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Turf Tips:  Fall Feeding


Because grass is a cool weather crop, fall is its optimum growing season. Fall fertilizing produces strong roots and also makes the food (stored in the roots) for next spring's growth spurt. It's the most important feeding of the year.

And because the ground is still warm and competing weeds are on the wane, grass seeds germinate faster and better than in spring's cold soil. The real secret of an enviable lawn is a regular light broadcasting of new grass seed just as the hot weather is ending.

Each time you apply fertilizer, the grass grows faster and greener. A healthy lawn can withstand insects better and crowd out weeds, so fewer pesticides will be needed.

If you fertilize only once a year, it should be in early fall.

If you fertilize twice, add the second feeding in spring.

If you fertilize four times a year, feed very early in spring, mid-spring, early fall, and late fall.

A late fall fertilizing (which should be all organic fertilizer to carry over to spring) makes the lawn green up earlier in spring and helps thatch to compost and melt away.

The organic or slow release fertilizers supply nutrients at a slow steady rate and result in more even, healthier growth of grass. Though they cost more, they are worth it. The best fertilizers have some quick release pure chemical nutrients and a high percentage of the slow release ones.

Some organic fertilizers are made from chemicals, others are from substances that were once alive, such as manure, chicken feathers, and sewerage sludge and such. There is also coated, slow release fertilizer, which lasts a long time and is usually used in spring.

A fine lawn prefers a neutral pH of about 6.5 to 7 which can be determined by a simple soil test. Some grass varieties such as fescues will stand it lower or more acid. If a soil is too acid, it is corrected by the addition of lime which supplies the needed calcium to make the soil "sweet."



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