The drought conditions endured by many in the U.S. this Summer took its toll on turfgrass. With Autumn in full force, now is the time to repair lawns so they can survive Winter. According to Advanced Turf Solutions, here are four services you should be selling to help turfgrass recover from drought damage.

  • Dethatching. A drought-damaged lawn needs moisture to recover, and dethatching makes it easier for the soil to absorb water. Removing accumulated dead grass, leaves, and twigs helps water to reach the root zone more efficiently.
  • Aerating. Likewise, aeration improves soil moisture by supporting water infiltration and reseeding if needed.
  • Reseeding. Many lawns this year may require reseeding. It’s best to dethatch before reseeding to ensure proper seed-to-soil contact and germination.
  • Fertilizing. Fertilization is another helpful practice for drought recovery. Be sure to wait to fertilize until drought conditions have been absent for at least two weeks, and use a fertilizer with a balanced nutrient ratio.

More On Fertilization

Advanced Turf Solutions offers these further general  Fall fertilization tips:

Timing Of Application. The best time to fertilize is when the grass is still green but no longer growing (putting on top growth). This typically happens after temperatures drop and the first frost occurs. The goal is to target the fertilizer application to the root system. If shoots are still active, the energy can be consumed and not supplied to the root system.

Last Transition Zone Applications. When should you stop fertilizing warm-season grasses (like zoysia and bermudagrass) in the transition zone? For well-maintained turf, it’s best to make the last nitrogen application four to eight weeks before the first frost. You want to avoid an extra lush plant going into the first hard frost. Reduce nitrogen and incorporate potassium and calcium for your final applications to help “harden off” the plant.

Best Fall Fertilizers. While your fertilizer rep is the best person to make recommendations for your area, since early fall typically coincides with aeration and seeding, a starter fertilizer is a good choice (like 16-28-12). When selecting a starter fertilizer, look for something with slow-release nitrogen to maximize feeding as opposed to old-school 12-12-12 types, which don’t last long in the soil. If not seeding, then a good all-purpose analysis with slow-release (such as 22-0-4), is a great recovery fertilizer. (Other good options for late summer are 22-3-11 and 30-0-6.)

Winterizer Fertilizer. High-nitrogen fertilizers like 46-0-0 or 34-0-4 are popular. These fertilizers don’t have any stabilization or slow-release capability. They are intended to be delivered directly to the root system. Again, consult with your fertilizer rep to find what will work best in your area.

Weed-And-Feed…And Seed? Yes, you can. While many herbicides used in lawn care have a three- to four-week seeding interval after application, mesotrione is a very effective broadleaf and grassy weed herbicide that can be applied immediately before, the day of, or even after seeding. (Try granular starter fertilizer (21-22-4) or spray ArmorTech Trione.)

For best practices on overseeding, see “Optimal Overseeding.

Are you confused about fulvic acids, biostimulants, micronutrients, and how they relate to fertilizer applications? Mark Sybouts of Advanced Turf Solutions helps to demystify mycorrhizae and more in “Fertilizer Label Literacy: Beyond NPK.” Look for it in the October print edition of Turf. Get yours here