One of the absolute best things you can do for the health of your lawn is to apply winterizer. But what is the best time to apply? And what kind of fertilizer should you be using? What benefits will you see?
Many companies recommend applying lawn winterizer somewhere between October and December, depending on where you live.
There are three keys you can keep in mind when considering the timing:
- The grass is green but no longer growing.
- The leaves are off the trees (and preferable raked up!).
- The ground is not yet frozen.
Quite often this will all occur in November. As one one sage said, “Put your turkey in the oven and then go apply your winterizer.”
Back in the day, it was often recommended to apply a winterizer that had a high amount of phosphorous (the middle number on the fertilizer bag). The thought was that since phosphorous helped get grass established and roots built up at planting, it would also be wise to apply it in heading into the winter – to build those roots up.
However, studies have shown that’s not necessarily the best approach. Grass is in constant need of nitrogen (the first number on the fertilizer bag) to grow, but phosphorous and potassium, not so much. You should always fertilize by what your soil test tells you is needed.
So what kind of winterizer should you apply?
Apply one with a higher amount of nitrogen. Purdue University recommends between 1.0-1.25 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet. Consequently then, a typical winterizer formulation will look something like this: 26-0-3 or 25-0-6 – somewhere in that range. Obviously, if you’ve just done a soil test, and the results show that you need something different, by all means, stick to the soil test.
Here’s what will happen when you apply a good winterizer to your lawn. The primary benefit is that it will help rebuild your lawn by providing the nutrients needed to strengthen the root system. The result is that you are left with a healthier, thicker lawn when the following spring rolls around.
What does that look like in specifics?
- Your grass will have a larger root mass.
- The stronger root mass builds a tolerance to heat and drought stress.
- And a healthy grass plant can withstand attacks from insects and diseases with greater success.
- Winterizer will also green up your grass without causing a bunch of top growth. You may even find that you don’t have to fertilize as heavily in the spring.
If you experienced any heat or drought stress in your area this past summer, it most likely left your lawn thinned out in certain spots. Disease and insects feast on weakened areas like that – and so do weeds. You may have even overseeded in late August – September to fill in those bare spots. Your applied winterizer will now work to strengthen those new plants.
According to The Ohio State University, late-season fertilization helps maintain your lawn’s nice green color, jump starts the spring green-up process, all the while avoiding too much top growth. This allows the plants to maintain optimal levels of carbohydrates than when spring fertilization is used. This way your lawn looks good and it’s actually healthier.