You may wonder whether it is necessary to give winter lawn fertilizer to your grass or not since they will enter the dormancy phase during the winter months. Actually, you can offer the fertilizer four to five weeks before the season arrives. And surprisingly, it will benefit them in preparing for freezing temperatures.
However, you must know the winter lawn fertilizer schedule as the wrong ones will have adverse effects, such as triggering the growth of fungus and disease. In addition, timing errors in giving the fertilizer will make the benefits wasted as the grass cannot optimally absorb the nutrients.
Therefore, we would like to share tips on keeping your grass thriving with winter lawn fertilizer. Without any further ado, let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Winter Fertilizer for Your Lawn
- What is Winter Fertilizer?
- Why Fertilize in Winter?
- Tips for Winter Lawn Care In Snow Covered
- Tips for Winter Lawn Care In Little Or No Snow
Winter Fertilizer for Your Lawn
Like other beings, your lawn needs nutrients to have a healthy lawn and support its growth. One way to provide for its growth needs is to provide winter lawn fertilizer. But before that, you must know what winter fertilizer is and its benefits for your lawn. Moreover, finding out when to apply winter fertilizer and which type of lawns you have is essential. It will also help you decide the best winter fertilizer for your grasses.
What is Winter Fertilizer?
It is a fertilizer given before winter or in the late fall to prepare your lawn for the cold winter. But before you add them to your yard, it is crucial to know when to apply winter fertilizer.
The ideal lawn fertilizer schedule starts in September (early fall) and ends in mid-November (late fall). But of course, it depends on where you live. The further north, the earlier you have to apply it.
During these months, the soil still warms, and the roots are actively growing. In addition, fall offers a humid morning to help your turf optimally absorb nutrients for winter preparation. This rule applies to both cool-season and warm-season grasses.
In addition, you can also give fall fertilizers around four to five weeks before applying the winterizer. It will stimulate the root growth and prepare the soil for winter lawn fertilizer addition.
Nonetheless, don’t give the fertilizers too early for your grass. It will trigger snow mold and diseases in the early spring because it grows lushly. You don’t want to mess up your efforts throughout the fall and winter, do you? Also, late fertilization is not recommended because the ground has frozen; thus, the lawn will not benefit from the nutrients of your fertilizer.
Why Fertilize in Winter?
Since your lawn goes through a lot in summer, it is better to let it rest and regain its energy in the fall by offering fall and winter lawn fertilizer. As we mentioned, winter fertilizer will nourish your lawns, thus strengthening and supporting their root system growth. It also allows the rhizomes, stems, and stolons to store the nutrients for the following spring, especially carbohydrates.
Furthermore, the best winter lawn fertilizer for your lawns has a nitrogen to potassium ratio of around 2:1 or 1:2. Nitrogen is vital to restore nutrients, mainly carbohydrates. This macronutrient will ensure the survival of your lawns throughout the winter.
Meanwhile, potassium strengthens their immune system to fight stress and molds and keep them strong in the cold season. Additionally, choose quick-release and water-soluble winter fertilizers for easy absorption by your lawns.
Tips for Winter Lawn Care In Snow Covered
After reading our previous sections, you may think snow is bad for your lawn. Well, that’s not true. Instead, it protects the dormant plants under its roof.
Snow is porous, thus, allowing the oxygen exchange between the roots and the air, allowing them to breathe despite being covered in snow. The culprit is the icy ground that can block the oxygen supply to the roots under the soil. Hence, it is harmful to your lawns.
1. Nitrogen Is A Must!
Even though nitrogen absorption will decrease or even tend to stop when the grass shuts down in the winter, it is necessary to provide them with nitrogen for the next season. Lack of nitrogen will make your grass less nutrient, making it susceptible to disease.
To avoid such an event, mulching your lawns back while mowing is recommended. You can also do grasscycling and offer winter fertilizer with nitrogen and potassium in the fall months, from September to mid-November. The recommended fertilizer ratio is 2:1 or 1:2, respectively. Make sure the nitrogen content in the fertilizer is at least 10%.
2. The Shorter, The Better
It is great to see lush grasses in summer, but that’s actually bad for them in the fall. Tall lawns will increase the risk of snow mold growth due to poor aeration. Thus, it builds up the moisture under the soil, which is the favorite condition for mold.
Therefore, the shorter the lawn, the better for them. We recommend mowing the grass up to 2.5 inches tall. It will improve the air movement between the air and the soil as the barrier has been decreased.
3. Proper Aeration Before Winter
When it comes to aeration, have you ever wondered why this is so important for grass in your yard? Without good aeration, the soil where the grass grows will be much more compact without sufficient porosity.
As a result, water will easily pool on it and freeze when the temperature drops. Of course, it will kill them instantly. In addition to helping the penetration of water, porous soil will accelerate the absorption of nutrients. Now the question is, how to provide good aeration for your lawns?
