Hand on green lush grass

Fall Fertilization for the Home Lawn

Beautiful lawns are often the envy of neighbors and passersby in Florida. Many people give up on their lawns because they think it is too difficult or complicated to do things properly. At Duda Sod, we are here to encourage you to do a little research and jump in with both feet. Turfgrasses should cover the soil uniformly. Growth that is too rapid or too green can cause issues in the long run, so don’t confuse speed with healthy efficiency. Healthy turfgrass will have a uniform density, be a pleasant shade of green, and grow at a pace appropriate to its conditions. Of course, things will be easier to figure out if you are able to get your soil tested. With the proper fertilization program, regular watering, pest control, and mowing schedule, you will have your lawn in tip-top shape in no time.

Why is fertilizer often necessary?

Growth and appearance depend on essential macronutrients like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). The only elements not absorbed from the soil are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. A soil test is helpful because though most pre-made fertilizer formulas contain N-P-K, some turfgrasses lack other macronutrients like calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). Micronutrient deficiencies can be addressed through soil testing as well. Fertilizer can be purchased in pre-made formulas which will work for most lawns, but if you are not experiencing success, it may be time for a customized mix.

Fertilizer Formulas Explained

N-P-K, as mentioned above, is the common formula used in fertilizers. Each nutrient is represented by a number. Nitrogen is first and helps blade and foliage growth. Next, comes phosphorus, which aids in root growth and development. Potassium is last, but not least, since it is responsible for boosting cell function. Potassium also helps your lawn absorb trace elements.

What makes fall a good time to fertilize?

Now is the time to build up the root systems of your grass and plants so they will be ready for the spring growing season. As temperatures begin to drop in September, grass goes through a recovery process. If summer has been particularly dry, it may be waking from a dormant state. A nitrogen boost will aid in blade growth. A fertilizer formula higher in nitrogen, like a 20-8-8, should do the job. Just be sure to follow manufacturer’s directions.

Late October or early November is the time for a phosphorous boost. A 13-25-12 formula stimulates root growth before winter. This will not only improve how quickly the lawn regenerates in the spring, but will also help protect it from disease and drought down the road.

Is there a time I should avoid fertilizing?

  • Since some grasses may be dormant through the winter, using fertilizer will do little to no good. Understanding the specific type of grass in your lawn can help you avoid spending extra money unnecessarily.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. If it is going to rain significantly within 24 hours of application, you are better off waiting. The fertilizer needs time to make its way into the soil and root systems.
  • Newly planted turfgrass needs time for root development before fertilizer application. As root systems grow, they are better able to absorb the nutrients from the soil.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Fertilizer is effective when used properly. How a lawn grows, looks and lives can be dependent on getting the fertilizer formula correct. Too much fertilizer may also have environmental effects. Water systems are affected by nutrient run-off, which is why fertilizing during times of heavy rain is banned in some localities. On the flip side, not enough fertilizer will have a limited impact on the health and appearance of your lawn.

Duda Sod is here to answer questions and provide guidance on proper lawn maintenance and fertilization programs. We’ve been growing and caring for Florida’s lawns for over 40 years. You can trust us to evaluate soil conditions to determine the best fertilizer formula to help your lawn overcome the challenges of Florida’s climate.

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