cool-season grass (kbb & tall fescue) - Summer fertlizing?

andyx123July 28, 2013

I have a cool-season grass (kbb & tall fescue). Should I fertilize in the middle of summer? I am in VA.

Late spring I applied SBM and that's it. Is there any reason why I should/shouldn't add more SBM, Alfalfa or Milorganite (I buy whatever is cheaper) now in the middle of summer?

The grass is not dormant yet.

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I wouldn't. In fact, our Extension only promotes fertilizing lawns in fall, late fall...and possibly a light feeding in the spring. If you are having hot temps, your lawn is stressed. Never fertilize a stressed lawn. Wait until Labor Day and then give the lawn a good shot of nitrogen, and again in mid to late November. Don't use a slow release at that time. The plants need to take up as much N as they can and as quickly as possible to store in their roots over winter. That will ensure a really nice show come springtime.

Also, your fescue creates new blades from little nubs, called tillers, at the crown of the plant. If there is ample nitrogen in the roots over winter, those tillers will keep multiplying as long as the ground isn't frozen, giving you a much thicker lawn in spring.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 4:38PM
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If you can find Soy Bean Meal that is not Genetically Engineered you could apply some of that now as well as some Alfalfa, but not the Milorganite, which is a fertilizer rather then a soil food. How well the SBM or Alfalfa will work will depend on how active the Soil Food Web in the soil is and that depends on, among other things, the soil moisture levels.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 7:12AM
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Up here in PA, I just dropped the first of my fall fertilizations (soybean meal). Er, fall? Yep, it takes about three weeks to unlock and begin feeding the lawn at any decent rate, so this won't be starting to work until the third week of August.

Which still isn't fall, but usually marks the time when we drop from summer heat to more moderate temperatures.

Your date would be later than mine, but I'm not sure by how much.

Post this, I'll hit it every month through October to supply sufficient protein to break into nitrogen for fall.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 8:03PM
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The concept of "feeding" the lawn comes from those that practice and tout the synthetic fertilizer programs, as does that idea that lawns need to be "fed" 4 times a year.
Wrap your mind around the concept that you feed the Soil Food Web which will feed your turf grass.
Perhaps this program from Growing a Greener World might be of some help.

Here is a link that might be useful: GGW 305

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 7:41AM
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Except it really does stutter and halt if you don't keep it up. I've had years where I've ditched hundreds of pounds per thousand square feet of grain. This year isn't one of them.

My May first soybean application petered out visibly around July first. Given that we were expecting a very hot July, I didn't want to spark growth that I'd have to water, so I held off. That turned out to be a good idea as I took minimal damage this year in some pretty brutal weather.

To repair damage and make sure the lawn can store carbs for winter I hit hard in fall with soybean meal and, later in the season when the weather cools, Milorganite (I need the iron anyway per my soil test).

Here in PA I also winterize in late November, but that's synthetic.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 10:52AM
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Depending on a number of factors feeding the soil in late November can be a good idea and it is not a synthetic thing. The Soil Food Web can still be quite active in late November and turf grasses store, in the crowns, nutrients so they are there and ready for spring growth.
However, spreading a high Nitrogen product on the soil if there is a fairly typical rainy November can mean most of the N is flushed down into the water table, the ground water , where it becomes a source of nitrate poisoning for people downstream.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 6:36AM
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Yes, I'm aware of that, thanks so much for chiming in.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 10:26AM
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