Have you noticed red tree leaves everywhere? This is definitely the turn of the season, and autumn is upon us. Let’s hope there will be an extended period of frost-free weeks for gardeners lasting well into November, because there’s some serious catching up to do!
Sometimes, I don’t get around to feeding my lawn in spring or summer. There are several reasons for this, but my excuses don’t really matter — the lawn is hungry now and would appreciate a good meal. If you’ve been in a garden centre recently (to pick up some plants on sale), you might have noticed the bags of autumn lawn fertilizer. The first three weeks of October are prime times for feeding turfgrass, and an autumn feeding is the most important meal of the growing season. Cool air temperature in early October slows the growth of grass blades, allowing nutrients to strengthen roots for better winter survival. A significant portion of the autumn fertilizer is absorbed by grass plant crowns and stored for early spring release, just when you want to see a quick green-up (but don’t want to get out in the still-chilly air to feed the lawn).
The nutrient analysis in autumn lawn fertilizers is low in nitrogen (so not to stimulate blade growth), and high in potassium and phosphorus to build disease resistance and cold hardiness. It’s clear that this autumn feeding brings many benefits, particularly when the gardener is unreliable with respect to feeding schedules. (And you know who I’m talking about.) If you’re taking advantage of the season to aerate the lawn (to improve drainage and increase oxygen in the root zone) and repair damaged areas (either with seed or sod), do those chores first and apply the autumn fertilizer last, even as late as early November if the ground isn’t frozen. Your lawn will love you for it!