fertilize my lawn in the winter?

Should I Fertilize My Lawn In The Winter?

It’s a complicated question that does not provide a definitive answer. There are many factors to consider when fertilizing your lawn in the winter.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of winter fertilization and what can occur if it is applied during winter.

When Should You Apply Winter Fertilizer To The Lawn?

It may be called “winter fertilizer” but in reality, it’s fall fertilizer. Winter fertilizer is applied just before the start of the winter and before spring. It is one last feast for the plants before winter comes.

The best months to fertilize your lawn are November and then again in February. However, If you live in the southern parts of the United States, apply fertilizer between early September and mid-October.


Why Do We Apply Winter Fertilizer?

Winters are tough for plants. Grass grows well during summers and the growth decreases gradually in fall until it stops in winter. Your lawn goes under a lot of stress during summer. Insects, pests, weeds, rigorous walking, and the burning heat itself cause a dent in lawn health which needs repairing.

During the winter, summer grasses go dormant while winter grasses become pale and their growth slows down. However, the grassroots must remain alive in order to revive during the spring season.

As winter brings frost that blocks plant absorbing quality and there is less sunlight. So plant roots need to store nutrition to survive in winter. Winter fertilizer provides the plant with that nutrition.

Winter fertilization can help with the following: 

  • Helps grassroots stay alive during winter even if they are covered with frost or snow bed
  • If you have done reseeding as winterization, winter fertilizer provides food for the seed and helps it in the germination process
  • Allows plants to store and use nutrients when there is less source of food
  • If you live in the southern parts of the U.S., winter fertilization protects plants and grass from going pale or wilted during the winter season
  • Help the plants to fight winter severity.

What Happens If You Fertilize In The Winter?

Fertilizing in winter usually doesn’t help. As the frost covers the grassroots, fertilizers don’t reach them. If you do apply fertilizer during the winter, you may notice a thin layer of fertilizer on the soil. You are wasting your money!

Also, plants and grass don’t actively grow during winter.

If you apply fertilizer in the winter like in December or late November, the plants will become too lush to survive winters. Frost will cause them to wilt down and they will become feasting home to pests and fungus.

Instead, apply fertilizer right before the winter start and when it ends. This is beneficial to your lawn in many ways. Not only your plants will survive tough weather but the soil quality will also remain intact. Also, in the spring your lawn will become a sight to behold.

Which Fertilizer Is Best During The Winter Season?

When you aim to fertilize your lawn in winter, choose the best fertilizer. A good fertilizer is rich in nitrogen and potassium which are great food for plants. The ratio of both should be 1:2. Nitrogen gives the plant fuel for energy. However, potassium allows them to gain enough strength to defend themselves from weather severity.

Fertilizers with more Potassium ratio are better for warm-season grasses.

How To Apply Winter Fertilizer To Your Yard?

Here are some suggestions for how to use winter fertilizers

  • Clean out your lawn before applying fertilizer. Pick up fallen leaves and twigs, clean out debris, and remove weeds.
  • Check your soil quality. This helps you in deciding the more appropriate application of fertilizer. You may call your local lawn care provider for a professional checkup.
  • Apply fertilizer when your lawn grass stops growing and there is a yellowish tint in the blades.
  • Your winter fertilizer always has recommended application printed on its back. Make sure you use less than that.
  • Apply the fertilizer evenly and in parallel patches. Make sure to cover the area. You can use an automatic or manual sprinkler for that.
  • Sprinkle some water afterward so fertilizer gets absorbed in the soil. Just sprinkle a little water. For proper watering, wait for 24 hours so the fertilizer can settle down in the grass and plant roots.
  • If you don’t apply water at all, the fertilizer can burn down your lawn grass. Ouch!

You will notice visible results after one week of applying fertilizer.

Is It Necessary To Apply?

Winter fertilization is an important part of lawn care in winter but it may not be necessarily needed. You may not need fertilizer during the winter if:

  • You fertilize your lawn throughout the year
  • Have done proper fertilization during the summer months
  • You mix compost with your soil regularly
  • Your soil already has enough nutrient and potassium ratio

Remember, that winter fertilizer is like an “aid” to your plants. Your lawn may not need it at all and that is fine.

A Difference Between Fall and Winter Fertilizer?

Yes! But don’t take the terms in a literal sense. Winter fertilizer is the one that you use for “winterizing your lawn”. It has more potassium ratio as compared to fall fertilizers as plants need more nutrition to fight and survive winters.

If you live in the Northern parts of the United States where winter is harsh, you apply to winterize to your lawn. However, in southern parts of the United States, your lawn grass will stay green and alive during winters too so apply fall fertilizer.

In a nutshell, winterizer is more suitable for cool-season grasses and fall fertilizers are appropriate for warm-season grasses.

What Happens To An Overly Fertilized Lawn?

Unless you are not planning to give your lawn “death by fire”, don’t overfertilize!

If you have used too much fertilizer, all your money and efforts may be wasted. Excessive fertilization can cause permanent damage to your lawn.

Dry burnt dead grass

If the grass is burnt, you may need to reseed the entire lawn. However, up to three days after fertilizing, there is a chance that you may save your lawn from going dead. 

For that, you have to wash up all the fertilizer by watering your lawn generously. If you have used powder fertilizer, use a broomstick to dust away as much as possible. Last, sow new seeds so they can absorb excessive nutrients.

If you’re looking to keep your lawn healthy, winter fertilizers are a great way to do so – just make sure to apply in the correct amount and season. Doing so can be difficult and requires time and effort, but it is well worth it. Good luck, gardeners!

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