Shortening days and cooler temperatures mean that fall is upon us. It also means that it is time to think about fertilizing your lawn and gardens. Though at first it may seem counterproductive to fertilize in the fall – since it is the end of the growing season – fall fertilizing is actually crucial to the survival of your turf and other plants throughout the wintertime.
Fall provides a period of time during which your plants can recover from the summer’s heat and droughts before winter strikes. The extra nutrients supplied at this time help fortify the plants to survive the winter. They encourage a strong root system so that your plants stay lush and green for longer, and have a quicker rebound in spring. Fertilizer also helps plants to store surplus energy reserves on which they can draw if needed during the cold months.
Know Your Fertilizer
There are many different types of fertilizer available depending on the kinds of plants you have. Most fall fertilizers use slow-release nitrogen in their mixes to provide a constant supply of this essential nutrient throughout the fall and early winter. This way, your plants are as healthy as possible before facing cooler winter nights they are not accustomed to.
Turf grass species require higher percentages of nitrogen than shrubs, trees and ornamentals. Nitrogen contributes to the vibrant color of the blades and promotes healthy growth. The fertilizer will do wonders in keeping your lawn lush and green all season long. Lawns of Zoysia grass often prefer slightly lower percentages of nitrogen (around 9 percent) but are still able to thrive with percentages up to 24%. St. Augustine grass needs a slightly higher percentage than Zoysia– around 15-20%. If your focus is fertilizing your turf, you don’t need a mix with much phosphorus, if any. Most turf grasses contain less than 5% phosphorus, and the grass grows extremely well. Potassium in your turfgrass mix should be around 10-15%. Mixes created specifically for Zoysia will generally have 16-17% potassium. A good formula for an all-purpose turf grass blend is 24-0-11, where each number corresponds to the percentages of N-P-K.
Your ornamental plants and shrubs require significantly less nitrogen than grass. This is because these plants have a lower leaf-to-body ratio–whereas the entirety of a grass species is composed of leafy green, shrubs have trunks and branches that require less chlorophyll and less rapid growth. If you plan to fertilize both your grass and your plants at the same time, an all-purpose fertilizer with a mix of 8-10-10 will satisfy turf, shrubs, ornamentals, and palms. You may see better results with more specific fertilizers, though. For turf and general plants, you can use a mix with equal parts NPK of 14-14-14. Then, fertilize your palms with a more specific mixture of 8-2-12. If your turf is completely Zoysia, you’re in luck. The percentages required by this grass species are quite similar to those that ornamental trees and shrubs need. You can save money and time by applying a fertilizer mix of 9-0-16 on both your plants and turf.
You can find these mixtures and more in stock in-person at our stores or online at our website. You’ll also find all the tools required to effectively apply your fertilizer over your lawn and garden beds. Stop by Big Earth Garden Supply today.