9 Best Fall Fertilizer for Lawns (Review & Guide)

Best Fall Fertilizer for Lawns Image

Fall can be an important recovery time when plants recuperate from the effects of the harsh summer weather. It also comes right before the daunting cold of winter.

Fertilizing your lawn during this time of the year can give your grass the resilience it needs to survive the cold winter months and thrive in spring.

With the best fall fertilizer for lawns, you can help rebuild the grass roots and strengthen their shoots in readiness for the impending cold. But what is the best fall fertilizer for lawns?

This article reviews the nine best fall lawn fertilizers and provides a detailed guide on choosing and using these products to help you get the most out of them.

Best Fall Fertilizer for Lawns

  1. Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuardBest overall
  2. Jonathan Green Winter SurvivalRunners up
  3. Espoma EOFW30 FertilizerBest fall fertilizer for cool-season grass
  4. Greenview Fall Lawn FertilizerBest fall grass fertilizer for a new lawn
  5. Scotts Turf Builder Fall FeedBest for killing actively growing weeds
  6. Fertilome WinterizerBest for controlling pre-emergent weeds
  7. Espoma All Seasons Lawn FoodBest all year round
  8. Safer Brand Ringer Lawn RestoreBest plant-based fall lawn food
  9. Scotts Natural Lawn FoodBest for all seasons and grass types

What’s the Best Fall Fertilizer for Grass?

Factors such as the climate and type of grass will directly determine what fertilizer to use in the fall.

Nonetheless, your best fall fertilizer should be high in Nitrogen and Potassium to help strengthen the lawn and make the grass hearty to survive the cold winter months.

The fertilizer must have adequate amounts of nitrogen which plants need throughout the year to stimulate leaf and shoot growth.

Most experts agree that fall is the most appropriate time of the year for applying high-nitrogen fertilizers to grass. So you will want to use a product such as 25-5-5 NPK or something similar.

What is the Recommended Fall Lawn Fertilizer N-P-K Ratio?

The best fall lawn fertilizer is high in Nitrogen and Potassium. This can be something like 16-4-8 contains 16 percent Nitrogen, 4 percent Phosphorus, and 8 percent Potassium.

The fertilizer NPK ratio is the ratio of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium in its formula, with each letter in the ratio representing the chemical symbol of each macronutrient.

N—Nitrogen

P—Phosphorus

K—Potassium

Each macronutrient benefits your lawn, garden plants, or yard grass differently.

Understanding the importance of each of these essential nutrients will help you understand why you need to apply a specific ratio in the fall.

Nitrogen

This macronutrient helps grass blades and plant leaves grow thick and strong, so it is required throughout the year.

However, early fall is the ideal time to apply high levels of nitrogen to the soil to benefit the lawn.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is responsible for promoting the growth of roots. You want to keep the levels of this essential nutrient low in the fall to prevent it from leaching into the soil and causing undesirable effects.

Potassium

This essential nutrient helps make your lawn and turf heartier by boosting the grass’ or plants’ ability to absorb the required nutrients and minerals from the soil.

When shopping for the best fall lawn fertilizer, an NPK ratio starting with a large number is recommended. This means the fertilizer is high in nitrogen.

The ratio can have a zero or a small number in the middle to represent low levels of phosphorus, but it should have some potassium indicated by a number at the end of the ratio.

Note that your grass may require all three macronutrients to survive the winter, depending on your soil and grass type.

So we recommend testing samples of the soil when deciding the best NPK ratio for your fall lawn fertilizer.

Types of Fall Lawn Fertilizers to Choose from

The fall fertilizer for grass can be one of two primary types: organic or synthetic.

Organic fall fertilizers for grass – these are fertilizers comprising purely organic ingredients from plants and animal sources.

They have the lowest toxicity levels and are safe to use around animals and children. However, they may work slowly compared to synthetic types. 

Synthetic fall fertilizers for lawns – these are fertilizers made from chemical or inorganic ingredients.

Such fertilizers are fast-acting and can give the desired results sooner. They are ideal for distressed lawns requiring quick restoration.

Unfortunately, they can be toxic if used in incorrect proportions, so you must be careful when using these fertilizers.

Fall lawn fertilizers can also be slow-release or quick-release.

