Fertilizing in Fall
As summer comes to a close and we anticipate the start of fall, it can be easy to start thinking about lawn care in terms of raking instead of mowing. Spring is the season of growth and fall is the season of decline. In between, however, summer can do a real number on your lawn. The regular heat and sporadic rain can put a lot of stress on your grass, leaving it really depleted as fall comes into season. That's why fall is actually the most important time of the year to fertilize!
In this post, we are going to take a look at why fall is the best time to fertilize your lawn, as well as some tips on how to do it right.
Why Fall is the Best Time of Year to Fertilize
When the summer heat is at its peak, it can really take a toll on your lawn. As the temps start to drop and the days get a little shorter, this reprieve gives your lawn a fighting chance and opportunity to start repairing damage.
Cooler overnight temperatures lead to lingering dew in the mornings. This added moisture helps your lawn to better absorb fertilizer, giving you better results than if you were to try it in, say, July.
The transition period from summer to winter gives your lawn an opportunity to build up its stamina before the winter freezes start coming regularly. Fertilizing is a way to boost this process and help your lawn ward off the effects of those those seemingly-endless Michigan winters.
The ability of fertilizer to help support root growth sets you up for the best results in spring. Because spring often arrives in fits, stutters, and false starts, it can be difficult to discern when to really start your spring lawn care routine. When you fertilize in fall, however, your grass can roll with the unpredictability of spring and get going before you feel safe in starting your regular lawn maintenance.
When To Apply Fertilizer
Ideally, you will want to apply your lawn fertilizer about two-to-three weeks before the ground freezes. Yes, this can be an inexact science, as predicting the weather is a notoriously troublesome endeavor. There are some approaches you can take, however.
While the exact date of a first frost in the area can vary, there is usually a pretty good range. One way to plan your fertilizer date is to find the first frost date and go from there.
In Michigan, you can generally be safe applying your fall fertilizing in mid-September.
The Best Time of Day to Apply
Even though fall sees the mercury start to drop, we can still get some really sweaty Septembers. That's why you'll want to put down your fertilizer either in the morning or in the early evening. Hot sun can work against your fertilizer. By applying outside of the hottest part of the day, you give your fertilizer the best opportunity to help your lawn.
Fertilizing and Mowing
A good mowing can get your grass height to the optimal level for fertilizer absorption. So, before you fertilize, mow the entire area and make a point to leave some grass clipping on the lawn. The presence of those grass clippings, especially in conjunction with the fertilizer application, has real benefits for root growth.
Fertilizer and Rain
Intuition might say that applying fertilizer before a rain is good because it's like feeding and watering your lawn. IT'S NOT!
If you fertilize before a heavy rain, you run the very real risk of runoff. Instead, check your forecast to ensure you will have some dry weather on deck before you fertilize. Further, after a rain, you'll want to wait until your grass dries before applying fertilizer to ensure optimal results.
It can be easy to associate fertilizing with spring, as that is the season of real growth. The truth is, after a long growing season and months of really warm temperature, your lawn needs all the help it can get to endure a long winter and be ready to go in spring. For that reason, fall is the best time of year for applying fertilizer. The aforementioned tips should help set you up for success.
If you would rather leave it to the professionals, E.P.M. Lawnscape and Supply offers both commercial and residential lawn fertilization services. To get started, simply contact us online or at (517) 990-0110.