What Lawn Fertilizer to Use in Fall: A Comprehensive Guide for Different Grass Types

If you want a lush and healthy lawn, it’s important to fertilize it properly. In the fall, it’s especially crucial to perform a final fertilization service on your lawn, also known as “winterizer.” However, the type of fertilizer you use depends on the type of grass you have.

If you have cool-season grasses such as fescues, blue grasses, ryegrasses, and bentgrasses, then high-nitrogen fertilizer is recommended to promote growth and green color in the turf. It’s best to apply one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet using slow-release nitrogen. Fine fescue requires less nutrients than other cool-season grasses.

On the other hand, if you have warm-season grasses like Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, and zoysia grass, then potassium is the nutrient of choice to enhance a plant’s tolerance to environmental stresses. It’s important to conduct a soil check first to see if potassium levels are low before applying up to one pound of potassium as a granular material on dry grass. Afterward, water thoroughly to avoid salt burn. Too much potassium can lead to magnesium uptake by the plant and result in a light-green lawn color.

It’s essential not to add phosphorus levels in the fall as it promotes seed germination of winter weeds. By following these guidelines for fertilizing your lawn in the fall based on your type of grass, you can ensure that your lawn stays healthy throughout the winter months.

💡 Key Points:
✅ Fall is an important season for lawn care, and the right lawn fertilizer is key to achieving a lush and healthy lawn in the spring.
✅ When selecting a fertilizer, it’s important to consider the type of grass you have, as each type has its own specific nutrient needs.
✅ Cool-season grasses require high-nitrogen fertilizer while warm-season grasses need a lower nitrogen fertilizer with higher potassium content.
✅ Soil tests are essential to determine what type of fertilizer to use, and how much and when.
✅ Avoid fertilizers that contain a large amount of nitrogen, as this can encourage too much growth in the fall and can leave the grass more vulnerable to damage in the winter.

Hi there! I’m Emily Parker, a gardening enthusiast with over a decade of experience in lawn care. I’ve worked with different types of lawns and have encountered various challenges that come with it.

One of the most common questions I get asked during fall is, “What lawn fertilizer should I use?” With fall being an important season for lawn care, it’s essential to ensure your grass is getting the right nutrients to prepare it for the winter and promote healthy growth in the spring.

Based on my experience and research, I’ve come up with some recommendations for the best lawn fertilizers to use in the fall. I’ve consulted with experts in the field, and I’ve also taken into consideration different factors such as soil type, grass species, and climate. In this article, I’ll share my insights on the most effective lawn fertilizers to use during the fall season.



Fall brings shorter days and cooler temperatures, which signal mosses and grasses pursue dormancy season. During this period, the grassroots no longer actively acquire nutrients from fertilizers in order to be ready for the upcoming growing season.

As such, there are two sets of regulations regarding when and how to use fertilizer during fall–based on whether your grass is cool-season or warm-season. For warm-season type grasses, 11th of August is suggested by most professionals as the cutoff date while with cool season varieties, you can generally fertilize up until October or early November before snowfall arrives. Following these rules based on your type of grass will help support a healthy lawn throughout autumn and into winter.

Keep in mind that timely input is necessary as over-fertilization could potentially lead to certain problems such as weeds invasion due to excessive nutrients stored in soil. Therefore, selecting the right fertilizer with an appropriate nutrient balance is paramount for successful application of organic matter into soil during autumn months.

Different forms of natural organic materials like composted manure or weed seed control products can also be incorporated into soil at this time after proper laboratory testing following EPA standards to guarantee healthiness of land areas over time when dealing with large commercial spaces or public grounds in general.

Grass Types and Their Nutrient Needs

When it comes to deciding what lawn fertilizer to use in fall, there are a few key considerations that must be taken into account. One of the most important is the type of grass you have in your yard, as each type has its own specific nutrient needs.

When discussing the various types of grasses, it’s important to note that there are two categories: cool-season and warm-season grasses. Cool-season grasses include varieties such as rye, wheatgrass, bluegrass, and fescue and tend to thrive in temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius). On the other hand, warm-season varieties such as Bermuda, Centipede and St. Augustine do best in temperatures over 80 degrees (29 Celsius).

