fertilize when it’s too wet, which is another reason to not wait too long before this project.