Now that summer is finally fading away (hopefully), now is the time to fertilize cool-season tall fescue to strengthen plant and turf roots so that it comes out strong next spring. Late fall is the most important fertilization of the season for fescue. As the warm season turf is slowing down and ready to go dormant, fall is when fescue does the best. Now that the leaves are starting to fall, it’s also important to make sure that they are off the grass before we come out and spray your Late Fall Application. Just like the other applications, we recommend watering the treatment into the soil within a day or two of us coming out.
For fescue turf that has been seeded earlier this fall, this fertilization provides a nice boost of nitrogen for growth, along with other soil nutrients for plant health. After not growing much during the winter, early spring warmth will then stimulate earlier spring green-up with the nutrition provided from the fall fertilization. “Fall fertilization is the foundation for a successful turfgrass fertility program,” says John S. Kruse, Ph.D, a research agronomist with Koch Agronomic Services, LLC. “Winter survival and spring green-up depend, to a significant degree, on a sound fall fertilizer application, particularly when combined with timely cultural practices.” We also will carefully spot-treat any existing winter annual broadleaf weeds with a liquid post-emergent herbicide at this time of year. There usually are not many broadleaf weeds now, and we have to be careful not to harm any new fescue seedlings.
We DO NOT apply a fall pre-emergent to fescue turf in the fall, as this would harm fescue seeding. We assume that homeowners will at least overseed in the fall, so we do not apply pre-emergent to fescue as we do on bermudagrass or zoysiagrass. About the only grassy weed that comes up in the fall may be some annual bluegrass. It usually blends in OK or is not much of an issue in healthy fescue turf. If it is, then we do offer a supplemental treatment of Prograss Weed-Control, which can be safely applied in early December without harming new fescue seedlings.
Fall is not only an ideal time to fertilize turf, it’s also an ideal time to give trees and shrubs that important boost as the winter months near. Late Fall is the ideal time for deep-root fertilization, so we’ll start this service sometime in late November and on into December.