Winter is a stressful time for your lawn. Temperature changes, drought, disease and winter weeds all impact your lawn's health in the spring. That’s why a winter lawn fertilizer increases your chances of a beautiful lawn come spring.
Compounding these stressors is that grass is dormant during winter months. At this point, metabolism slows and the grass turns brown to conserve nutrients. Essentially, your lawn is weak during the winter, so it is important to build it up with a winter lawn fertilizer.
Why Fertilize in Winter
Fertilizing during the spring and summer is a common practice that takes your yard to the next level. So why are you not applying winter lawn fertilizer?
Like our bodies have seasonal needs, lawn needs vary by the season. Different metabolic functions occur in the winter. So your lawn has winter needs that differ from summer ones. Also, your type of grass, and how it responds to cold weather, will affect its specific needs.
The take home message is that you CANNOT fertilize your lawn in the cooler months like you do in the warm months.
The most important step in selecting a winter lawn fertilizer is knowing your type of grass. If you live in the southern regions of the U.S., you likely have a warm-season lawn. This group includes Centipede, St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia and Bahia.
Warm-season grasses begin to go dormant at the first hint of cold weather. Then, remain dormant until well into the late Spring\Summer.
Best Winter Fertilizer for Warm-Season Grasses
Warm-season grasses are unique in that growth continues in the root system while the blades are dormant. Much of this is due to soil temperatures being warmer than air temperatures in the winter months. Winter lawn fertilizer benefits the actively growing root systems, which need potassium. Proper fertilization of root systems builds resistance to temperature, drought and diseases.
When selecting a winter lawn fertilizer for warm-season lawns, select one with high potassium. This is the last number in the N-P-K fertilizer composition. Avoid fertilizers that have high amounts of nitrogen. Nitrogen stimulates blade growth which isn’t needed in the winter.
Andersons 5-5-25 with Barricade is our recommendation for a winter lawn fertilizer for warm-season lawns. It has a healthy dose of potassium and a winter preemergent. This product keeps your grass healthy for the winter and also fights winter weeds.
Apply 8.1 pounds of Andersons 5-5-25 with Barricade per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Technically the ideal time is when soil temperatures approach 70 degrees. However, an easier rule of thumb is late Fall to early winter. Don’t forget to irrigate your lawn if there isn’t enough rain.
Best Winter Fertilizer for Cool-Season Grasses
Cool-season grasses are found in the central and northern regions of the United States. Common examples include Bluegrass, Fescue species, Ryegrass and Bentgrass. These grasses keep their green color much longer into the winter. Plus, they tolerate freezing temperatures much better than warm-season grasses.
In southern regions, ryegrass is used to overseed a lawn and provide a green lawn throughout the winter.
Cool-season grasses must be managed to give them a quick boost in spring. This makes your lawn the first in the neighborhood to turn green in the spring, and helps it fight off weeds.
Nitrogen favors grass blade development. Choose a winter lawn fertilizer with high levels of this macronutrient.
TurfGrassPro Blade Iron 15-0-0 provides the needed nitrogen, and also contains iron for a deep rich green color.
Application rates for Ferromec AC Liquid Iron will depend on your grass type. The key is to apply this product right before the lawn goes dormant for the season. This ensures that the excess nitrogen will be stored throughout the winter and available in the spring. The best time to apply is after you mow your lawn for the final time before cold weather sets in for winter.