Fertilizing Your Lawn During Fall: The Dos and Don’ts


Fall is officially here, and even though that means that we’re forced to take a break from our gardening hobby, there’s still so much that we have to do before winter arrives. One of those things, that we often tend to overlook, is lawn fertilization. Even though the grass is growing at a slower rate than it does during the summer months, that in no way means that we should neglect our green carpet. Fall lawn fertilization sets the stage for a lush, vibrant lawn come spring. That’s why we decided to explore the dos and don’ts of fertilizing your lawn during the fall season.

The Dos of Fall Lawn Fertilization

Do Choose the Right Fertilizer: Not all fertilizers are the same. That’s why choosing the right one is the first step to a successful fall fertilization. Look for a fall-specific lawn fertilizer with a balanced N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio. The “slow-release” or “winterizer” fertilizers are excellent choices for fall. That’s because they provide a steady supply of nutrients over several weeks, nourishing your lawn at a gradual pace.

Do Schedule the Application: Timing is everything in fall lawn care. Aim to fertilize your lawn in late September to early October, when the grass is still actively growing but not too close to the first frost. This timing gives your grass enough time to absorb the nutrients and build strong roots before winter arrives, ensuring it’s well-prepared for the harsher conditions ahead.

Do Mow Before Application: Give your lawn a good mowing before applying fertilizer. This ensures better fertilizer-to-soil contact, allowing the nutrients to reach the grass roots effectively. By mowing, you also remove excess thatch and debris, creating a clean canvas for the fertilizer to work its magic.

Do Water After Application: After spreading the fertilizer evenly, water your lawn thoroughly. This step is crucial as it helps the fertilizer penetrate the soil and activates its nutrient release. Think of it as giving your grass a refreshing drink after a satisfying meal. Finally, this ensures that the nutrients are absorbed where they are needed most.

The Don’ts of Fall Lawn Fertilization

Don’t Use High-Nitrogen Fertilizers: While nitrogen is essential for grass growth, using high-nitrogen fertilizers in the fall can be counterproductive. Too much nitrogen can result in excessive top growth, making your lawn more susceptible to winter damage. Instead, opt for a fall-specific fertilizer with a balanced nutrient profile to encourage root growth without an excessive flush of new foliage.

Don’t Fertilize Frozen or Damp Lawns: Applying fertilizer to frozen or waterlogged lawns is a big no-no. Wait for a dry day when the grass and soil are not wet or frozen to ensure that the nutrients are absorbed properly. Fertilizing under these unfavorable conditions can lead to nutrient runoff, wasting your efforts and potentially harming the environment.

Don’t Ignore Soil Testing: Before applying any fertilizer, it’s a good practice to conduct a soil test. This helps you understand your soil’s nutrient needs and ensures you’re applying the right type and amount of fertilizer. Soil testing is a valuable tool in creating a customized lawn care plan tailored to your specific soil conditions, helping you achieve the best results.

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