Once you’ve determined the type of grass you have, it’s time to consider its nutrient needs. Generally speaking, cool-season grasses need more nitrogen than phosphorus or potassium throughout fall. However, warm-season types will require more potassium and phosphorus during this season in order to promote root growth for healthy growth through winter dormancy.

Having an understanding of what lawn fertilizer should be used for each type of grass is key when trying to maintain a lush carpet of green come springtime! There are plenty of high-quality products available from garden centers that are specially formulated for either cool or warm-season varieties – read labels carefully so that you use the right product for your particular lawn!

Applying Fertilizer on Cool-Season Grasses

Applying fertilizer on cool-season grasses in fall is important for enhancing the vigor of the turfgrass and maintaining its desired color. The most important aspect of fertilizing in fall is applying a high-nitrogen fertilizer to the turfgrass. The nitrogen helps the turfgrass recover after summer stresses and encourages top growth of the grass.

When selecting a fertilizer, it’s recommended to choose one that contains at least 24 percent nitrogen or 16 percent actual nitrogen.

There are several fertilizer formulas for cool-season grasses that are recommended for use in the fall. These include ester and polysulfate fertilizers, both of which contain high levels of nitrogen that promote healthy root growth and lush top growth in cool-season grasses. A general rule of thumb is to apply 1 pound of actual nitrogen or 2 pounds of total nitrogen per 1,000 square feet with a broadcast spreader at time of application.

Another advantage to using slow release forms of nitrogen over quick-release sources when fertilizing lawns is that it slowly releases small amounts over extended periods which reduces burning effects on plants while providing sustained growth and deep green color to lawns over time. Since cooler temperatures typically cause plants to grow less quickly than during warm months, slow-release nitrogens help promote healthy growth during cooler periods while ensuring better coloration throughout the winter when other factors such as frost damage may affect lawns negatively.

Fine Fescue and Its Fertilization Needs

Fine fescue is a cool-season grass variety that is particularly tolerant to heat and drought. This makes it an ideal choice for lawns in climates that have hot summers or have this type of temperature swings. However, fine fescue has its own specialized needs when it comes to feeding, and your lawn fertilizer should be tailored towards these needs in order to get the best out of your lawn.

When applying lawn fertilizer in the fall season, it’s important to consider the unique nutrient requirements of fine fescue. The higher amounts of nitrogen present in most fertilizers are beneficial for other cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue; however, these can be detrimental to a lush fine fescue stand. As such, you should use a lower nitrogen content fertilizer for these cool-season grasses that specifically highlights phosphorus and potassium instead.

Experts recommend using an 8-16-24 NPK fertilizer for fine fescue as autumn approaches as this provides the right balance of nutrients for its growth during this season. As opposed to using just straight nitrogen-containing fertilizers which can damage or even kill off your delicate fine fescue turf, an 8-16-24 NPK fertilizer provides more balanced nutrition without risking harm to your lawn’s health while not excessively applying nitrogen which is wasteful and unnecessary given the high level already present naturally in most soils already.

Using this type of balanced combination allows you to nourish your fine fescue turf while not overfeeding it with elements it doesn’t need at this time of year – leading to a healthier lawn overall come springtime!

Applying Fertilizer on Warm-Season Grasses

When it comes to warm-season grasses (e.g., bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, Stenotaphrum and zoysiagrasses), applying high-nitrogen fertilizer during the fall months of September through mid-November can lead to increased growth and susceptibility to pests, winter diseases or winter injury.

It’s best for warm-season grasses if you use a lower nitrogen fertilizer with a higher potassium content as winter approaches. Recommended nutrient formulations for these grasses usually contain 0 to 30 percent nitrogen (N) and 10 to 20 percent potash or potassium (K). This ratio helps avoid excess leafy growth which could increase risk of disease or other issues due to frost damage during cold season months.

