Early Fall Key Time for Lawn Fertilization
Early September is an ideal time for lawn care, including fertilization.
When fertilizing lawns this fall, key decisions include choosing
a quality fertilizer and applying the correct amount.
The main concern for lawns is adding nitrogen, which helps give
a nice green color. When looking at the fertilizer bag, the three
numbers represent nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, in that order.
Phosphorus is generally not suggested in significant amounts unless
a soil test has shown a deficiency. Potassium is used for hardiness
of the plant, however, and is commonly found in winterizer fertilizers
sold in fall.
Look on the fertilizer package, usually on the back, for the guaranteed
analysis. This section tells more about the nitrogen and other nutrients
in the package. Look for controlled-release nitrogen in the product.
Controlled-release nitrogen, often referred to as slow-release or
perhaps extended feeding on the package, will release smaller amounts
to the grass over a longer period of time. This leads to more uniform
Examples of controlled-release nitrogen to look for on the label
include sulfur-coated urea, ureaform, coated urea, IBDU, and activated
sewage sludge. Also look for water insoluble nitrogen, or WIN. These
are all examples of good fertilizer sources for use on lawns. Although
more costly, controlled-release nitrogen fertilizers are highly
suggested for lawn use.
After purchasing a quality fertilizer, how much should be applied
to a lawn? Amounts are based on the nitrogen rate, which varies
according to the type of grass and maintenance level. An average
full-sun lawn in our area should receive about 3 pounds of nitrogen
for every 1,000 square feet of lawn area per season. Some should
get less, especially lawns in shady areas. Higher maintenance lawns
may need more.
Most individual applications should be around 1 pound of nitrogen
per 1,000 square feet. This early fall treatment could be higher,
in particular if some type of controlled release nitrogen fertilizer
is used. Fertilizer labels often have suggested setting guides and
also indications on the lawn coverage the bag will provide.
Whether fertilizing once, twice, three times or more a season,
early September is a key time. If the lawn is dry, fertilize right
after a rain or irrigate ahead of time for the best results.
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