To maintain a vigorous, green lawn, beautiful landscaping, and healthy trees a fall fertilization program is necessary. But, a fall fertilization program doesn't have to be complicated; in fact, it can be the only fertilization your landscape needs once it is established.
The first step it to get a soil test done. You only have to do this test once every 3-5 years and it tends to be very inexpensive.
Go to the extension website at http://www.ag.purdue.edu/counties/putnam.... Then click on the home yard and garden link to get the soil testing page. You will find all the information you need to perform and send in a soil test.
A soil test helps determine what types of soil amendments you should add. There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration before you decide to go and fertilize your landscape.
First, what are your goals for your landscape? If you want a dark green, dense lawn it will require more fertilizer which in turn can be more expensive and more labor intensive.
Second, which species of plants are you going to fertilize? Trees and lawns have different nutritional requirements.
The third consideration is the weather. If the summer has been wet, you will need to add more fertilizer to maintain healthy growth.
Fourth, you want to consider your soil type. On some soil types you may need to add more fertilizer to maintain healthy growth. This is where your soil test information will come in handy to determine fertilizer needs.
Fifth, take into consideration the age and quality of the plants. Newer plants need more fertilizer then those in a well-established landscape.
Finally, you want to take into consideration the amount of mulch or compost that has been added to the landscape. Compost and mulch help the soil and may require you to add less fertilizer.
For a healthy lawn next year try to fertilize about one pound of nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square feet in a slow release form in September. If there is a wet autumn and the weather is still fairly warm go back and fertilize again using 1-1.5 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square feet in early November. This additional application will ensure that the plants get enough nitrogen and that not all the fertilizer has been washed away by rain water runoff.
Adding potassium and phosphorus should be done according to the soil test you have taken. Potassium and phosphorus don't move in the soil like nitrogen does so you may not need to add as much.
Fall is also a great time to control broad leaf weeds such as dandelions for the next year.
Fall fertilizing spring bulbs will make the bulbs bloom more beautifully next spring. Be sure that you have divided spring bulbs about once every 3-4 years to maintain their vigor. Late September and early October are the best times for fertilizing existing beds of spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips.
If bulbs have been fertilized in the past, there is often plenty of phosphorus and potassium in the soil. If the soil needs phosphorus and potassium, use a complete fertilizer, such as (10-10-10, 9-9-6, etc.) at the rate of 2.5 pounds per 100 square feet. This would equal one rounded teaspoon per square foot.
If phosphorus and potassium are not needed, blood meal makes an excellent fertilizer for spring bulbs. It should be applied at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet or 1 teaspoon per square foot. Turf fertilizers such as a 27-3-3 or 30-3-3 can be used, but cut the rate by a third.
Fall is an excellent time to fertilize trees and shrubs, too. This will help them recover from this year's wild weather. A fall fertilizer application helps tree overcome disease and insect issues.
When fertilizing you want to use a slow release fertilizer. It needs to be applied in the drip line of the canopy of the plant. Again add about 1-2 pounds of nitrogen to 1000 square feet.
Use your soil test to determine if you need to add potassium and phosphorus. If you use a complete fertilizer with potassium and phosphorus find a fertilizer with around 10-16 percent nitrogen for woody plants.
I would avoid using tree fertilizer spikes as they can actually harm the tree roots. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the entire canopy area.
I hope this helps you have a better looking and healthier landscape next year. This article was written in part by Wade Upham from Kansas State University. For more information please contact Ann Delchambre at 653-8411 or email email@example.com or facebook Putnam County agriculture -- Purdue University.
Sept. 21 -- Week 4 of Walking Wednesdays 5 p.m. Start at Deer Meadow School
Sept. 28 -- Week 5 of Walking Wednesdays 5 p.m. Start at Tzouanakis Intermediate School
Sept. 29 -- Putnam County Extension Homemakers Achievement Night 6:30 at the Fairgrounds
Oct. 4 -- Extension Homemaker Leader Lesson "The Family Cost of Caregiving" 7 p.m. at the Extension Office
Oct. 5 -- Week 6 of Walking Wednesdays 5 p.m. DePauw Nature Park -- start at south end of parking lot
Oct. 6 -- First class of Fall Dining with Diabetes Cooking Classes (pre-registration required)