Fertilization is most beneficial when applied before a period of active growth. It is best to apply fertilizer in the spring and fall for cool-season grasses.
“A fall feeding for cool-season grasses is recommended to promote the growth the grass will need to sustain itself during the winter,” writes David Mellor, Fenway Park’s master groundskeeper. “It will encourage a longer growing season, which will help the grass store up carbohydrates for a quick green up in the spring.”
A soil test will reveal the soil’s pH, which can affect soil nutrient availability, along with what nutrients are lacking and which are adequate. Soil tests can inform you how much phosphorus and potassium the soil needs, but there is no reliable test for how much nitrogen is needed due to its mobility within the soil.
Nitrogen plays an integral part in helping keep the grass green and encouraging shoot growth. Slow-release nitrogen is advised for fall fertilization to ensure uniform growth over a long period of time while reducing the chance of burning.
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