Slow-release fall lawn fertilizer

Also called controlled-release fertilizer, this type releases a fixed amount of nutrients into the soil over an extended period.

This mode helps reduce the chances of over-fertilization since the fixed rate of releasing nutrients prevents it from overwhelming the grass at any point.

Controlled-release fertilizers are the best type to apply in the fall since they will remain in the soil during winter and benefit the lawn grass through spring.

Fertilizers with controlled-release nitrogen in the formula also have the added advantage of fighting weed growth throughout the year.

Quick-release fall lawn fertilizer

These are fertilizers designed to dissolve promptly and completely into the soil once applied. This way, they supply the grass with a quick burst of the required nutrients.

While they are ideal for short-term fertilization, you must reapply them within shorter intervals than their slow-release cousins.

Best Fall Fertilizer for Lawns Reviews

Since the best fertilizer for your lawn in fall depends on the soil and grass type, you need to have your soil sample tested for its nutrient content when determining the best fertilizer for your lawn.

Also, you will want to consider whether you have cool-season grass like fescue or warm-season grasses like St. Augustine or Bermuda grass.

What condition is the lawn; is it damaged from the effects of summer heat, or is it in good shape? These considerations will play a role in determining the best fall fertilizer for your lawn.

Nonetheless, some fertilizers will be beneficial across the board, cutting across these factors. Read along for our best picks of fertilizers to use in the fall.

1. Best overall – Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard

Fall is the best time of the year to supply your lawn with nitrogen, and no fertilizer has better amounts of Nitrogen than Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard.

With a 32-0-10 NPK, this fertilizer supplies your soil with just the right amount of this essential nutrient to survive the winter and thrive through spring.

The unique formula is also high in potassium, which encourages and promotes Nitrogen uptake and other essential micronutrients in the soil.

This combined action leads to quick recovery from the effects of summer and healthier development for the months to follow.

Pros

  • This fertilizer is formulated to suit all grass types.
  • It is formulated with nutrients that help the grass recover from the damaging effects of summer heat.
  • The high potassium content in this fertilizer helps improve your lawn’s water and nutrient uptake.
  • It is high coverage, feeding up to 5 000 square feet of yard.

Con

  • The fertilizer is unideal for young lawns due to its high Nitrogen content.

2. Runners up – Jonathan Green Winter Survival

Jonathan Green (12414) Winter Survival Fall Lawn Food - 10-0-20 Fall Lawn...
235 Reviews
Jonathan Green (12414) Winter Survival Fall Lawn Food - 10-0-20 Fall Lawn...
  • PERFECT FOR FALL USE - This fall lawn fertilizer has an analysis of 10-0-20. The high potassium formula promotes deep rooting and stores nutrients for spring. It also contains slow-release nitrogen that keeps your grass greener later into the year.
  • REPAIRS & PROTECTS - Winter Survival is the ideal fall fertilizer to use when repairing summer lawn damage. It also sets your lawn up for success throughout winter. A thick, healthy lawn in fall can ward off winter stress better.
  • PROMOTES EARLY SPRING GREEN-UP - If Winter Survival is spread early in the fall, a second application in the first week of November will safeguard your lawn over the winter resulting in a greener grass early next spring.
  • MULTIPLE USES - This winter lawn fertilizer provides nutrients to help boost newly seeded lawns as well as help established lawns grow thicker and greener grass with deeper roots.
  • COMPLETE COVERAGE - This 45 lb bag covers up to 15,000 sq. ft. and it can be applied to any type of turfgrass.

If you are looking for a hearty lawn, this fertilizer from Jonathan Green and Sons is for you.

It is exceptionally high in potassium, which maximizes the lawn’s uptake of nutrients and water right before the winter hits and slows everything.

Potassium plays a key role in nearly all essential processes necessary for plant and lawn sustenance in growth and reproduction.

The high potassium levels in the formula (10-0-20 NPK) make it perfect for fall use on lawns.

This essential macronutrient promotes accelerated root development, allowing the grass to take up and store enough nutrients to survive the winter and utilize the reserves through spring.

The formula also boasts adequate levels of controlled-release nitrogen that keeps the lawn greener later into the year.

