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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lawns Need Fertilizer Before It Gets Cold

Q. What does a lawn need In November or December?

A. You didn’t tell me what kind of lawn you have so I will assume it is tall fescue or an overseeded Bermudagrass. I like to recommend your final application of fertilizer for the year right around Thanksgiving. This last application of a high nitrogen fertilizer helps keep it dark green through the winter.
            This application must go on before it gets really cold. If you wait too long and apply it later in December you run the risk that your lawn will enter into dormancy and start turning brown. Once it turns brown, it is difficult to get it green again until temperatures begin to warm.

            Hopefully you have been applying a decent lawn fertilizer through the year. Good turfgrass fertilizers have half of their nitrogen content in the organic form or slow release. They also are relatively low in phosphorus compared to the other numbers. If you have been using good turfgrass fertilizers through the year, all you need to apply is straight nitrogen now such as ammonium sulfate or blood meal for organic growers.

            The usual rates recommended on the bag, in my opinion, are much too high. You can usually reduce that rate by 25% easily. If you are returning your lawn clippings to the lawn with a mulching mower you can reduce it to half of the recommended rate.
            You missed the ideal time to remove thatch with a dethatcher. That should’ve been done in mid-September to the first part of October. You can aerate your lawn or punch holes in it with an aerator any time of the year but mid-to-late spring is a great time for that.

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