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Dormant Feeding Practice for Cool-Season Lawns

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

Dormant feeding has its share of supporters and critics. Many lawn experts say that as the last weeks of autumn descend into cool weather, you should apply a specially formulated potassium fertilizer to add winterizing nutrients and protect your lawn through the chilly months. Most agree that cold season grasses like ryegrass, fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass prosper from a Halloween feeding.

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Cool-season lawns can even be fed as late as November, using around a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of grass. If your lawn is comprised of warm-season grasses like centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, or Bermuda grass, it's best not to apply any fertilizer after September.

Dormant Feeding Can Speed Lawn Recovery

Grass plants love carbohydrates as much as people do. Carbohydrates help your lawn recover from heat stresses from summer, as well as bed the roots down for a long winter. The rule of thumb in dormant feeding is to make certain your lawn has stopped growing.

Cool-season grasses can be fed as late as December, depending on weather. So long as the ground is not frozen, northern-state lawns can continue to grow in soil as cold as 33 degrees.

Trace elements in a good winterizing fertilizer also spark new growth once the lawn emerges in the spring. Balance is everything. Nitrogen stimulates shoot health, deeper roots, and summer repair. Yet too much nitrogen can drop the carbohydrate content of the lawn, weakening its resistance to cold temperatures.

It's best to consult a lawn care expert in your region to determine the best winterizing formula given your climate, seed type, and temperature range. If you know a turf-maintenance expert at your local golf course, ask about their dormant feeding program, a common practice in northern states.


About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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