Fall Lawn Fertilization
According to turfgrass scientists, the best time to fertilize lawns in Maryland is the fall. This is the time of the year when the grass recovers from summer heat and drought stress. Fertilizer applied from late August through early October promotes increased density of the turf without promoting excess shoot growth. Late fall fertilization from mid-October through early December promotes increased root growth. It also increases carbohydrate storage for the grass to survive the winter and prepare for the following spring’s new growth.
Here are some University of Maryland guidelines for fertilizer applications.
If you are not presently on a lawn fertilizer program, now is a great time to get started. A lawn professional has the expertise to apply fertilizer in a proper manner using the recommend rates. They are also aware of the environmental impacts of misapplied fertilizer. A professional has properly calibrated equipment, knows to blow granules off of sidewalks, driveways and patios and back onto the turf. Properly applied lawn fertilizer does not runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. Properly fertilized lawns actually protect the Bay because a well-fertilized lawn provides dense vegetation which stops sediment loss which in turn carries nutrients from storm water into Bay tributaries and ultimately into the Bay.
Mark Schlossberg is the President of ProLawnPlus in Baltimore, MD. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1977 with a B.S. in agronomy. He is the President of the Maryland Association of Green Industries, and past president of the Maryland Turfgrass Council.