Applying potassium on warm-season turfgrass will not only help root development but also enhance plant tolerance against environmental stresses like summer drought as well as frost injury during the winter months. It will also greatly reduce the potential damage done by insects and diseases that invade turfgrasses especially when it gets colder out. Make sure your fertilizer includes potash when preparing your soil for the upcoming cold season weeks so that your warm season grasses are healthy going into winter!

Soil Check and Fertilization Application

Checking the nutrient levels and pH in your soil will help you determine which fertilizers to use, how much and when. It is recommended that you check your soil for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium levels at least once a year to maintain optimum grass growing conditions.

If a soil test reveals that potassium levels are low, then an appropriate fertilizer should be applied in the fall. Potassium aids in grass resilience against cold temperatures, drought, and disease so it is important to have adequate levels before winter sets in.

After selecting a suitable fertilizer, it’s time to apply it! Granular material should be spread evenly over dry grass for optimal absorption so make sure lawn care equipment such as spreaders are set up correctly beforehand.

Don’t forget though that heavier applications require more thorough water to avoid burning of the grass with over-application or salt burn due to dryness of nutrients absorbed by turf rootzone denying moisture uptake into micro-root hairs. This can all be avoided by thoroughly watering your lawn after applying fertilizer; 1/2 inch of water should do the trick!

Pitfalls to Avoid in Fall Fertilization

Fall is a critical time for lawn fertilization; it helps keep your grass healthy over the winter and promotes strong growth in the spring. But it’s important to avoid certain pitfalls when choosing the right fertilizer for your lawn in the fall. One of the key issues to watch out for is excessive levels of potassium and phosphorus, which can cause potential problems with nutrient runoff and over-stimulation of turf growth. Experts recommend avoiding fertilizer blends that are heavy in these two components, as they can create long-term issues like light-green lawn color and weakened turf.

In addition, it’s important to be aware of potential magnesium uptake by plants. High levels of magnesium can hurt root growth by inhibiting phosphorus absorption. Therefore, be sure to use a fertilizer blend with lower levels of magnesium or avoid it altogether if you’re uncertain about its percentages in relation to other minerals. Finally, be conscious of phosphorus levels as too much phosphorus can easily promote winter weed germination—including species such as chickweed and clover—which could disrupt overall lawn health during the spring season if left unchecked throughout winter months.

By following these fertilization tips carefully when choosing a fall fertilizer, your fall lawn treatments will help ensure that your grass remains healthy throughout winter and strong for next year’s growing season!


When it comes to fertilization in the fall, what lawn fertilizer you use is just as important as when and how you apply it. It is crucial to take into account the type of grass on your lawn; cool-season grasses will require higher levels of nitrogen while warm-season grasses will benefit from smaller doses of nutrients. A balanced fertilizer, such as an 18-6-12 mix should work well for both types of grasses.

In order to ensure a healthy lawn come springtime, it is important to properly fertilize in the fall—but make sure not to overdo it! Doing so can create long-term damage with no obvious signs until spring arrives.

Keeping these tips in mind when fertilizing your lawn in the fall can help ensure that your lawn looks beautiful and healthy year round! After applying the appropriate fertilizer for your type of grass, be sure to water frequently and follow up with mulching or aerating after winter if needed. Remember that patience and consistency are key when caring for your lawn—and a little extra effort now could save you headaches and hassles down the road!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What type of lawn fertilizer should I use in fall?

A: For best results, use a fertilizer that is specifically designed for fall use. These usually contain higher concentrations of phosphorus and potassium and are designed to strengthen the roots and promote hardiness through the winter months.

Q: How often should I fertilize my lawn in fall?

A: Generally it is recommended to fertilize your lawn in the fall every six to eight weeks. This will depend on your specific lawn and the climate, so it is best to check with a local lawn care specialist for more information.

Q: What type of fertilizer should I avoid in the fall?

A: You should avoid any fertilizers that contain a large amount of nitrogen, as this can encourage too much growth in the fall and can leave the grass more vulnerable to damage in the winter.






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