We are winding down our fall turf fertilization for our LawnAmerica customers, and transitioning into our fall weed-control. Warm-season turf such as bermudagrass and zoysiagrass are slowing down their growth with the cooler fall temperatures. They actually begin to prepare for winter dormancy at this time of year, slowing down their topgrowth and sending food down into the root system for storage over the winter. So we intentionally back down on nitrogen fertilization in fall, so that we are not pushing the turf to be super green and grow too much. Applying too much nitrogen and applying it late in the season is detrimental to the turf for many reasons.
- Excessive nitrogen fertilization in mid to late fall will weaken the root system, which is bad for turf preparing to over-winter.
- Winterkill of bermudagrass is more likely to occur on turf that has had excessive nitrogen applied in the fall.
- Excessive nitrogen at this time of year can lead to higher rates of Spring Dead Spot Disease next spring.
- Excessive nitrogen at this time of year is just wasteful and not good for the environment, as warm-season turf does not need it or utilize it fully.
So we don’t want a super green bermudagrass or zoysiagrass as we head into late September and October. Don’t judge a lawn service at this time of the year as to how green they can make a lawn. If I wanted to make a lawn green, I could do it, by applying a lot of nitrogen and having you water like crazy. But this is NOT the right thing to do. What we want is a moderate green color, and to go a little lean on the nitrogen into the late fall. And I’m sure you are tired of watering and mowing your lawn by now also!
Now Fescue is totally different, being a cool-season grass. The most important fertilization of the season for fescue is in mid to late fall. So instead of applying fall pre-emergent, we apply a heavy dose of granular fertilizer to our fescue lawns in fall. We don’t apply a pre-emergent to fescue in fall either, as this will negate any fescue seeding that needs to be done in the fall.