Landscape & Irrigation

L&I17Sep

Landscape and Irrigation is read by decision makers throughout the landscape and irrigation markets — including contractors, landscape architects, professional grounds managers, and irrigation and water mgmt companies and reaches the entire spetrum.

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www.landscapeirrigation.com Landscape and Irrigation September 2017 27 explained. "We try to ensure that air temps have been around 55 degrees for three or four days. That way, the soil is still warm enough that it can pull in the fertilizer's nutrients but cool enough so you're less likely to get a growth surge that will require another mowing." A formula for success Choosing the right fertilizer is integral to a successful fall fertilizer application. That said, you shouldn't necessarily apply the same fertilizer formulation in the fall as you did in the spring. In the spring, you're trying to grow more grass shoots; in the fall, you're seeking better root establishment. "That means you should be shifting to a fertilizer blend with more potassium," said Derrick. "However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't apply any nitrogen in the fall. Consistent feeding is key, regardless of season — except for dormancy, of course. Slow- and controlled- release fertilizers provide nutrients gradually, making them an ideal choice, especially in the fall." According to Derrick, Koch Turf & Ornamental's Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs) can provide proper fertility slowly over an extended period of time to assist with the root development process. The nutrients these fertilizers supply remain in the soil longer, giving turfgrass roots more opportunity to absorb them as needed. So long, in fact, that some lawn care managers have been able to reduce or even eliminate early spring or "break dormancy" fertilizer applications. "Specifically, in cool-season turfgrass regions, EEFs can often sufficiently feed the plant up until its time of summer stress," said Derrick. "However, weather plays a major role in turfgrass management, so you should always be aware of the potential need for supplemental feeding." Central Services Co. uses Koch's UFLEXX stabilized nitrogen fertilizer. Mack says the formulation Central Services Co. uses on its customers' lawns depends on the year and the lawns themselves. If the lawn is struggling after the hot summer months, they put UFLEXX fertilizer down in its granular formulation. "If it's applied as a granule, it dissolves appropriately so the roots can take it up rather than the fertilizer getting washed away," she said. "Granular fertilizers assist in root growth. The nutrients get through the entire plant so it's able to exhibit stronger growth and fill in any thin areas of the lawn where it wasn't previously thriving. In the spring, once the grass is doing better, we can apply a liquid fertilizer that's quickly absorbed by the grass blades for additional green-up." At your service While everyone agrees that applying fertilizer in the fall is a good idea, there are complementary services and practices that can also happen at the same time, helping improve revenue and improve results. For example, core aerating a lawn in the fall prior to applying fertilizer provides more air to the turf 's roots so that they can properly exchange the necessary gasses to function. "With its added benefits, aeration can assist the roots during their stage of increased growth and carbohydrate storage," said Derrick. "That said, aeration should not happen too late in the fall so that the holes created don't stay open throughout the lawn's winter dormancy. I'd recommend aerating earlier, during the transition from summer to fall for that reason." Applying a weed control product in the fall can also reap many benefits. However, as with fertilizer, timing is critical. "If you want to control weeds, the proper timing of that control agent should determine when to apply both it and the fertilizer," said Derrick. "It's common for fall pre-emergent herbicides to accompany a fertilizer application, simply because it's more efficient to do both during the same visit to save time and labor." There's another reason to combine a pre-emergent application with a fall fertilizer application. While weeds tend to thrive during the warm summer months, fall's cooler temperatures weaken them, making them more susceptible to herbicides. Better turf, happier customers The most significant benefit of a well timed, quality fertilizer application is happy customers whose lawns inspire envy throughout the neighborhood. "Fall fertilizer applications encourage healthier turf that's easier to maintain and enjoy," said Derrick. "And lawn care companies that take the time to carefully choose the right fertilizer and apply it at the best possible time will have more satisfied customers. In this business, success can be traced back to positive word of mouth, so those satisfied customers will tell others, who then have a good likelihood of becoming customers themselves." Said Mack, "Using the right product and sticking with it makes a tremendous difference in lawn quality and appearance. We often get calls from our customers' neighbors. They say, 'I'm not happy with my lawn care company, but my neighbor says you maintain their lawn and it looks great!' That makes all the pre-planning and scheduling worth it." Article provided by Koch Turf & Ornamental. For more information, visit kochturf.com.

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