First, water them evenly, then grab your pointed sticks. Then, lightly poke the soil with them to make small holes in the soil surface. It will decrease compactness, allow the ground to breathe, and exchange oxygen with air.
4. Fall Leaves To Provide Organic Matter
Instead of removing all the fall leaves, you can use them to mulch your lawn. Although not all leaves can make mulch, some work best to nourish the grass and the soil. For example, oak leaves, beech leaves, and hornbeam leaves. They are a source of organic matter that will improve soil fertility. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s give it a try!
5. Introduce Pre-Emergent
We all know that pre-emergent is usually introduced in spring. However, suppose you have completed overseeding, and the grass thrives well. In that case, you can spray pre-emergent to prevent weeds, like Poa trivialis or rough bluegrass, from growing. This weed usually germinates in the fall, spreads rapidly, eventually dominates your yard, and suppresses lawn growth. In addition, the bluegrass can compete with your lawn to obtain nutrients from the soil. Therefore, pre-emergent is crucial.
6. Clean Up The Grass
It is the last part of winterization you cannot skip. Cleaning off the lawn from the sticks and leaves will open the barrier between the sun and the air on your lawn. Use a blower to get rid of the fallen foliage and then rake them later. Or, you can mulch them. But remember, only specific leaves can make an excellent mulch.
Tips for Winter Lawn Care In Little Or No Snow
If you live in the Southern parts of the country, you may never see a sleeping lawn as the temperatures are not too low and the snow is a little to none. You will need to continue pruning and edging the grasses to keep them in shape.
Hence, different conditions, different treatments. But relax! We have tips to help you manage your lawns below. Check them out!
1. Mowing Your Grass
While the grass is growing, it is important to even boost the grass growth. Besides, it also encourages horizontal development of the grass and makes them grow stronger. As you mow, you can also remove the weeds and pests that occur on your lawn. So, keep cutting the grass until it grows thick.
2. Watering Is Crucial!
Don’t skip watering! Provide at least half an inch of water per week to make them thrive over winter. Any less amount than that will make you lose the turf system.
Luckily, the water requirement is not too much. In case of rain, you don’t need to add more water. In contrast, offer more when you have a long drought. You can also reduce the amount by half in the winter.
Moreover, it would be great to install an automatic irrigation system, like a sprinkler, to help you fulfill their water needs. With such a system, you can easily set a schedule in case you forget to water the grass.
3. Take A Soil Test
Soil test applies to warm-season lawns as it does not need fertilizers during winter. That’s why, it makes a perfect time to check the soil nutrients and prepare for the following season’s fertilization schedule.
To examine your soil, take the soil sample 60 days before the fertilization to create a baseline. Any shorter than that may not show a correct result. You can check it using a soil analyzer sold on the market.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
When should I put winter fertilizer on my lawn?
The best time to add winter fertilizer to your lawn is in early fall, between October and November. However, the further North you live, the earlier you should apply winter lawn fertilizer to your grass. During this time, the grass will stop growing, but the roots below are still actively developing.
Is winter lawn fertilizer necessary?
Applying winter fertilizer is crucial to your lawn during winter. The purpose is to prepare them for the harsh winter when the temperatures can fall far below zero. However, applying it too late may trigger snow mold that will be an issue when spring arrives. Make sure you add the fertilizer in early fall to provide at least one month of active grass growing prior to the cold winter.
What is the difference between fall fertilizer and winter fertilizer?
You may hear about fall fertilizer and winter fertilizer. But, what’s the difference? Fall lawn fertilizer is a fertilizer you add to your lawn during the season to encourage root growth. It also prepares the soil and the grass for the addition of winter fertilizer later on. Moreover, it is best to apply when the soil temperature is around 70’F.
Meanwhile, winter fertilizer helps the root to prepare for severe cold weather. It also optimizes the absorption of nutrients and stores them before being used in spring. Between October and November, you can apply this fertilizer four to five weeks after adding the fall fertilizer.
Is it too late to fertilize your lawn in November?
It is okay to fertilize your lawn in November as the ground has not frozen yet. And in fact, it can benefit your grass as it allows them to store more essential nutrients, like carbohydrates in stems, stolons, and rhizomes.
Carbohydrates are crucial to protect the lawn from diseases and injuries that may occur during winter. However, you must ensure the lawn stops growing before applying the late fall fertilizer. Don’t add it too early if you don’t want to cause injuries to your precious grass.
Can I fertilize my lawn in December?
Basically, fertilizing your lawn in December is useless as the grass has now gone dormant. During this phase, they won’t be able to utilize the nutrients properly.
Besides, the temperatures in December start to get as low as zero, which means the soil is frozen, and the root stops growing. Hence, it is recommended to apply winter fertilizer from September to mid-November as the ground is still warm and the roots are actively developing. Paying attention to the lawn fertilizer schedule is vital so that you won’t make mistakes in applying them to the grass.