23 November 3, 2010
It’s hard to believe that it is November. Another season for gardening has come and gone but it won’t be long before the seed catalogs arrive in the mail.
Over the last week or so a common lament from many customers has been that the fall has zoomed by and they are behind on getting fall yard work done. I think that the biggest lament has been that customers have not done their last application of fertilizer.
The last application of lawn fertilizer is one of the most important steps in having a nice lawn. In the late fall, the roots of your grass absorb a tremendous amount of fertilizer. The roots then go into a period of growth. The roots that form in the fall are the roots that put up new blades of grass in the spring. This helps to thicken up the lawn and will allow the lawn to literally force out the weeds. In the last few years, researchers have found that the nitrogen in lawn fertilizer is stored in the roots. In the past, the thought was that any nitrogen applied in the fall was just a waste of fertilizer because it was not absorbed by the roots. The fear was that it would also make the grass grow in late fall instead of “going to sleep” for the winter The nitrogen that is stored in the fall helps the grass to spring back to life quicker in the spring. All things considered, a fall application of fertilizer is very important for the health of your lawn.
Fall is also the best time of the year to apply lime to your lawn. Lime neutralizes the acidity that occurs in our New England soils. When the soil in your lawn is too acidic, fertilizers do not easily dissolve into a form that can be absorbed by the grass roots. This means that there can be fertilizer in the soil and your lawn cannot use that fertilizer. By applying lime in the fall, the acidity is neutralized by spring. This allows your lawn to get off to a rapid start. Keep in mind that weeds can grow easily in an acidic soil. If you have a problem with weeds in your lawn, an application of lime will make it easier for your lawn to grow quickly and force out any weeds trying to grow in your lawn.
One fertilizer company is running a television ad advocating that you cut up the leaves on your lawn and allow the leaves to decompose into the soil. Of course, this works best when you use their fertilizer to speed up the process of decomposition. I think there are a few things to consider before you do this on your lawn. In order for this to work successfully, you need to cut up those leaves into fine pieces. This is best accomplished by using a mulching lawn mower. If you have a lot of leaves on your lawn, it is probably going to be next to impossible to get all those leaves mulched into pieces small enough to have all those pieces decompose by spring. Also, by adding those pieces of leaves in the fall, you will be making your soil more acidic. They never tell you that you should be adding lime along with the fertilizer. My advice is to get most of the leaves to the compost pile and any remaining leaves can be cut up and left on the lawn as long as you apply fertilizer and lime to your lawn this fall.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.