NDSU Extension - Morton County


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September 16, 2019 Time to Fertilize Your Lawn

Renae Gress, Extension Agent/Agriculture and Natural Resources


Dates to Remember:

October 1 – Powerful Tools for Caregivers series begins – register now

October 14 – Stepping On series begins – register now


Time to Fertilize Your Lawn

Did you know the best time to fertilize your lawn is now? It’s true!

Fertilizing in the fall will:

  • Repair any damage that occurred to the lawn over summer
  • Lead to a thicker turf and a stronger root system this fall
  • Help the turf to tolerate stresses such as drought, disease and winter
  • Lead to a quicker green-up next spring
  • Control perennial weeds

Lawn fertilizer can be applied any time from early September to the early part of October. Fertilizing too late can stimulate late season growth and make it more susceptible to winter injury. A soil test can indicate the best fertilizer for your lawn, but a standard winterizer lawn fertilizer is recommended in most cases.

What type of fertilizer is best?

  • A fertilizer bag has three numbers, showing the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate and potash. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient, look for a fertilizer with at least 25% nitrogen. Fertilizers with slow-release nitrogen provide a more consistent release of nitrogen to the lawn this fall and next spring but are usually more expensive.
  • Phosphate is abundant in our soils and is rarely needed in established lawns. Potash helps the lawn tolerate stress such as winter. Most winterizer fertilizers contain 5-10% potash.

How much fertilizer do I apply?

  • Always follow the rates of the fertilizer package. The rate of fertilizer application should not exceed 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn area. This would be 4 pounds of a (25-4-4) fertilizer or 6 pounds of a (18-24-6) fertilizer.
  • Reduce rates of fertilizer in shady spots. These often grow more slowly and only need half as much fertilizer as sunny spots.

Other tips?

  • Water your lawn after fertilizing. This increases the effectiveness, prevents fertilizer from burning the grass and reduces the likelihood the fertilizer will run off.
  • For more uniform distribution of fertilizer, apply in 2 different directions. For example, apply half going north-south directions and the other half going east-west directions.
  • Sweep up any fertilizer granules spilled on sidewalks or driveways.


For more information, contact Renae Gress at 667-3340 or e

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