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Why Fertilization Is More Important Than Ever

Why Fertilization Is More Important Than Ever

The lawns and landscapes throughout our area have come out of a brutal winter with above-normal stress levels. The cold temperatures and high amounts of snow created very unfavorable conditions for plant material, and the effects of the winter are lingering into the spring growing season. The winter conditions caused plant material to suffer from compaction due to heavy snow piles, loss of essential gas exchange processes, and possible desiccation (drying out) caused by the wind and salt content in the soil. All these problems cause some immediate and potential long-term injury. The biggest problem of all—a majority of this damage isn’t visible yet.

Normally, spring is the time of year in which plants begin to rejuvenate and grow as they prepare for the summer stresses just around the corner. So far, this spring is proving to be much different!

Effects of Lingering Winter Weather

This has not been a normal spring. It is taking much longer than normal for the weather to warm up consistently. As we’ve discussed in a previous post, soil and air temperature are major contributors to the physiological processes typically happening this time of year. The below-average temperatures have delayed buds from developing and leaves from emerging. Some of the flowering trees (Magnolia in particular) had their blossoms destroyed by late frost.

Frost also affected the tips of some grasses, causing yellowing throughout some lawns. Recent heavy rains may have affected the root systems by robbing them of much needed oxygen and other gas exchange, causing stunted roots. Without proper root growth the plants will not attain the root length necessary to maintain its water collection ability during the summer months. Without water, particularly under summer conditions, plants wilt and eventually die.

Summer problems can be hard to diagnose without looking back at the weather conditions from the previous 3-6 months. It is important to provide the necessary nutrient blend to the soil so that when the conditions are right and the plant needs the energy, it is available. A regular fertilization program is essential to keeping our landscapes as healthy as possible, especially with unpredictable weather working against it.

Curious as to how fertilization can bring your lawn “back to life?” Share your story in the comments!