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Best fertilizer for fall lawn care

How to keep your lawn healthy and lush

When fall comes around, leaves begin to fall and certain summer plants start to die. As the temperature changes, certain types of grass may thrive, while others may struggle to keep growing.

If you find yourself dreading the season changes every year because of what it does to your lawn, you’re in luck. Not only can a good fertilizer protect your lawn from turning brown or dying out, but also there are several tried-and-true ways to keep your lawn looking its best throughout the year.

Different types of lawn fertilizer

Made from either natural or synthetic materials, fertilizer helps plants grow by supplying them with the necessary nutrients. However, not all fertilizers do the exact same thing or have the same impact. Some are better at helping plants or flowers grow, while others can make grass lush and strong. Below are the three most common types of fall fertilizers.

  • Nitrogen fertilizers: These are useful for the middle stages of a plant’s lifespan. They also help bring out the vibrant colors every gardener or homeowner loves. Plus, they help grass grow more quickly.
  • Potassium fertilizers: The potassium in these fertilizers helps your lawn grow deeper roots, which in turn protects it from the elements or sudden changes in weather. If you see any yellowing in your plants or grass, it may be due to a lack of potassium.
  • Phosphorus fertilizers: Best for the early stages of a plant’s life, phosphorus fertilizers help new grass establish its roots and grow strong. It’s also useful for the flowering and seeding of plants.

Different fertilizers have higher or lower nitrogen, potassium or phosphorus concentrations, so choose one that works best for your lawn care needs.

Why do lawns need fertilizer in the fall?

It’s important to fertilize a lawn before the cold season for a couple of reasons. For one, the extra nutrients in fertilizers strengthen the grass’ root systems and helps the grass grow, promoting a healthier lawn for the coming year. For another, fertilizing the lawn before winter hits helps the grass get through the harsher, chillier season.

Although the best time to fertilize a yard varies based on region and grass type, you should apply fertilizer four or five times throughout the year. However, most lawns benefit from fertilization around September or a few weeks before the first frost. So, if you plan to only fertilize the lawn once, then the best time is during fall, around six weeks before the first frost in your area.

Best fertilizers for fall lawns

Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Lawn Food

With enough fertilizer to cover up to 15,000 square feet, depending on the size of the bag, this fertilizer helps treat damage caused by summer heat and strengthens your lawn’s root system for winter. It’s most effective when applied in November or a couple of weeks before the ground starts to freeze. With this fertilizer, you can stimulate root growth in any type of grass.

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GreenView Fall Lawn Food

For lawns up to 5,000 aquare meters., this affordable fertilizer uses a slow-release nitrogen formula to feed the lawn up to 8 weeks. It is phosphate-free, which is beneficial in areas where there’s already an excess of phosphorus in the surrounding land or water.

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The Andersons Premium New Lawn Starter Fertilizer

Great for new sod or recently seeded areas, this fertilizer has a well-balanced blend of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus for a lush, healthy lawn. It’s most effective when applied during spring or fall. Plus, it helps strengthen the root system of any type of grass. However, due to its granular design, it does require routine watering.

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Milorganite Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilizer

This 32-pound bag of nitrogen fertilizer is perfect for lawns, flowers, shrubs and trees. It’s long-lasting with up to 10 weeks of lush, healthy grass. The added iron content also helps ensure a vibrant lawn. Plus, you can use it year-round even in droughts or cold weather. Because it’s slow-release, it also doesn’t require watering after application.

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GreenView Fairway Formula Fall Lawn Fertilizer

With a slow-release nitrogen formula that promotes healthy root growth, this fertilizer will keep your lawn verdant and healthy even through frigid winters. It works steadily for up to 12 weeks to help your grass grow without the need for extra clippings. The entire bag covers up to 15,000 square feet. The product also comes with a customer satisfaction guaranteed promise.

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Tips on fall lawn care

To achieve and maintain a healthy lawn, make sure your grass has the right nutrients and pH level it needs to grow and thrive.

Nutrients: Many fall fertilizers help improve the lawn’s health through the addition of nutrients and microorganisms. While most of these microorganisms appear naturally in the soil, some areas have a deficiency, which contributes to a weaker root system.

pH level: Along with providing the right nutrients, it’s important to check the pH level of your lawn. As a general rule, a pH level between 6.0 and 7.2 is ideal for most cool-season grass species. If the pH is too high or too low in the grass, it can impact how efficiently it absorbs the nutrients. Use a pH meter to check the current pH level in the soil. Then, if you need to adjust the pH level, consider getting a lawn fertilizer to rebalance it. Nitrogen fertilizers have the most impact on the pH level, whereas potassium fertilizers have virtually no impact on it.

For best results, aerate the lawn prior to fertilizing it. After fertilizing the lawn, wait a few days before using a pre-emergent weed killer to stop the growth of winter weeds. 

Fall lawn care essentials and accessories

Here are a few other things you may need for a better, healthier lawn this fall.

Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard DLX Broadcast Spreader

This ready-to-use fertilizer spreader comes with a control panel that allows you to adjust how much fertilizer you spread across the lawn. It holds enough fertilizer to cover a 15,000-square-feet lawn.

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Landzie Lawn & Garden Spreaders

This sturdy, metal mesh spreader is lightweight and very durable. This rolling basket spreader comes with a 24-inch and a 44-inch basket and helps break up chunks in the fertilizer while you spread it around your yard. In addition, the machine is weather-resistant to prevent rusting and easy to maneuver.

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Scotts Whirl Hand-Powered Spreader

Perfect for smaller yards, this handheld spreader can spread anything from fertilizer to seed evenly. It can even melt ice during winter.

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Tenacity Turf Herbicide

Made for turfgrasses, this herbicide effectively kills weeds such as clover, crabgrass, dandelions and more. It absorbs easily into the soil and can prevent future weeds from growing.

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HIYUTOY Garden Hose

For a healthy lawn, you need to water it regularly. This water hose comes with a 10-function spray nozzle and is perfect for routine watering and helping fertilizer sink into the soil. It comes in 50-foot and 100-foot options.

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Yard Butler Multi-Spike Lawn Aerator

An aerator is essential for breaking up hard clumps of soil and allowing essential resources to get through to the root system. This, in turn, makes the lawn stronger and healthier. This aerator is convenient for quick aeration and smaller patches of grass.

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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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