Navigating Fall Fertilization for Bermuda Grass

Fall is a transitional season for Bermuda grass, as it prepares to go dormant for the winter. While the focus may shift from aggressive growth to preservation, fertilization remains a critical aspect of lawn care during this period. This article aims to guide professionals through the complexities of fall fertilization for Bermuda grass.

Timing Your Nitrogen Applications

Continuing with monthly Nitrogen applications is essential until you’re about 30 days away from the anticipated first hard frost. The 30-day mark serves as a crucial cut-off point for Nitrogen applications, as you don’t want to encourage new growth when the grass is preparing to store nutrients for the winter and the following spring.

The Final Fertilizer Application

Your last fertilizer application should coincide with this 30-day window before the first hard frost. This is not the time for a heavy Nitrogen dose; instead, the focus should be on preparing the grass for winter dormancy.

The Role of Potassium

In addition to Nitrogen, applying around 1 lb of Potassium per thousand square feet during your final fertilizer application can be highly beneficial. Potassium helps to “harden off” the grass, enhancing its resilience against the stress of winter dormancy. This nutrient plays a vital role in cell wall structure and helps the grass retain water, making it less susceptible to winter kill.

Summary

Opting for a fertilizer with both Phosphorus (P) and low levels of Nitrogen (N) can serve specific agronomic objectives. Phosphorus is essential for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) formation, a fundamental energy currency in plant cells, thus facilitating nutrient uptake and root elongation. A robust root system enhances the plant’s resilience against biotic and abiotic stressors, including temperature fluctuations and pathogen attacks. On the other hand, a minimal Nitrogen input can sustain chlorophyll synthesis for adequate photosynthetic activity without triggering excessive vegetative growth, which could divert resources from root and storage organ development. This is particularly crucial during pre-dormancy phases when nutrient storage is vital for winter survival and spring regrowth. Therefore, a fertilizer with both elements can offer a more nuanced nutrient management strategy compared to zero-input options.

Given these considerations, for transitional periods like fall, where the focus shifts from growth to nutrient storage and root fortification, a fertilizer with both Phosphorus and a modest level of Nitrogen is recommended. This approach aligns with advanced nutrient management strategies, optimizing both immediate needs and long-term resilience of Bermuda grass lawns.

SiteOne Products

Product NameN-P-K RatioAdditional ElementsWeightRetail Price$ per pound of K
LESCO Fertilizer 5-10-315-10-3110% Fe50 lb.$43.92$1.41
Roots For Trees Organic/Organic-Base Fertilizer 11-22-2211-22-22A/C8 lb.$66.78$3.76
Fertilizer 0-0-62 100% MOP A/C Sprayable0-0-62A/C Sprayable50 lb.$38.50$1.24
Mirimichi Green Nutri-Kelp 1-1-4 Liquid Fertilizer1-1-4Liquid2.5 gal.$291.86N/A
Thrive Fertilizer 0-0-22E Elite0-0-22EElite50 lb.$38.52$1.75
Sprayable Fertilizer 0-0-50 100% SOP0-0-50100% SOP55 lb.$82.08$2.98

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