Landscape & Irrigation

September 2017

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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26 September 2017 Landscape and Irrigation LANDSCAPE AND TURF MAINTENANCE W hile some areas of the U.S. are still experiencing summer- like temperatures, there's no doubt about it — fall and winter are fast approaching. If you're in the lawn care business, that means it's time to think about preparing your customers' lawns for Spring 2018. And that preparation should include a fall fertilizer application. All turfgrass lawns in the U.S. go through some level of winter dormancy before "waking up" in the spring. To prepare for that dormancy period, the plant's physiology transitions from an actively growing state to one where it is storing carbohydrates for later use as an energy source. Growth at the shoot level decreases and root growth increases, making it possible for the plant to increase its energy reserves. By fertilizing lawns in the fall, you're providing the turfgrass with nutrients it can store away for the next growing season. "Fall fertilization allows turfgrass to gradually transition in and out of dormancy," said Chris Derrick, field sales agronomist for Koch Turf & Ornamental. "Both cool-season and warm-season turfgrass species can benefit from a fall fertilizer application, but timing that application appropriately is key to developing healthier, more attractive turf." Sarah Mack, sales and operations manager for Central Services Co., Inc. of Waukesha, Wis., said that fall fertilizer applications help her customers' lawns get as healthy as possible before the grass goes dormant. "By enhancing the lawn's energy reserves in the fall, you're going to see quicker green-up in the spring for a better looking lawn earlier in the year," she explained. "Fertilizing in the fall improves shoot density and root growth. The grass is able to start off the following spring in good shape, and if it's strong and healthy to begin with, it's more likely to stay that way throughout the growing season." Timing is everything What's the best time to apply fertilizer in the fall? It depends on weather patterns and climatic conditions that affect temperature and its role in plant function. Fertilization shouldn't necessarily be limited to certain month; rather, the key is to fertilize lawns before the soil freezes, as frozen soils are not able to efficiently absorb the applied nutrients. On the other hand, applying excessive fertilizer too early in the fall may encourage the plant to burn through its energy reserves too soon, making it less able to tolerate stresses later on. So, what is the best time for fall fertilization? When grass is still green, but growth has slowed down or even stopped altogether. Mack said that her crews (in Wisconsin) typically schedule their fall fertilizer applications in October. "In the fall, you want to apply fertilizer when the soil is still somewhat warm but the ambient temperature is cool," Mack Fall Fertilization Proper timing and professional products can reap future benefits PHOTOS PROVIDED BY KOCH TURF & ORNAMENTAL

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