Memorial Day triggers fertilization

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.      

The Memorial Day weekend is often used as a reminder for a fertilizer application to the turf before we launch into the air conditioner season. If you haven’t applied a fertilizer yet this spring or maybe applied fertilizer in mid-April and want to sustain the color and quality of your turf throughout the summer, the application of a slow release fertilizer in the next week is advisable. An application of a slow release fertilizer at this time would provide a gradual “feeding” of the turf over the summer months. There is a diversity of products available including natural organic sources and polymer or sulfur coated urea products. I would avoid using the fast release products, such as urea, at this time because it will cause a rapid flush of growth and will not sustain the desired response over a long period of time. Don’t forget to fertilizer those newly seeded areas as the young seedlings are just getting going in life and could use some food on their way to turf adulthood.

Another potential benefit of a fertilizer application now is that one of our favorite diseases, dollar spot, is certainly going to be popping up in the relatively near future. Dollar spot, especially in home lawn turf, is often associated with low nitrogen levels or under fertilized turf. A fertilizer application now would give your turf a “head start” and prepare it for the coming summer stresses.

As always, remember to avoid spreading any fertilizer particles on impervious surfaces such as driveways or sidewalks. If particles do land on the driveway, make sure to sweep them back into the turf in order to avoid washing the particles into the gutter, which ultimately may lead to a lake or stream.

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