Pros

  • The fertilizer is formulated to repair and protect the grass from summer damage.
  • The formula sets the lawn grass up for successful survival throughout winter.
  • Slow-release nitrogen and high potassium levels help promote early green-up in spring.
  • The fertilizer is ideal for established grass as well as seeded lawn.
  • It can work for any turf grass type.

Con

  • You must apply fertilizer as recommended to avoid burning your grass.

3. Best fall fertilizer for cool-season grass – Espoma EOFW30 Organic Fall Fertilizer

Espoma EOFW30 Organic Fall Fertilizer, 30-Pound
157 Reviews
Espoma EOFW30 Organic Fall Fertilizer, 30-Pound
  • 8-0-5 fertilizer analysis - 30 lb. bag
  • All natural winterizer lawn fertilizer
  • Extra potash for next year's spring greening
  • Feeds up to 5,000 sq. ft.

While this fertilizer does not contain the highest levels of any macronutrient, its slow-release formula means the plants will have just the right amount of nutrients through spring.

Thanks to slow-release nitrogen, the fertilizer is specially formulated to promote early spring greening.

The good balance of nitrogen and potassium in this fertilizer ensures thicker and denser grass in early spring. The manufacturer of this fertilizer also steers clear of harsh chemicals.

Espoma EOFW30 is an all-natural fertilizer comprising plant and animal-based ingredients that are safe for the environment, pets, and people.

Pros

  • The product is eco-friendly and made primarily from poultry manure.
  • It contains sulfate of potash in its formula, introducing natural sulfur and potassium and encouraging healthy soil nutrient production. This guarantees early spring greening.
  • Espoma EOFW30 is water-soluble, enhancing easier nutrient uptake by the grass.
  • It is high coverage, feeding up to 5,000 square feet of lawn.

Con

  • Some customers complain of stock running out at retail outlets like Amazon.

4. Best fall grass fertilizer for a new lawn – Greenview Fall Lawn Fertilizer

Greenview 2129858 Fairway Formula Fall Fertilizer - 22.5 lb - Covers 7,500...
214 Reviews
Greenview 2129858 Fairway Formula Fall Fertilizer - 22.5 lb - Covers 7,500...
  • Encourages turf root growth for winter hardiness and quick spring green-up
  • Promotes brilliant, deep green turf color with fewer clippings; no surge growth
  • Zero phosphate and nearly 60% slow release nitrogen formula helps protect our waterways
  • 22.5 lb. bag covers 7,500 sq. ft.
  • GreenView Yard Wide Guarantee: Your Satisfaction or Your Money Back

If you have a new lawn that you want to accelerate its growth just before the height of winter, Greenview Fall Lawn Fertilizer may be your perfect choice.

Its slow-release formula helps ensure the nutrients will never overwhelm your new grass with an instant burst.

This characteristic also helps ensure the essential nutrients remain in the soil much longer, saving you money and time in the long run.

With a 30-0-12 NPK, this fertilizer contains plenty of nitrogen to help build the energy reserves your lawn needs to survive the cold winter season.

It is specially formulated to encourage root growth for winter hardiness and timely green-up in spring.

Since the photosynthesis process and top growth slows in the late fall through winter, this high-Nitrogen fertilizer helps the grass to prepare enough nutrients that make their way into the roots and encourage their development.

Pros

  • The controlled release formula helps minimize the risk of fertilizer burn, making it ideal for younger lawns.
  • High potassium levels encourage better nutrient and water uptake to keep the lawn resilient through the winter.
  • The product is high-coverage, feeding up to 7,500 square feet of lawn. You can also have a 45-pound bag covering up to 15,000 square feet of yard.

Con

  • Some users find the instructions on the bag inadequate.

5. Best for killing actively growing weeds – Scotts Turf Builder Fall Weed and Feed

Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed and Feed 3: Covers up to 15,000...
6,445 Reviews
Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed and Feed 3: Covers up to 15,000...
  • Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed & Feed3 weed killer and lawn fertilizer controls weeds and feeds grass in the fall for a better lawn next spring
  • Fall weed and feed kills over 50 listed lawn weeds, including clover, dandelion, plantain, morning glory, chicory, evening primrose, and purslane
  • Apply weed control plus grass fertilizer to a wet lawn when weeds are actively growing and temperatures are consistently between 60°F and 90°F
  • Do NOT apply to the following grass types: St. Augustinegrass, Floratam, Dichondra, Lippia, Carpetgrass, Bentgrass
  • One 42.87 lb. bag of Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed & Feed3 covers 15,000 sq. ft.

