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Is Fall Fertilizer Necessary?

Why Fertilize my Lawn and Trees in the Fall?

Basipetal Translocation of Photoassimilates, (that’s why!)

Ok, that’s just a boring way to say your plants are now manufacturing food and moving it to the roots.

Your grass and tree roots will use some of the “food” during the winter to maintain plant health, but most of it is held in reserve for Spring growth.

As the temperature begins to drop in the Fall, the tops of the plants (grass blades and tree leaves) begin to go dormant.  However, out of site, underground, the root systems continue to grow and develop.  The roots will continue to grow all winter as long as the ground is not frozen, which makes fertilization an important last step of the season in a successful lawn and tree care program.


What kind of Fall Fertilizer to Use on Lawn?

Late fall fertilizer should be a quick-release blend. During the majority of the lawn care season, controlled-release (or ‘slow-release’) fertilizers should be used so the grass receives the nutrients over an extended period of time. However, with winter coming, a fast release fertilizer is best.

Organic-based fertilizers are preferable. (We include as much organic material as possible in our fertilizer applications).


Does Fall Fertilizer need to be watered in?

No, a late fall fertilizer application does not need to be watered in. The temperatures are cool and rainfall, as well as dew, will work the material into the soil.


When to Fertilize a Lawn in the Fall?

Just to clarify, two fall fertilizations are best for a lawn – one early and one late in the fall. This article is only referring to the late fall treatment.

Be sure you don’t put the late fall fertilization down too early. You don’t want to encourage top-growth – that is, you don’t want to encourage the grass blades to grow at this time of the year.

Dates can vary for any lawn care treatment due to different weather patterns. In general, late fall fertilization should occur when the growth of the grass blades slows down but the grass is still green (and the ground is not frozen).

Fall begins on September 22 or 23 each year – this is too early for your late fall fertilization. Typically, in our area, the earliest we would recommend applying the treatment is the middle of October – and it can be done through December – as long as the ground is not frozen solid.


When to Fertilize my Trees in the Fall?

The timing of a fall fertilization of trees and shrubs is also from mid-October through December. The best way to fertilize trees and shrubs is with a Root-Zone fertilization.

Root-Zone treatments distribute to the nutrients in the immediate vicinity of the root system. The liquid fertilizer is injected, under pressure, 2-4 inches under the soil and is readily available to the plants.


Do Tree Spike Fertilizers Work?

Not well. The problem with the fertilizer spikes is that they just dissolve into the small section of soil where the spike is inserted. The root zone will end up with ‘dots’ of nutrients – not an evenly fertilized root zone.


Fall Fertilizer vs. Winterizer – what’s the difference?

‘Winterizer’ fertilizer is simply an informal word that indicates the fertilizer blend is designed for use on lawns in the late fall. The term is synonymous to ‘Late Fall Fertilizer’.


Fall Fertilizer with Weed Control

If you have lawn weeds, you can treat them at the same time you fertilize your grass. The weed killer will take longer to work at this time of year but, it can still work. The weeds need to be actively growing and most products need to be applied when the temperature is above 40 degrees. Always read the label and follow all instructions.


Lawns and trees that have had a late fall fertilization will survive the winter season better and green-up earlier than plants that were not. Fall fertilized plants will have stronger root systems and will also be better prepared to resist damage from diseases and insects.

The benefits are that your lawns and trees will look greener and more lush than lawns and trees that do not have the late season feeding.

Fall fertilizer is necessary. In fact, plant experts believe the most important fertilizer application is in the fall.  So, while you are preparing for Thanksgiving and the Holiday season, don’t forget to feed the plants!

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