In the Dirt by Ray Greenstreet

Fall Lawn Fertilizing

The fall feeding is the key feeding for cool-season grasses. Fescue (chewings, hard, red, or tall) and Kentucky bluegrass are the primary constituents of cool-season lawns. In nature, these grasses enter their most active growth period in autumn. There are two primary reasons that fall lawn feeding is so vital:

1.     Fall fertilizing feeds newly forming roots.

In early September, roots that have been sustaining grass crowns for more than three or four years die of old age. Giving grass a fertilizer boost helps nourish actively growing turf crowns and newly forming roots.

2.     Fall fertilizing fuels spring greening.

In the Dirt Photo 1During autumn, perennial plants — including grass — start shifting internal nutrients from leaves to roots. As cool-season grass kicks into high growth gear in fall, individual leaf blades generate internal nutrients, which the plants start shifting to roots as temperatures begin their downward spiral. This root-stored nutrition is what gives grass that quick green-up in spring. When you feed your lawn in autumn, you’re actually fueling lush green grass next spring.

Choose Your Fertilizer

At GreenstreetGardens, we have three key fertilizers that give your lawn the right stuff to encourage healthy root and shoot formation this fall.

Turf Trust, with water-soluble nitrogen, easily nourishes existing and newly forming turf roots. Turf Trust gives grass just enough nitrogen so there’s no nitrogen-laden runoff to damage the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries.

Ask the Greenstreet horticulturists which product is right for you.

Lawn Aerating

Mowing, edging, blowing — all the things you do to groom a lawn also compact soil beneath it. Compacted soil squeezes grass roots, slowly choking the life out of turf. If you have never aerated your lawn, chances are you need to — and fall is the ideal time to aerate cool-season turf.

What is aeration?

Aerating is the process of making small holes in the lawn and soil. An aerator machine may poke holes in soil or actually extract small soil cores. Benefits of aeration include:

  • Allowing oxygen to reach grass roots and soil (healthy roots and soil require oxygen).
  • Opening channels so fertilizer and water can reach grass roots.
  • Loosening compacted soil.
  • Breaking up thatch.

How do I know if I need to aerate?

Use this simple checklist to determine if you need to aerate. “Yes” responses are signs you probably need to aerate.

  • Is it difficult to push a screwdriver or shovel into your lawn?
  • Does water puddle on the lawn after rains?
  • Is your soil heavy clay?
  • Do cars regularly drive on your lawn?
  • Is grass thin and patchy?
  • Is the thatch layer thicker than one-half inch?


  • Autumn is the most important time to fertilize cool-season grasses.
  • Fall lawn fertilizer is what fuels a quick spring green-up.
  • Turf Trust offers grass water-soluble nitrogen, which easily nourishes existing and newly forming turf roots.
  • Aeration loosens compacted soil and allows air, water and fertilizer to reach grass roots.
  • Fall is the ideal time to aerate cool-season turf.
  • If cars drive on your lawn regularly, you should aerate.
  • An easy test to determine if you need to aerate is to stick a screwdriver or shovel into soil. If the blade doesn’t slide into soil easily, you should aerate.

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