Types of Fertilizers to Use in the Winter

Like hibernating bears, most plants settle down for a long winter's nap. Their metabolism slows as they enter dormant states, while some plants -- such as deciduous trees and shrubs -- shut down almost completely after their leaves drop in autumn. But deciduous plants are able to survive winter dormancy on the stored food reserves they manufactured the previous growing season. And although conifers may appear to be growing in winter because they remain vibrant green, their growth processes screech almost to a halt.

However, unless the ground is completely frozen, plant roots continue to grow over winter. So if you supply nutrients properly during the winter to nourish the roots, your lawn and garden can get a healthy head start on spring growth. The Grounds Guys® can help you determine how winter fertilizers -- or "winterizers" -- can benefit your lawn and garden.

Regardless of the time of year that you apply any fertilizer to your yard, the first step is testing the soil. If you supply nutrients that your plants don't need, you'll not only waste money but also the time you'll spend to apply the fertilizer. Beyond the unnecessary money and time, you may also put your plants in harm's way. Excessive fertilizer can burn plant roots, damage plant tissues and cause plant death.

If your soil test results reveal nutrients that are deficient in the soil, The Grounds Guys will recommend which type of winter fertilizers your plants need and we'll apply only the necessary amounts to save you money and save your plants from chemical burn. Although you won't see immediate results above the ground from winter fertilizer applications, the underground root system is strengthened so it can better support new shoot growth in spring.

Winter Fertilizer Basics & Tips

  • Slow-release formulations are designed for the long haul, supplying nutrients gradually without burning the roots.
  • One fertilizer application during the winter is usually recommended. The Grounds Guys can advise whether an early-winter or late-winter application is better suited to your lawn and garden needs. If you have heavy clay soil, we may apply fertilizer in mid-winter.
  • Typically, winter fertilizers are applied after the last mowing of the season.
  • Water the fertilizer in well before you winterize your garden hoses or sprinkler system.
  • The Grounds Guys can pack an economical two-for-one punch by including pre-emergent weed killers with winter fertilizers.

Turfgrass Needs

  • The most important turfgrass nutrient, which is needed in larger amounts and supplied more often, is nitrogen. Nitrogen helps "green up" grass, giving your lawn that all-important curb appeal.
  • Typically, nitrogen is applied to lawns at the rate of 1 pound per 1,000 square feet, but The Grounds Guys may advise 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, depending on your turfgrass type, or if your lawn was weak the previous growing season.
  • Supply nitrogen fertilizer in early winter before the ground freezes.

Perennial Plant Needs

  • Typically, perennial plants are fertilized in late winter, just before spring emergence or greenup.
  • Early winter fertilizers may delay dormancy of trees and shrubs, which makes plants susceptible to injury.
  • Applying winter fertilizers to snowy or frozen ground may lead to fertilizer runoff into surface waters.

The Grounds Guys are experts in plant nutrient needs. Fertilizers are not one-size-fits-all solutions. What works for your turfgrass is probably not suitable for your trees, shrubs or perennial flowers, so we'll help map out a "zone fertilizer" strategy that meets the varied requirements of different plants in your landscape. Let us know how we can green up your lawn, boost the health of your trees and shrubs, and help paint a colorful floral landscape.

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