Most people falsely assume that spring is the best time to implement a fertilization and weed control program. Using excuses like, “it’s gone this long, I’ll just wait and start next fresh next year” or ” Why bother, the summer is almost over anyway” just to name a couple.
The truth is that the best results are achieved when starting treatments in autumn. Turf grass responds quickly to fertilizer applications starting in early fall. Fertilizing at this time helps to repair damage that may occur during the hot and dry or the hot and humid summer months.
Damage will appear in hot and dry months with dormancy and die back with stress brought on by extreme drought and poor soil conditions. In warm and wet months the high humidity will cause fungus to grow and spread throughout lawns. This will appear as spots or rings of dead and discolored grass amongst apparently healthy turf. In either case, when the turf’s vigor slows, the weeds will appear and quickly spread.
A high quality slow release fertilizer is the best defense against the damage described above. An early fall application of fertilizer will stimulate new growth and grass will quickly spread into the areas damaged. This is an essential first step in “responsible weed control”.
If a period of prolonged stress has brought weeds into the site or if you are staring a program for the first time, weed control will need to be obtained. The cooler autumn temperatures will allow herbicides to work more effectively on the growing plants without the risk of volatilization. With the weeds gone the turf-grass will be able to spread into these areas without competition.
Turf-grass is perennial and will go dormant for the winter months. Much like an animal before hibernation, grass will take in as much food as possible before going to sleep. When the weather cools and top-growth stops, the root system is still alive and growing. It is here that the extra nutrient is stored. A winterizing fertilizer and Core Aeration is the best way to achieve a deep rooted healthy stand of turf. The nitrogen stored in the root system along with residual nitrogen left in the soil will cause the turf to green up early and stimulate growth. It’s this early season “jump start” that becomes the defense against midseason weeds.