Dormant Feeding Best Practices

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By: Keith Perl, President

It is tough to maintain grass at any time. This year we experienced our August in September! 

As you recall, we had unusually cool temperatures in August. Be careful what you wish for! September made us pay the price. Most have experienced severe heat and in most cases 20+ days without rain. This has stressed the turf going into a time when the grass is supposed to rejuvenate itself. There has been extensive research that indicates that dormant feeding can be very beneficial.

So, what are the best practices for dormant feeding? First and foremost, you want to be careful not to apply this application to early. If you force growth late into the year, you risk the potential of lush top growth which can exacerbate snow mold issues through the winter and a weaker plant moving into spring. However, a properly timed application will yield huge benefits in helping underground plant parts (roots and stolon’s) to be strong. Additionally, the grass plants will be able to produce and store valuable carbohydrates.  These advantages will allow a better equipped plant to handle the stressors of the colder months ahead and prepare your turf for a strong spring.

Timing of the application should coincide with the plant almost going dormant. A general rule of thumb is that you can apply when you are done mowing for the year. When you are putting your mowers in the shop for the winter maintenance, you should be pulling out the spreaders for one last feed. At this point, you will not (in most years) see any additional top growth. You need to keep in mind that the plant will still function and grow underground while continually making food through photosynthesis. This process continues until the ground is frozen. This is why it is a great idea to provide food late into the year.

There are many fertility choices available and chances are, that if you select a product with some slow release properties you will see benefit.

Discuss this with your rep in order to make the best choice for your location and property.  

Photo credit: Earthway Products, Facebook Page