What Occurs When You Neglect Fall Fertilization for Your Lawn?

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What Occurs When You Neglect Fall Fertilization for Your Lawn?

Would you like to have a healthy and beautiful lawn this spring? One effective way to achieve this is by fertilizing your lawn during the fall season. Lawn experts recommend fall fertilization for several reasons. Fertilizing your lawn during fall provides vital nutrients required for the spring growing season. Results show that grass fertilized during fall has higher levels of stored carbohydrates, making it more stress-tolerant and able to recover faster from traffic or pest-induced stress. Moreover, turf that is fertilized during fall greens up a few weeks earlier than the unfertilized ones.

However, if you missed fertilizing your lawn during the fall or were unaware of it, you may be wondering if it is too late to do it now. Fertilizing your lawn when the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit is not advisable since the grass will not absorb the nutrients properly. The good news is that skipping fall fertilization won’t ruin your lawn. You can still achieve a beautiful and healthy lawn by fertilizing it correctly this spring.

What to do if you forgot to fertilize your lawn

Fertilizer in spreader

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You will want to apply fertilizer early in the spring, between February and April. Just make sure the air temperature is higher than 40 degrees F. You’ll want to apply it around the time that your lawn needs to be mowed. Look for a 32-0-4 fertilizer like Scott’s Turf Builder Pro. It should have 32-0-4 located somewhere on the label. These fertilizers contain 32% Nitrogen, 0% Phosphorus, and 4% Potassium. Some fertilizers, like Scotts, also help protect against weeds as well.

To apply the fertilizer, you’ll first want to water your lawn. You should do this a few days before applying the fertilizer. After watering, apply the fertilizer to your entire lawn using a broadcast spreader. You can use a handheld spreader if you have a small lawn. Apply fertilizer no more than once every six weeks. More frequent applications can damage your lawn. Besides early spring, late spring, summer, and fall are the best times to fertilize. Set up a reminder on your phone calendar to fertilize at these times.

Other tips to make your lawn green again

Man mowing the grass

Melinda Nagy/Shutterstock

Besides fertilizing, there are some other important things that you’ll want to do to bring your lawn back to life this spring. Doing these things, along with fertilizing, will help ensure that your lawn thrives. The first thing to do is prevent weeds. Besides making your lawn look bad, weeds compete for water and nutrients and can kill your turfgrass. If you use a fertilizer with weed control, you won’t need to use anything else on your lawn for those pesky dandelions. But, if you use fertilizer only, then also use either a natural or commercial product to get rid of your lawn’s weeds.

Next, make sure you select the highest grass setting on your mower when you mow the lawn. Cut just ⅓ of the grass blades with each mowing. When your grass blades are longer, it helps the roots grow deeper. This makes it easier for the roots to find nutrients and water in the soil, leading to a greener, healthier lawn. Also, when roots are deeper, it makes it harder for weeds to grow. Most grass does well with taller mower settings, but there are a few, such as Bermuda grass, that thrive when they are kept shorter.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.