Fall Fertilizer Tips and Advice


Fall is here and it’s time to fertilize. Why fertilize your lawn in the fall? Taking the time to fertilize your lawn in the fall will strengthen the roots of your plants and lawn, giving them a solid foundation to thrive next spring. The first thing to understand about fertilizers is the formula, which is represented by three numbers, like the common 5-10-5 formula. The first number represents nitrogen, which promotes the growth of grass blades and foliage; the second number corresponds to phosphorus, which promotes root growth; and the third with potassium, which promotes the functioning of cells and the absorption of trace elements. But should you fertilize your lawn? When ? And with what? Let’s start with your lawn.

When to apply fertilizer?

When to apply fertilizer?

A week after you mow the lawn for the last time of the season, apply a slow-release granular fertilizer (in most parts of the country). Although at other times of the year there are reasons to choose a fast-acting liquid fertilizer, in the fall – about a week after the last mowing of the lawn – it is best to apply a granular fertilizer to slow release. While liquid fertilizer provides a sudden burst of nutrients, granular fertilizer slowly feeds the lawn. In most parts of the country, this is exactly what you want. In very cold regions, choose a fertilizer specially designed for winter protection, a fertilizer with a high nitrogen content. If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm place, you already know that fertilizing is a year-round affair. For you, autumn is not so important. (It was you who did it !)

Fertilizer for trees and shrubs:

Fertilizer for trees and shrubs

Fall is also the perfect time to fertilize your lawn, trees and shrubs. In my opinion, all trees and shrubs need fertilizer because most of them are in mulch beds that consume nitrogen as they decompose. Additionally, each fall we rake the leaves from these beds, depriving the plants of nutrients that the decaying leaves would traditionally release. To compensate, I recommend applying one to three pounds of slow-release nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of bed and cultivating lightly. (To know the exact amount of fertilizer you will need, calculate the square footage of your flower beds and consult your local garden center). I prefer to fertilize the trees in late September and early October to promote root growth. These nutrients will still be present in the soil in the spring when the plants begin to grow. If you have a tree or shrub that is not flowering well, a dose of super phosphate will help promote flower growth. However, if the plant is not located in the right place, all the super phosphate in the world will not make it bloom.

Use a fertilizer spreader:

Use a fertilizer spreader

If you can use a lawn mower, you can use a lawn fertilizer spreader. You will notice that on the packet of fertilizer you purchased, the manufacturer lists the ideal number of granules to apply per square foot. You can set the spreader to emit precisely that amount, but here’s a superior method: Set the spreader to disperse half the recommended volume, run the spreader across the lawn in one direction, then take- the in reverse, touching the areas you initially missed. Since the effects of the fertilizer are limited to the area immediately surrounding where the granules hit the ground, the key to success is even dispersion. But when in doubt, under-fertilize. Keep in mind these additional tips for using and maintaining a fertilizer spreader: Fill the spreader in the driveway, not on the lawn, to avoid spilling and over-fertilizing a particular area. For the spreader to work properly, the tool and the fertilizer granules must be dry. Wearing gloves is a smart precaution to take when handling fertilizer pellets. When the job is done, clean the spreader before putting it away. Otherwise, the metal components may rust in the off-season. Also note that if you end up with a partially filled bag of fertilizer, it is best to close it tightly and store it in a dry place. Exposed to air, the fertilizer hardens and becomes unusable.

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