Extension agents say fall best time to fertilize
Fall is finally arriving after some brutally hot stretches this summer. What’s best for lawn care right now? K-State Research and Extension says fertilize and answers questions about it.
Q. Is it better to fertilize now or in the spring?
A. If you can, only fertilize once, September is a very good time to do that. There are a couple of reasons why it’s an ideal time. Usually after the summer heat and drought, lawns are ready for a good dose of food to recover with. And, the weather gets cooler now, so the turf can utilize the food better now.
Q. What is the best type of fertilizer to use on lawns?
A. Vigorously growing lawns use a lot of nitrogen. Nitrogen isn’t always readily available in the soil, so it needs to be replenished on a regular basis. There are three numbers you’ll find on a fertilizer bag. The first number represents the percentage of nitrogen, the second number is percentage of phosphorus and the third number is percentage of potassium by weight within the bag.
Q. What’s needed worst, phosphorus or potassium?
A. Most of our soils in Kansas have adequate amounts of phosphorus and potassium. So, nitrogen is usually the one that is needed the most by your lawn. When looking for a fertilizer for lawns, it’s important to go for the highest “first” number, and smaller second and third numbers.
Q. Are there different types of fertilizers to use?
A. There are a couple of different types of fertilizer categories based on the availability of the nitrogen. They are commonly known as quick release, which is a water-soluble form of nitrogen, or a slow release, which is a water insoluble type of nitrogen.
Q. Which of those is best to use now and why?
A. It’s important to look at the guaranteed analysis information. Usually, it’s on the back of the fertilizer bag or near the bottom of the front of the bag. For example, one has an asterisk that points down and says that 1.5 percent of the bag is slowly available nitrogen, out of the 16 percent nitrogen total. So, most of the bag is a quick-release fertilizer. This one would be ideal to apply this time of year because it will quickly feed the turf before we enter into the fall period and winter dormancy.