Everyone knows that dispersing fertilizer in your lawn during the spring is a good idea. But did you know that fertilizing in winter is incredibly beneficial? By giving your lawn one last helping of nutrients before the cold weather sets in, you’re really giving your turfgrass a leg up. It’s actually one of the most important parts of a good lawn maintenance routine. Here’s why.
“Winterizer” refers to the blend of fertilizer used for the last application of the season – i.e., before the start of frost and cold. The secret: nitrogen. It’s one of the three macronutrients that your grass needs. Macronutrients are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Together, this trifecta of minerals helps your lawn grow green and strong. Nitrogen gives grass the green color. Potassium and phosphorous help the roots go strong and deep and make your lawn tolerant of stresses like extreme weather and drought. Cool-season grass needs an extra dose of nitrogen before winter. If purchasing fertilizer yourself, be sure that the fertilizer is for cool-season grass. Here in Michigan, we are solidly in the cool zone. This means our lawns use grass varietals like Kentucky bluegrass and fescues. Warm-season grasses, like our neighbors to the south use, go dormant when the weather gets cooler and can’t tolerate our colder temperatures. A warm-season winterizer will have extra potassium, which will not help your cool-season grass.
Winterizing your lawn is all about helping it get through the cold season and make it to spring. The goal is to apply your final fertilizer application after your last mow of the season. At this point, the lawn should be done growing for the year. At this point, however, it’s important to keep in mind that the lawn is not dormant. Rather, it is preparing to go dormant. Instead of directing its energy to growing the blades of grass, it will focus on its root system. When you winterize, your grass will respond to the fertilizer treatment by taking in the nitrogen and storing it for winter. It uses the stored nitrogen in early spring while coming out of dormancy. If you’re looking for a quick green-up in spring, this is the secret. If you’ve ever wondered how some neighbors’ lawns look immaculate the moment spring arrives, it’s probably because they winterized their lawn.
Choose a winterizer fertilizer that has a higher proportion of nitrogen. If you’re not familiar with fertilizer labels, here’s the breakdown. Each bag will contain a series of three numbers, like 32-0-4. This tells you the three macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in that exact order. So in that example, the fertilizer would be ideal for your winterizer treatment because it contains no potassium but quite a lot of nitrogen.
The other thing to make certain of is that you do NOT use a quick-release fertilizer. Quick-release fertilizers can actually burn out your lawn and are better in the spring. Slow-release fertilizers are typically granular, which means they will dissolve slowly over time. This sort of fertilizer is gentler on your turfgrass’ digestive system, so to speak. Fertilizer also comes in organic or synthetic forms. If you’re not sure which one to use, ask your lawn care services technician!
You’ll need about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet for your final fertilizer application of the year.
If finding the correct winterizer and dispersing it yourself feels like too much work, don’t fret! The experts at Go Green Lawn & Tree Care can take care of it for you! We’ll winterize your turf as part of our 7-step lawn care program, so your turfgrass is prepared for the upcoming cold season. We’ll work with you to understand your lawn’s needs and make sure to find the correct mix of macronutrients for your unique situation. We pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality lawn care to customers in the metro Detroit area. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call us at (248) 387-6296 or leave us a message online here. And don’t forget to check out our blog page, where we post monthly articles on lawn care and pest control topics! You can also connect with us on social channels! We’re active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!