Fall fertilizing is one of those gardening tasks that, while super important for healthy turf, many people tend to blow it off. It’s easy to think about fertilizing come spring time when you are ready to pull your grass out of dull, brown dormancy. But fertilizing at the right time in fall not only helps your lawn get a mean green come springtime, it also strengthens and protects it through fall and winter too. Read on to see our facts about fall fertilizing.
6 Facts About Fall Fertilizing Warm Season Grasses in San Antonio
Stored Energy: Turf is able to take in the nitrogen from fall fertilizer and use it to produce carbohydrates, a vital energy source, that are stored and then used to aid lawns that are trying to recover from past drought damage and/or winter damage. If your lawn barely survived this past summer in San Antonio, you should be running to the nursery for your 18-6-12 for some help A.S.A.P.
It’s Easy Being Green: The nitrogen that gets converted into the carbohydrate energy also helps provide your lawn a quicker green up come spring time. Does it feels weird applying fertilizer to a lawn that is about to get brown and go dormant? Remember, although the grass on the upper level of the soil goes dormant, the roots below the soil do not. Just think how great it will feel once spring comes around and you have the first green lawn in the neighborhood! Whoo hoo! Applying fall fertilizer will also prolong the green that is still left in your turf right now, delaying the onset of the blah winter browns.
Protection On Many Levels: Fall fertilizing offers your turf winter protection in multiple ways. It offers increased cold hardiness, protecting turf from inclement weather and harsh temperature damage. Fall fertilizing also provides protection from weeds, pests, and disease by creating a strong, resilient turf. A healthy lawn is ALWAYS your best defense from all of these invaders. (Special side note…stop watering lawns at night, if you haven’t already, to reduce the risk of the dreaded Brown Patch disease.)
Timing Is Of The Essence: The time to fertilize for fall is mid to late October and no later than mid November, so essentially, NOW! Your fall fertilizer choice for this time of year, should be one that is high in nitrogen and potassium and lower in phosphorus. Our Rainbow Gardens 18-6-12 Premium Winterizer fits the bill. This fertilizer is activated once it is watered in and it’s chemical make up allows the nutrients to be taken up by the plant right away. If organic fertilizer is your cup of tea, you are a little late to the party. Organic fertilizer should have been applied about a month and a half ago when we wrote our blog about it. Organic fertilizer takes longer for the ingredients to break down and be available for plant uptake, hence the difference in application times. But timing is perfect for 18-6-12. See this link for our blog on organic fertilizer.
Apply What You Need, No More, No Less: The average gardener tends to think that when it comes to fertilizing, more is better. That simply is not true, for any garden fertilizing. David Rodriguez, Horticulturist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Bexar County, says when it comes to fall fertilizing, lawns need “NO more than 2 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet. This equates to about 40 pounds of 18-6-12 on a 7200 square foot lawn.” With the average yard being around 5,000 sq. ft., you’ll most likely have a little left over fertilizer; but no worries, check out the next bullet point. Measure your yard, calibrate your spreader, and only apply what you need to your turf.
Fall Lawn Fertilizer Has Multiple Uses: Any leftover fertilizer can be put to great use in other areas of your landscape. Fall is a great time to fertilize your trees, shrubs, and woody perennials, AS LONG AS you do it at the appropriate time. Fertilize mid to late October and you’ve offered your trees, shrubs, and woody perennials protection from decay, cold temperatures, and even breakage. See why you’ve got to get going on this? Oh yeah, you can also use 18-6-12 in your veggie gardens!
So don’t delay, that’s all we got to say. We ain’t tryin’ to be mean; but if you wait, you won’t be green!
The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy