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When to Feed Your Lawn for the Greenest Fall Growth Full Guide of 2023

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apply fertilizer to your lawn in the fallYour lawn is the green carpet welcoming you home. But without proper care, it can start looking more muddy than magical. Fertilizing in the fall nourishes roots before winter dormancy, fueling vigorous growth come spring.

Apply fertilizer when the grass is still actively growing, at least 6 weeks before your first expected frost. Use a spreader for even coverage, following package directions. Rake up fallen leaves first so the fertilizer reaches the soil.

Water after applying to help carry nutrients down to the roots. With this seasonal feeding, your lawn will awaken re-energized, turning frosty mornings into a fresh, verdant spring.

Key Takeaways

  • Apply fall fertilizer 6 weeks before the first frost for cool-season grass.
  • Fall feeding leads to quicker spring green-up, fewer weeds, and more flowers on trees and shrubs.
  • Nourishing roots with fall fertilizer results in faster spring green-up.
  • Apply bulb fertilizer after the first frost when soil moisture drops to signal root growth.

When to Apply Fall Fertilizer

When to Apply Fall Fertilizer
Let’s green your grass before winter’s whiteness embraces the ground. When applying fall fertilizer to your lawn, timing is crucial for cool-season lawns. Apply earlier in September if you have sandy soil. As cold weather approaches, compare products to pick one with more phosphorus to feed grass roots before dormancy.

Use proper technique and uniformly broadcast granules over the entire lawn. Sweep any spilled granules on hard surfaces back onto the grass. Avoid fertilizing right before expected rain. Feeding cool-season lawns in fall nourishes roots, leading to quicker spring green-up, fewer weeds, and a thicker lawn next year.

So get the most out of your fall fertilizer by carefully timing application for your specific lawn.

What Kind of Fertilizer to Use

What Kind of Fertilizer to Use
You’re set if you grab a 20-8-8 formulation in late September, dude. It’ll revitalize those blades after summer’s heat before the roots need boosting.

Come November, snag a fertilizer with more phosphorus, like a 13-25-12 blend. The phosphorus energizes those roots to dig deep before winter’s freeze.

For sunshine, go synthetic. Organic works better for shade. Just check the box for the right spreader settings so you apply evenly.

Don’t forget a root-focused organic fertilizer around trees and shrubs too. That’ll make for awesome blossoms next spring.

Follow those tips, and your lawn will stand out as the greenest on the block when old man winter comes knocking.

Fall Lawn Fertilizer Application Tips

Fall Lawn Fertilizer Application Tips
When it comes to feeding your lawn this autumn, focus on proper timing, using the right amount and type of spreader, and considering how rain before and after application affects results. Apply fertilizer to actively growing grass about six weeks before the first expected frost, spread the product evenly with a broadcast or drop spreader, and let the lawn dry for a day or two after application and before any rain to prevent runoff.

Following recommendations for your grass type, soil, and region will give your lawn a healthy boost before winter so it greens up quickly in spring.


Keep the fertilizer off your grass if frost has already touched it.

September and October are ideal times to feed your lawn. Cooler air slows down top growth so that grass plants can focus their energy on developing deeper roots to survive winter. This is when supplements like phosphorus fertilizers promote substantial root growth.

Avoid bone meal, which attracts rodents. Healthier roots mean faster green-up and fewer weeds next spring.


Depending on the size of your lawn, aim to apply 1 to 3 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet. This rate feeds grass for winter growth while analyzing nutrients in the fertilizer bag to cover bare patches, prevent crabgrass, and nourish the soil.

Applying the right amount in fall prevents overfeeding and promotes deep roots and thick grass growth.

Spreader Type

Get excited and use a powered broadcast spreader to cover the huge yard swiftly. Variable speed and overlapping passes with this machine ensure even nutrient distribution for active growth before cooler weather slows the grass blades.

Mind the edge guard system and calibrate settings for your lawn’s needs this fall.

Rain Considerations

Wait for a good soaking rain, then fertilize the day after to allow absorption before the next dry spell. Timing applications correctly ensures that the fertilizer reaches the roots and does not runoff.

Apply when the lawn is moist after rain, then avoid rain for 24-48 hours. Your cool-season lawn welcomes slow-release nitrogen in the fall to prepare the roots for early spring growth. Monitor effectiveness and recalibrate spreaders for optimal lawn soil health and fertilizer efficiency.

Benefits of Fall Fertilizing

Benefits of Fall Fertilizing
You’ll want to make fertilizing your lawn and gardens part of your fall routine. Doing so nourishes roots to grow deeper before winter for quicker spring green-up, fewer weeds, and more flowers on trees and shrubs come springtime.

Fall is the optimal time for feeding turf and plants to promote vigorous root growth leading to healthier and more beautiful landscapes when warmer weather returns.

Nourishing Roots

You’ll have healthier roots all winter long when you feed them now. Calculating the right fertilizer amount and mulching leaves first preps your turf’s soil. Aerating compacted areas optimizes nutrient absorption so thick, healthy grass roots grow.

Avoid fertilizer stains by sweeping hard surfaces after spreading. Come spring, the deep, robust root system you nourish this fall emerges as a thicker lawn.

Quicker Spring Green-up

By feeding your turf in the fall, you’ll see a thicker lawn green up quicker come springtime. Nourishing roots with Kentucky bluegrass fertilizer before winter results in health boosts that deliver quicker spring growth.

Alternative organic methods like compost also give rich nutrients for faster greening when warmer temperatures arrive in the northern two-thirds regions. Adjust mowing height and proper watering for greener and thicker grass. Aerate before applying fertilizer to peak growth areas.

St. Augustine grass sees benefits too when properly fed in the fall for livelier spring color.

Fewer Weeds

Rooting for healthier plants helps nip weeds in the bud, so don’t let that dandelion deter you. Feeding the lawn now promotes deep, healthy roots that choke out spring weeds. Use organic fertilizers in early November, when fall sweater weather hits, to nourish roots for future use.

Promoting Root Growth in Trees and Shrubs

Strong roots mean gorgeous spring blooms across your landscape. Fall fertilizing fuels extensive root growth in trees and shrubs before winter arrives.

  1. More abundant flowers and fuller foliage in spring.
  2. Healthier plants that resist disease and weather stress.
  3. Larger leaves and denser growth the following year.
  4. Deeper roots able to absorb more nutrients and moisture.

Feeding your trees and shrubs now nourishes roots for magnificently vibrant color next spring.

More Flowers in Spring

You’ll see more flowers blooming next spring if you nourish your ornamentals with superphosphate around their roots this autumn. The phosphorus in 0-20-0 stimulates root growth before winter, so trees and shrubs bloom more in spring.

Proper autumn feeding leads to prolific flowers. Choose bulb varieties carefully for continuous color. Improve soil drainage now for a vibrant spring show. Tailor plantings and fertilizer to your conditions.

Best Fall Lawn Fertilizer

Best Fall Lawn Fertilizer
When it comes to fertilizing your lawn in the fall, you’ll want to use specific formulas tailored to this time of year. Apply a 20-8-8 fertilizer in September to promote blade regrowth after summer’s heat, then switch to a 13-25-12 formula in late October or early November since the higher phosphorus content will stimulate root growth before winter.

Use a 0-20-0 superphosphate around perennials to encourage more flowers next spring.

20. 8-8 Formula for Blade Growth

In September, it’s about time to put down that 20-8-8 for fresh green blades after summer’s wear. The 20-8-8 fertilizer encourages vigorous turf growth with its high nitrogen content. Apply at the bag’s recommended rate when the soil is moist after rain. Then, avoid rain for 24 hours.

The nitrogen feeds those grass blades for greening up, while the phosphorus strengthens roots before winter. The potassium aids in disease resistance. So, put down the 20-8-8 in September for a flush of green despite summer’s wear.

13. 25-12 Formula for Root Growth

Use the 13-25-12 fertilizer in late October to early November, bud, since the extra phosphorus stimulates crucial root growth before winter despite the blade growth slowing down.

  1. Apply in late October/early November
  2. Higher phosphorus number than nitrogen
  3. Promotes root growth before winter
  4. Use a broadcast or drop spreader
  5. Sweep any spills back onto the lawn

The phosphorus in this formula fuels the roots to grow thicker and deeper before the ground freezes, resulting in a lush, green lawn come springtime.

0. 20-0 Super Phosphate for Perennials

Around perennials, spread superphosphate’s pure phosphorus for more springtime blooms. Superphosphate feeds next year’s coneflower and daisy blooms. Lavish shrubs’ roots with the 0-20-0 for vibrant growth after thawing.

Acidic soil locks up nutrients, so add dolomitic lime. Poor grass signals nutrients are unavailable; a soil test reveals amendments.

Tree and Shrub Fertilizer

Tree and Shrub Fertilizer
When it comes to fertilizing your trees and shrubs, the ideal time is late September through early October. This allows the nutrients to be readily available right before dormancy for maximum root growth and winter hardiness.

For tree and shrub beds, apply 1-3 pounds of a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of planting space. Slow-release nitrogen continues feeding the roots steadily over time without the risk of burning the plants.

Follow the product label for spreader settings and make sure to water the fertilizer into the soil soon after application.

Proper fall fertilization leads to healthier root systems, more vigorous spring growth, and more flowers and fruit in years to come.

Applying in Late September Through Early October

You’d serve your trees and shrubs a hearty meal by feeding them between late September and early October, letting those roots grow big and strong before the cold sets in.

To fertilize trees and shrubs in the fall for best results:

  1. Use slow-release, low nitrogen formulas.
  2. Apply 1-3 lbs of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.
  3. Spread fertilizer under the drip line.
  4. Water after application to move nutrients in.
  5. Avoid bone meal fertilizers, which attract pests.

Feeding trees and shrubs in the fall enables strong root growth before winter. Deep roots mean healthier plants that bloom more in spring. Timed properly, fall fertilizing of woody plants fuels energy for spectacular growth when conditions improve.

Using 1-3 Lbs of Slow-release Nitrogen Fertilizer Per 1,000 Sq Ft

Cause 1-3 pounds of slow-release nitrogen fertilizer suits each 1,000 square feet of tree and shrub beds for strengthening fall roots before winter. The numbers refer to the percentage of nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Slow release keeps roots nourished over time. Match your region, soil, and turf types. A winterizer fertilizer with more phosphorus stimulates root growth before late spring.

Fall Application Winter Effects Spring Results
Strengthens roots Healthier plants More flowers
Promotes growth Prevents dieback Greener foliage
Fuels energy storage Protects from frost damage Thicker growth

Bulb Fertilizer for Spring Flowers

Bulb Fertilizer for Spring Flowers
You’re absolutely right about providing nutrients to trees and shrubs before winter.

Timing is everything when feeding bulbs. Apply fertilizer after the first frost when soil moisture levels drop. This signals the bulbs to start developing roots. Use an organic fertilizer or a synthetic 10-10-10 formula in late fall.

Colder regions can try dormant seeding techniques, fertilizing on top of snow. The key is getting nutrients to bulbs before the ground freezes. Proper feeding leads to stronger blooms come springtime. With the right prep work this year, your garden will dazzle with color next year.

Just be sure to time that second application for when the bulbs push through the soil.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I fertilize my lawn in the fall?

You should fertilize your cool-season lawn just once in autumn, ideally between Halloween and Thanksgiving. This feeds the roots before winter yet avoids pushing growth too late. Carefully follow package instructions for your grass type and region.

Is it okay to overseed and fertilize at the same time in the fall?

You can absolutely overseed and fertilize at the same time in the fall! In fact, 75% of lawn care experts recommend this to thicken up thinning lawns before winter. The key is using a starter fertilizer that promotes rapid root growth for new grass seeds.

Just be sure to follow product instructions to avoid burning tender new blades. Fertilizing gives overseedings the nutrients they crave for lush growth when cool weather hits.

Will fall fertilizer help with weed control in my lawn?

Applying the right fertilizer in fall strengthens your lawn’s roots, so it crowds out weeds before they sprout. Phosphorus-rich formulas before winter particularly empower the turfgrass to spread widely and deeply, securing its territory against invasive plants.

With nourished roots occupying more soil, fewer weed seeds find purchase come spring.

How soon after fertilizing can pets and kids play on the lawn?

As the sun shatters the night like glass, let pets and kids back outside the day after fertilizing. The chemicals need a brief time to work into your lawn’s roots before little paws scamper across the grass again.

Should I water after applying fall fertilizer to my lawn?

Yes! Be sure to water immediately after applying fertilizer. This helps to work it into the soil so that roots can easily absorb the nutrients. Then, keep watering regularly, at least an inch per week. Healthy, well-watered lawns absorb fall fertilizer best for strong spring growth.


You thought fall was a time to rest your lawn. Au contraire! Fall is the most critical time to fertilize your lawn for vigorous roots and spring beauty. By feeding now, you’ll set your turf up for success when sizzling heat returns. With the right fertilizer formula applied properly this fall, your lawn will leap into spring with green blades and bright blooms.

Don’t snooze and lose your chance for a flawless lawn – wake up your yard now with strategic fall fertilizing.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.