From the Desk of Ed Hume: Fall and Winter Lawn Care

November 18, 2009 at 12:00 AM Leave a comment

It sure seems like an odd time of the year to be talking about lawn care!  But according to researchers, this is one of the best times of the year to fertilize the lawn.  Feeding your lawn now with the proper type of lawn fertilizer encourages root growth, and as they say, “The better the root growth, the healthier and sturdier the top growth next year!”  So when do you feed the lawn and what type of lawn fertilizer do you use?

I like to pin point garden projects with important dates because I think they are easier to remember.  So with Fall feeding, I associate with Thanksgiving as being a great time to feed the lawn.

If the grass blades are frozen, do not feed the lawn.  The reason is that as you walk across the frozen grass blades they break, leaving footprints in the lawn.  To me that looks rather ugly, and the footprints will remain for several weeks.  However, if there is snow on the lawn, many consider that an ideal time to fertilize because as the snow melts, it tends to carry the lawn fertilizer deeper down into the root zone.

What type of lawn fertilizer do you use?  Don’t use just any old type of lawn fertilizer.  Be certain to use a Fall or Winter type of lawn food.  The reason for this is that the Fall and Winter types of fertilizers are slow release formulas.  In other words, they stimulate very little top growth and instead encourage root growth.  After all, who wants to be out mowing the lawn at this time of the year?  But at the same time, feeding now will encourage better greening of the lawn over Winter, so the lawn should look really nice.

Many researchers say this is maybe the most important feeding time of the year.  This is based on the fact that Winter feeding has proven to encourage better root development.

It’s best to use a lawn spreader to spread the fertilizer, as one will get a much more even distribution of the lawn food.  For this job you can use a drop spreader, cyclone spreader, or a small hand held cyclone spreader.

I am often asked about “thatching” the lawn at this time of the year.  I really suggest that you wait until Spring to do this task.  In the Autumn, the grass hopefully is not growing much, so if you thatch it, it will take weeks and maybe even months for the lawn to recuperate.  Consequently, the lawn will look like the Mojave desert for most of the Winter.  I would suggest you wait until early Spring to thatch, when the lawn is about to begin growing again.

If you want to punch some holes in the lawn for better drainage or aeration, I think Autumn is a good time to do it.  Why?  Because the soil is a bit more moist and it is easier to penetrate the turf with an aerating tool.

Remember to wash out and clean up your spreader after you have made your application of Fall or Winter lawn fertilizer.  In fact, this is a good time to clean up and sharpen all of your garden tools so they’ll be ready for Spring.

Sincerely,

Ed

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