Last Call for Fall Lawn Fertilizer and Insecticide Applications
It may seem counterintuitive to be treating lawns and other property features with fertilizers and insecticides as the growing season is nearing a halt in the Midwest. However, lawn enthusiasts are likely well-versed on best practices and schedules for keeping grass and lawns healthy year round. A basic understanding of your property’s growth cycles and potential vulnerabilities, paired with knowledge of any prior disease and infestation concerns, should be the best indicators for valuable treatment options to keep a healthy lawn in every season.
While grasses, shrubs and trees are preparing for their winter dormancy, they are busy storing up all the necessary nutrients to carry them through their sleep and emerge healthy come spring. Most experts agree that fall fertilizing practices are the best offense, to ensure that nutrients are at their optimum growing levels; since growing is tapering off, whatever nutrients are not being used for growing are reserved to sustain grass in the cold weather. Fall is also a perfect time to reseed or perform any necessary lawn renovation, as it is the best time to get germination of new grass.
To optimize the benefits of fall fertilization, it is important to perform while the ground temperatures are still relatively warm, the soil is still absorbing moisture and nutrients are reaching the root level. While Wisconsin’s seasons are always unpredictable, mid to late November is generally the cutoff point for applications to be beneficial. This applies also to weed control, as weeds are in the same energy-absorbing mode as grasses and plants, and drinking up an herbicide in the fall will ensure their scarcity in the spring.
In addition to being the optimal time to provide necessary nutrients through fertilization and to apply herbicides to tackle weeds, fall is also the time to take action against insects and pests on the property to avoid infestations. Any trees and shrubs that were home to aphids, caterpillars or other pests in the past growing season should be treated in the fall to prevent problems next year. Additionally, brown spots in the lawn may be signaling a lawn grub population; any attempt to control lawn grubs in the fall will lessen their ongoing underground lawn destruction in the spring.
While many homeowners are tempted to cut fertilizing and insecticide treatments in the fall to avoid the cost, performing these steps are actually cost saving measures in the long run, as grasses are much stronger and healthier in the spring as a result. A little extra effort towards year round maintenance schedules as well as preventative measures will reduce the time and resources required for a year round showcase lawn.