Both our daughters are in college now. Though they live at home instead of on campus, they still seem to have diets of a college students. They like late night snacks and microwave meals. One eats leftover green beans and the other likes cold pizza for breakfast. Of course, they prefer breakfast be served late in the day, so they can sleep in.
I used to eat like this, but now I have to be more careful. If Im not, then I will need an antacid before bedtime. Old mens stomachs are not as hardy as those of college students.
Lawns can get indigestion as well. If we feed them the wrong fertilizer, or give it to them at the wrong time, it can set them up for problems -- especially during the winter and early spring. Since lawns are preparing for winter in the fall, good fall care will help us to have a healthy, happy spring.
An August or September fertilization should be a lawns last meal of the growing season. Actually, fertilization is not exactly feeding a lawn. Lawns make their own food by capturing sunlight energy in a chemical reaction called photosynthesis. Fertilizer supplies nutrients that are important in this process. Instead of supplying more energy to the plant immediately (as food does), fertilizer actually may cause the plant to use energy to grow roots or leaves. This is why we must be cautious when fertilizing. Nitrogen fertilizers cause the plant to use plant energy to grow green leaves. This sounds and looks great. But if the plant has been weakened by drought, improper watering or other factors, fertilizing with lots of nitrogen can weaken it further. This is especially true if we fertilize too late. Prevent problems with these tips.
First, use the correct fertilizer. Sample the soil and follow the Extension recommendations. If you do not have a soil sample, use a fertilizer with both nitrogen and potassium in it. Phosphorus may also be needed.
On the three-digit fertilizer analysis, the first number tells the percentage of nitrogen, the second number the percentage phosphorus as phosphate and the third number the percentage of potassium as potash. For instance a 5-10-15 fertilizer would have 5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphate and 15 percent potash.
Good general rates and fertilizer analyses for centipede lawns include five to six pounds per 1,000 square feet of 16-4-8, 15-0-15 or 12-4-8. On other grasses you could use 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet of 10-10-10 or one of these fertilizers.
Other fertilizers should have the rates listed on the bag.
Eating too late at night can give you nightmares. Fertilizing your lawn too late can also cause nightmares, like a weakened or dead lawn next spring. Late fertilization causes lawns to grow into the winter. Actively growing lawns can be damaged by early frosts.
Stop fertilizing centipede lawns with nitrogen around Sept. 1 and other lawns around Sept. 15. This gives them time to prepare before we expect the first frost.
You will not always damage your lawn if you fertilize later. However, you run a greater risk of injury after these dates. Some lawn care companies fertilize later, but they will probably use very low rates or fertilizers that are low in nitrogen to prevent injury.
Winterizer fertilizers are common at this time of year. They supposedly supply potassium to help the lawn survive the winter. If the lawn was properly fertilized earlier in the year, the turf probably already has enough potassium to survive the winter. On well-fertilized turf, winterizers are probably unnecessary. Also if the fertilizer contains too much nitrogen and is applied too late, it can cause the problems I mentioned earlier.
The main thing lawns need now is proper watering. Water lawns deeply with three-quarter to one inch of water when the lawn dries out. This will probably be no more often than once a week now. Do not water every day or every other day. This can weaken the lawn causing it to die in the winter.
Be careful what you feed your lawn for supper. Put your lawn to bed well-fed and healthy, and it will be more likely to wake up ready to grow next spring.
Willie Chance works with the University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture.