How To Fertilize Your Fall Lawn


– Welcome to Southwest
Yard and Garden. I’m John White. Today, we’re going to be
talking about fall lawn and fall lawn care. And with me today is
Dr. Bernd Leinauer. Good morning, Bernd Bernd is our
extension turfgrass specialist. And Bernd, we’re talking
about fall lawn care, and I’m sure you have
some tips for viewers. – Yeah, thank you, John. It’s my pleasure to
be with you today. And first and foremost in our
lawn care program in the fall is fertilization. We talked earlier this
year about fertilization and recommended for warm season
grasses like the Bermuda grass here, about 1 pound
of nitrogen per month. We might consider
reducing that amount a little bit just not to enhance
a lot of succulent growth and then going into the
winter, because that makes the plant very
susceptible to winter kill. So we reach now the
middle of September. If you haven’t applied
your September application, reduce the nitrogen to about
a quarter pound or about half a pound. And then the last one,
the last fertilization, beginning of October,
middle of October, reduce it even further to
maybe half a pound of nitrogen. – OK, and if we’re looking
at a fertilizer as a far as a formulation or analysis. – Here we have a
typical turf fertilizer. We have three numbers on it,
here the 15, the 5, and the 10. The first number, in
this case, the 15, stands for nitrogen, the
second number for phosphorus, and the third number
for potassium. In late fall fertilization
and fall fertilization, we might consider
having a fertilizer that has a high potassium number. So this one is actually
quite perfect– 15 for nitrogen,
5 for phosphorus, and 10 for potassium,
because the potassium helps the grass plant
to survive the winter and to become a little
bit more winter hardy. – OK. And we do want nitrogen
there, because even though the grass may be brown on
top, we’ve still got live roots and the plant is respiring and
going through its processes. – Absolutely. Even though the grass that
goes dormant, the warm season grass over the winter, it’s
still physiologically active. We have root growth,
and we might even have some top growth
over the winter. So we definitely
don’t want to neglect the nitrogen in our fall
fertilization program. – OK, let’s go talk about
another aspect of fall care, and that’s mowing. Bernd, talking about mowing,
there’s a big controversy as far as the warm
season grasses is to take them all the way
down, scalp them, you know, as going in the winter or
to leave the grass tall. – Well, John, I prefer the
idea of kind of in-between, you know? You want to reduce
the mowing height, but not taking it
down to the ground, because if you leave some
protective cover on the ground, it helps to prevent the
winter desiccation so lower the mowing height, but
not take it down to the ground. – OK. How do we determine
mowing height, and what would you recommend? – Here, in this
case, we have a– – This is a hybrid Bermuda. Yeah, this is a
hybrid Bermuda grass. And we have a mowing height,
a standard mowing height, of about an inch and a half. So for the winter,
you want to take this down to maybe an inch or
3/4 of an inch, maybe even half an inch, whatever
pleases you the most. However, don’t take
it down to the ground at all so that you
have bare soil exposed. – OK, how about far as a
cool-season grass as far as mowing height. What should be maintained? – With the cool season grasses– – Like fescue and blue grass. – Yeah, you might want
to follow the same rules. But reducing the
mowing height is not that crucial for the cool season
grasses, because they grow. – They’re putting on growth. – Yeah, they’re putting
on growth over the winter, they grow longer into the fall,
and they come out early again in the spring. Sometimes they might not
even go dormant at all, depending on how the winter is
and where you are in the state. – OK. Now, let’s talk about the last
segment, and that’s watering, irrigation. Bernd, water is a real critical
issue here in New Mexico, and on a warm-season yard
going in the fall here, how often should we be watering
and maybe what amount should we be watering? – Well, John, we
mentioned earlier that Bermuda grass goes
dormant over the winter. Dormant doesn’t mean it dies. So you have to add
water, but you definitely have to reduce the amount
of water and the times that you apply water. So let’s say if you are on
a three times weekly basis right now, during
the winter, you might want to reduce
it to once every two weeks or maybe
even once every month. That depends on the soil
type and on the location where you are. – OK. And one way to check
it, I know I’ve advised a lot of homeowners just
to use a simple screwdriver, push it into the ground. If you can push it in
with a pretty steady pull, then it’s moist at
least to that depth, and we do like to have probably
about 6 to 8 inches of moisture for turf grass roots. – That is correct, because
some moisture in the soil helps us to avoid
desiccation in the winter. And we can actually check it out
here how the soil looks like. – Pretty good moisture there. – Yeah. – You can feel it. It’s very moist here. So they’re doing a good
job in irrigation here. – If you’re noticing this
beginning to dry out, that means that you
do need to water. So if you’re
constantly checking, you’ll have a good
idea how often you need to water rather than
doing it on a calendar basis. – Absolutely. That’s the idea. – Well, Bernd, thank
you very much for being on Southwest Yard and
Garden, and we hope to have you back as a guest. Again. – It was my pleasure,
John, being with you today. Thank you. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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