5 Tips to Remember for Your Fall Lawn Fertilization

When it comes to fall lawn fertilization in Gainesville, one size does not fit all. Lawn fertilizer programs and mixes that benefit St. Augustine lawns are wasteful and may even harm Zoysia lawns, even if they're next door neighbors. Also, soils in different areas of town may differ in terms of soil pH and plant-available nutrients such as sand and clay do, which is why we always do a soil analysis through UF's IFAS department here in Gainesville to assure our lawn spraying program is the right mixture for your soil and lawn. 

For our Gainesville DIY'ers, 5 quick tips for your lawn are:

1. Don't guess which fertilizer is best.

Read the label and know your lawn. If you don’t know what’s in the soil or the turfgrass you have, how can you accurately prescribe a fertilizer program that’s most beneficial? When in doubt rely on soil tests to show you the way, especially for new or struggling properties coming under your care. Personnel at the Alachua county extension office can help you with turfgrass identification and soil tests. Their services are very reasonable, and they can also help you read the report, too. 

2. Now’s the time to fertilize for Gainesville Lawns. 

Gainesville grass is recovering from July and August’s high temperatures and it’s beginning to store carbohydrate reserves, which help it to resist winter injury and disease, and serve as a source of energy for root and shoot growth the following spring. Many professional Gainesville lawn application companies like us offer two late-season fertilizations. They apply one pound of quick-release nitrogen in late summer and another application of Nitrogen in late October or November. The mid- to late-fall application delivers better winter color, enhances spring green-up, and increases root development.

Research at the University of Florida has shown that root growth of turfgrass species occurs during the fall after shoot growth has slowed down substantially. This is because roots grow quite well when soil temperatures are cooling off from our brutal summers. 

3. Look before you treat.

Heed the following caveats when making fall applications of fertilizers. If the turfgrass is obviously not growing and likely dead, don’t waste your fall fertilizer. It’s not going to bring the grass back to health. Install plugs or new sod instead.

Also, don’t apply fertilizer without watering them in or making sure rain is in the forecast because you will be wasting money. While most fertilizers require water to infiltrate the soil, a heavy rain can wash away the fertilizer before it enters the soil, so make sure it isn't a downpour. Don't fertilize to close to water sources or storm drains. Fertilizer will find its way into the water adding nitrogen and potassium to Florida's liquid ecosystem. This can lead to algae blooms and have other negative affects.

4. Fertilize only during growth.

Warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine, bermudagrass, and zoysiagrass are throughout Gainesville.

St. Augustine grass is the most common lawn grass in our region. It is popular because it is durable and recovers rapidly with proper care. Fertilize when it is actively growing, but do not apply nitrogen in December, January, or February.

Zoysiagrass grows by both stolons and rhizomes. It goes dormant with the first frost. Do not apply nitrogen to zoysiagrass after the end of November, advises our local cooperative extension. By contrast, zoysias.com says that while fertilizer requirements are generally lower for zoysia than many other lawn kinds of grass, they do benefit from a fall application as well. 

5. Timing always matters

Fertilization in the Spring, Summer, and Fall are very important - but having the right lawn application at the right time is what makes the difference. Pre-emergent weed controls, preventative insecticides, and proper nutrients all have to be applied with the proper timing to avoid a waste of your time, money, and resources.

Finally, Florida law prohibits applying more than one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for any application. Follow the rules.

As always, The Master's Lawn Care is proud to serve Gainesville, Alachua, and Newberry with our Lawn Application and Pest Control Program. Please call or text our office at (352) 378-LAWN for a free lawn consultation. 

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