Fall Is A Good Time To Fertilize Your Lawn

The summer is winding down and the days are getting shorter. Sigh. Time to fertilize your lawn. Taking a few steps in the fall will help your lawn avoid disease and will ultimately save you money.

From This Old House:

Early in September, grass is recovering from a long hot summer and may be coming out of a drought-induced dormancy, so you’ll want to give your lawn a shot of nitrogen to push blade growth. A fertilizer with a formula of 20-8-8 will get it growing again. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended rate of application. Some people treat weeds and insects at this time, but I think that unless there are signs of trouble or a history of problems, don’t apply anything but fertilizer. While this September dose of fertilizer is important, an application at the end of October or early November is essential.

Don’t forget about your shrubs and trees too!

Fall Fertilizing [This Old House via Shakyard]
(Photo:kusine)

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  1. Kogita says:

    Lawns are a waste of time, money, and water. A better alternative is moss! softer, won’t die if it’s left alone for a while, and eco-friendly.

  2. Illusio26 says:

    I don’t think i would every want a lawn of moss. A nice grass lawn looks and feels really good.

  3. mupethifi says:

    use natural fertilizer, safe for humans and pets and of course, our enviroment.

  4. rdm24 says:

    Lawns are a waste of resources.

    Sure, keep a bit for recreation. But replace as much as you can with a native-plant garden, and your water/fertilizer/pesticide use will go way down.

    Out here in California (and much of the rest of the country) you can get grants from municipal water districts to replace your lawn with more water-friendly landscaping.

    Moss won’t work in every climate, and not over large areas!

  5. Vicky says:

    @rdm24:
    Homeowners’ associations regularly prohibit their members from making environmentally-conscious choices about their lawn and landscape. Xeriscaping, native grass lawns, rain barrels, outdoor clothes lines, and even some varieties of shade trees are regularly prohibited. Many newer communities have covenants so restrictive that the residents themselves are not even allowed to overturn the regulations – it requires the intervention of the original housing developer.

    It is easy to say “don’t buy a house in a neighborhood like that,” but if you are trying to educate people who have never considered the environmental impact of their landscaping choices, it is not helpful to chastise them for their choice of home.

    If you believe that traditional lawns are a waste of resources as I do, take a moment to contact your local, state, and federal representatives about this issue. You may not have the solution – I know I don’t – but you can help start the discussion.

  6. AcidReign says:

        My St. Augustine lawn gets fertilized when I cut the grass, and the clippings bio-degrade. And when I run the mower in early December and chop up the leaves. I’ve never put commercial fertilizer on it, or watered. And, except for one small spot that gets lots of afternoon sun, the lawn is still alive and green, having survived the worst drought and the hottest August on record. It has gotten a nice drink over the past couple of days, over 4 inches. Thanks, Humberto!

  7. EtherealStrife says:

    My crabgrass doesn’t require fertilizing. Or watering. It’s ecofriendly!

  8. Christovir says:

    Aye, as Acidreign mentions the best way to fertilize your lawn is to let the grass clippings/leaf clippings bio-degrade as they fall. A good mower will chop them fine enough as to be unnoticeable, and you don’t have to worry about disposing of bagged clippings/leaves (which if they are going to a landfill, is criminally wasteful, IMHO.) If you avoid watering your lawn, it will be healthier as the roots will go deeper until they find a stable source of water, rather than relying on superficial surface water.

    Personally, my lawn is walled in and I have 3 rabbits that keep it perfectly trimmed at 2 cm – I have not mown in over a year. They “fertilize” it for me too!

  9. Fertilizing in September AND October/November might be overkill or too close together, particularly if you let grass clippings mulch in throughout the year. (Mulching in grass clippings works out to the equivalent of one fertilizer application per year.) But it’d depend on your climate and your grass.

    And let me take my opportunity to once again urge overplanting with clover, which is a legume and fixes nitrogen in the soil. We don’t fertilize at all and the clover keeps the grass nice and green, even in drought. (We don’t water, either.) And brings in bees.

    (And yeah, native plants better than lawn and take soooooo much less care.)