Preparing Your Lawn for Winter Dormancy

Winter may seem like it’s a long way away, but in all actuality we only have a few months before cold weather moves in. Colder temps can do a number on your lawn if you haven’t prepared, and now is the time to think about how you should be preparing your lawn for winter, especially when it comes to winter fertilizer application. 


What is Winter Lawn Fertilizer? 

Winter lawn fertilizer - also known as winterizer - is a special winter lawn care treatment that’s typically applied to grass in the late fall. It encourages food storage in the winter and promotes proper root system growth when spring rolls around. It’s not the same thing as a fall fertilizer, which promotes immediate root growth. Winter fertilizers are formulated to ensure that your lawn makes it through the winter season and is ready to grow again in the spring. 

Related: Did You Over-Fertilize Your Lawn? How to Know and What to Do Next

Which Winter Lawn Fertilizer is Best? 

There are seemingly endless options when it comes to winter lawn fertilizer, so how do you choose the best formula for your lawn? It all boils down to the two main ingredients in winterizer: nitrogen (N) and potassium (K). 

  • Nitrogen helps restore your lawn’s carbohydrates, which ensures that it has enough food to last through the winter and into the spring. 
  • Potassium provides your grass with nutrients so the lawn can survive things like stress, extreme cold, and mold. 

A good winterizer should have a 2:1 ratio of nitrogen to potassium. This ratio ensures that your lawn is getting enough energy to last through winter and flourish again when the weather warms up. Further, phosphorus can be a helpful added  ingredient to support your lawn in cold weather. 

You’ll also want to choose a winter lawn fertilizer that’s water-soluble and quick-release - you should be able to check this information on the bag. 


When Should You Apply Winter Lawn Fertilizer? 

Applying winter lawn fertilizer should be the last step in your annual winter lawn care maintenance routine. We’ve discussed before how grass goes dormant in the winter; it stops growing and stores energy for spring. It’s best to apply winter lawn fertilizer right after the grass stops growing and prepares for dormancy, while it’s still green on top and active below the soil. Here are a few more tips: 

  • Typically, you’ll want to apply winter lawn fertilizer in November. However, if you live in a northern state and experience cold weather sooner, you’ll need to fertilize earlier. 
  • Apply winter lawn fertilizer after the last mow of the season. Your lawn will be able to absorb the nitrogen from the fertilizer and store it away for later use. 
  • Don’t wait too long. Applying winter lawn fertilizer too late - in December, for example - can result in mold, ice, and other issues. It can also prevent your lawn from being able to absorb and store the nutrients before harsh winter weather arrives. 
  • Conversely, applying a winterizer too early can stunt your lawn from thriving later on. 
  • Consider doing a soil test before you apply winter lawn fertilizer. You may not need to give your lawn anything extra if it has enough potassium to make it through the winter season. 
  • Be careful how much fertilizer you’re using - you can typically use about ½ of what’s recommended on the bag. This will save you money and also prevent you from over-fertilizing. 

Start Preparing Your Lawn for Winter Today 

Have questions about winter lawn fertilizer or need help getting your lawn prepped for the season? Contact Natural Green Systems today.

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Topics: Lawn Care, Fertilizer

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