Fertilizing your lawn in fall is important because it strengthens plant roots, providing a base of health over the winter until spring arrives. The quality of this fertilization depends upon a number of factors, though. To garner the most from your fall fertilization, follow the tips below.
The most important aspect of any fertilizer is the formula, which is represented by three numbers. The first number represents nitrogen, the second signals the amount of phosphorus in the formula, and the third stands for potassium levels. Nitrogen promotes blade growth, phosphorus supports root growth, and potassium helps with cell growth and mineral absorption. A common fertilizer formula is 5-10-5.
After summer, your grass is probably suffering from a drought-induced dormancy period, so you will want to find a fertilizer heavy in nitrogen to re-grow grass blades. A 20-8-8 formula is perfect for fall fertilization. Spread the fertilizer over your yard first in late September. Another application in late October or early November is essential, but the formula used should be closer to 13-25-12, as the extra phosphorus will stimulate root growth through the winter. This will cause a quicker greening of the grass in spring.
With your grass covered, turn your attention to plants. Perennials can benefit from a 0-20-0 phosphate formula spread around their roots and into the soil. Trees and bushes should also be fertilized, as they use up a lot of nitrogen when they decompose. Thus, a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer will work wonders on these plants, and the formula will still be in the ground come spring. This fertilization can be done along with your first lawn application in late September. If you have a shrub or bush whose flowers are not blooming to their full potential, a super phosphate complex similar to the one used on perennials will aid in flower growth.