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Friday, September 19, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 11/21/2012

Feed your lawn some yard scraps

KELLY HEIBREDER
IN THE GARDEN

Prepare to roast that big bird, mash the potatoes and bake some pies — it's time for an annual family tradition this weekend. It is also time to feed the lawn before winter settles in.

Prep the surface

As you get ready to prepare this feast for your lawn, you need to get the surface ready. Take a lesson from any chef, and they will tell you that starting with a clean surface is essential. The same technique can be used on your turf. So, if you haven't done it already, it is time to give that lawn its last mow of the year. It has stopped growing for the season and is ready to be put to bed.

Put the mower deck down a little lower, to cut the grass at about two-inches long. This will leave less space for disease to find a home on each of the blades during the winter. Now the surface is clean and ready for more.

The recipe

Your lawn has slowed into dormancy for the winter and it is time to give it a final feeding. Slow release winterizing fertilizer is what you are looking for. The first number will be high and that means the bag contains mostly nitrogen.

The second number is for phosphorus, which helps with root growth, and the third is for potassium, which will give a plant's flowers and fruits an extra boost. So you can see why you are looking for a bag of slow release fertilizer with a high first number. You will need some food for the roots too, so a typical slow release winterizer might have numbers like 20-2-6 or 10-0-15.

But you could also use a more natural approach to feeding your turf. Instead of bagging up that last layer of leaves, keep mowing them into your lawn. Once they are finely mulched, they will filter into the root system for the grass and give the roots some nutrients for the early spring.

Other natural fertilizers like bone meal, fish blood or chicken manure will help your turf. You will need to sprinkle it on your grass and rake it into the soil line for it to be effective on your lawn.

The directions

Once you have your special recipe together, take a walk around your yard with the fertilizer spreader. You will need to work off some of those calories from that huge Thanksgiving feast anyway, right?

You want to get this extra nutrition on the lawn after it has completely stopped growing, yet before the ground has a chance to freeze. The roots will store carbohydrates, kind of like a bear eating lots of food before he goes into hibernation. Those carbs will be ready to help your lawn green up quickly in the spring.

Time to enjoy

Once this last lawn chore is complete, you can pack away the left-over fertilizer and clean out the spreader. Sit back and kick your feet up for a few weeks and think about the things for which you are thankful. And as always, I am thankful for you, my readers. I love to hear about your projects, share your triumphs, learn from our mistakes, and most of all, try something new together each season. I can't wait until we talk again next week! Happy Thanksgiving.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com.



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