Fertilizer in Fall

Is your lawn hungry?  After a long summer of bugs and fungus, it could be.  September is an ideal time to feed turfs, because the cool nights and warm days favor its growth and development.  Because bluegrasses naturally send out more rhizomes in fall than in summer, lawn recovery is enhanced with fall fertilization.


Apply a slow release nitrogen product to the turf now at the rate of 1.0 lb. of actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft.  To calculate the pounds of fertilizer product needed to deliver 1.0 lb of actual nitrogen, divide the pounds of nitrogen/1000 ft desired by the first number in the fertilizer analysis expressed as a percentage. Next, simply multiply the fertilizer needed/1000 sq. ft. by the number of 1000 sq. ft. units in your lawn.  For example, if 1.0 lb. N/1000 sq. ft. is desired on a 5,000 sq. ft lawn and you are using 28-3-6 fertilizer, divide 1.0 by 0.28 to determine that 3.6 lbs should be applied to 1,000 sq. ft., then multiply 3.6 lbs. times 5 to determine that 18 lbs of fertilizer should be applied to the lawn.

If your lawn is heavily infested with weeds, select a “weed and feed” type fertilizer.  What is heavily infested?  If more than one third of the surface area is covered with weeds, it makes sense to use a weed and feed product.  If you don’t have that many weeds, it is more effective to spot spray with a liquid weed control product such as Speedzone, Weed B Gone or Trimec.  Be sure to read and follow all label directions.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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