Why Fertilize Lawns in Winter?
It may seem like a complete waste of time and money to throw fertilizer on your lawn in the dead of Winter. As a matter of fact, no matter what you put down or how thick, it won't amount to a 'hill of beans' difference to what the lawn looks like over the next couple of months. Right?
Well the truth of the matter is that there are some big benefits.
SPRING GREEN UP
If you choose a winterizer fertilizer (high in Nitrogen - the first number in the rating), then this will reap big rewards in Mid to Late April. What is happening here is that the Nitrogen in this fertilizer is stored by the turf. It is not fully used until the ground temperature improves. Once this happens in mid to late April, it is available for consumption by the plant immediately. If you wait until April to do this treatment, then the fertilizer, has to dissolve, leach into the sub soil, then be absorbed by the roots. This process takes time and slows down spring green up by about a month.
Want to cut down on Spring Weeds? Add Prodiamine (Barricade) to the mix. This product forms a vapor barrier right at the thatch level that kills newly germinating seeds. While great for Crabgrass Prevention in March/April, it really does a good job on Broadleaf annuals when applied at the labeled rate in December/January.
Another thing to consider is soil temperature. Although the air may have a nip, the ground lags behind this chill by nearly a month. That means below that thick turf it is business as usual. Pick a fertilizer with a heave phosphate content (the second number in the fertilizer rating) and you will help root development tremendously.