Since we all want to enjoy lush, green lawns as soon as the weather gets nice, fertilizing your lawn in the spring seems obvious. Yet, it’s by fertilizing in the previous fall that you’ll get the best results. We’ll tell you why in this article.
Why should you fertilize your lawn in the fall?
Whatever the season, the main purpose of lawn fertilizer is to provide your grass with the nutrients it needs to grow thicker, which in turn will limit the space available for weeds to grow and make it more resistant to disease and pests.
In the fall, lawn fertilizer serves two additional specific purposes:
- Preparing your lawn for winter
Fertilizing your lawn in the fall promotes sugar production, making the grass more resistant to frost. In other words, the nutrients contained in fertilizers give the grass the strength it needs to go through winter.
- Ensuring quick spring green-up
Late-season fertilization promotes root development, enabling the lawn to enter spring with healthier, deeper roots. In addition, the nitrogen stored in the roots ensures quick green-up in the spring, since it’s already available when growth resumes.
In the fall, when is the best time to fertilize my lawn?
Keep in mind that you can apply lawn fertilizer at two different times in the fall, depending on your objectives. The first application will help the lawn recover from the damage suffered during the growing season. It should be done in early fall, between mid-August and mid-September. The second will help the grass get through the winter and accelerate green-up the following spring. It should be done when the lawn has stopped growing but is still green (generally during the last two weeks of October). Finally, remember that applying lawn fertilizer in November will be of no use.
Applying grass fertilizer after the growing season for added protection against the cold
Did you know that lawn roots remain active longer than the shoots? They are therefore able to store the nitrogen found in fertilizers even when temperatures are lower and grass growth has stopped. This allows the grass to store the sugars produced by nitrogen assimilation, rather than using them for growth. Just as a bottle of juice takes longer to freeze than a bottle of water, grass filled with sugars will take longer to freeze and will freeze at lower temperatures.
The best type of lawn fertilizer to use before winter
Choose a grass fertilizer with a higher potassium concentration (the third NPK digit), as it helps lawns to withstand various stresses such as disease, drought, trampling, and cold. For instance, a fertilizer with the numbers 4-2-9 on the packaging means that it contains 4% nitrogen, 2% phosphorus, and 9% potassium available on a weight basis. If the fertilizer you choose is enriched with essential micronutrients such as iron, calcium, and magnesium, which contribute to your lawn’s overall health, then it’s even better! A fertilizer like Fafard’s Natural Fertilizer for Lawn (Step 3/Fall) is a great choice since it is packed with all these nutrients.
In conclusion, fertilizing your lawn in the fall is an essential step to prepare it for winter and ensure a quick green-up once the warm weather returns. The right lawn fertilizer will provide the nutrients needed to strengthen roots, promote thick grass growth, and improve resistance to disease and pests. Take care of your grass in the fall, and you’ll be rewarded with a healthy, green lawn the following spring.