If you have aggressive weeds like dandelion competing for space in your yard, Scotts Turf Builder fall weed and feed may be an excellent choice.

It is loaded with lawn food to nourish your grass and contains herbicides to kill and rid your yard of those intruding weeds.

The special formula is proven to get rid of more than 50 common lawn weeds as long as you apply it when the weeds are growing.

Just distribute the granules evenly across your yard using a broadcast spreader, preferably on wet grass. You want the granules in contact with the weed leaves for maximum effect.

Pros

  • Scotts Turf Builder fall weed and feed is multipurpose, killing weeds and nourishing your lawn simultaneously.
  • The product kills over 50 common turf weeds, making it a go-to weed control solution.
  • The product is formulated to repair damages sustained from the heat of summer months.
  • A single bag covers up to 15,000 square feet of turf.
  • The fertilizer is not available in some US states.

Con

  • This multipurpose fertilizer is not recommended for grass types such as Floratam, St. Augustinegrass, Lippia, and Bentgrass.

6. Best for Controlling Pre-emergent Weeds – Fertilome Winterizer for Established Lawns

Fertilome (10900) Winterizer for Established Lawns 10-0-14 (20 LBS)
19 Reviews
Fertilome (10900) Winterizer for Established Lawns 10-0-14 (20 LBS)
  • Contains active herbicides and fertilizer for a 2 in 1 benefit, saving application time and money.
  • Designed for application in late summer or early fall.
  • Provides 4 months of preventative pre-emergent control of crabgrass and other broadleaf weeds.
  • For southern grass including but not limited to Bahia, Bermudagrass, Centipede, St. Augustinegrass.
  • 16lbs covers up to 5,000 sq ft. Do not apply more than 9.2 lbs. per 1,000 sq ft per application.

If your yard tends to suffer the invasion of broadleaf, opportunistic annual weeds like crabgrass, you can use this Fertilome Winterizer to keep them at bay.

This fertilizer boasts a special 2-in-1 formula designed to feed your fall lawn while preventing the onset of opportunistic weeds that might take up your lawn space.

With a 10-0-14 NPK, this fertilizer has the right amounts of the essential macronutrients required by fall grass.

The high potassium levels do an excellent job of accelerating your lawn’s nutrient uptake to store enough for the slow winter months.

While the Nitrogen levels in this fertilizer aren’t the highest, its combination with high potassium levels creates just the right mix for your lawn.

The product is also loaded with essential micronutrients like copper, boron, manganese, and iron that your grass and plants need for healthy growth.

Specifically, iron is essential for achieving and maintaining the lawn’s dark green shade.

Pros

  • The product provides up to four months of preventative control against stubborn and opportunistic weeds.
  • Moderate macronutrient levels help minimize the chances of over-fertilization.
  • The blend of lawn food and active herbicides in one product helps save you money and application time.
  • The fertilizer is ideal for several southern grass species, including Bermudagrass, Bahia, St. Augustinegrass, and Centipede.
  • It is highly versatile – you can apply it to shrubs, grass, trees, and flowering plants.

Con

  • It may not be ideal for new lawns

7. Best all year round – Espoma All Seasons Lawn Food

For homeowners who prefer all-natural fertilizers designed to be used all year, Espoma All Seasons Lawn Food may be your best bet.

It is loaded with natural organic ingredients to supply your lawn with the needed nutrients for months.

The fertilizer contains relatively high levels of nitrogen that your lawn grass requires to make it healthy and better prepared for the harsh cold of the winter.

The bio-tone slow-release formula means the fertilizer will continue feeding your grass through spring. This ensures early spring green-up and a healthy lawn throughout the year.

The formula also contains non-staining iron for deeper, greener grass in your yard or garden.

Pros

  • The product is an excellent all-season lawn food, thanks to an organic formula and a balanced blend of macronutrients and essential micronutrients.
  • The natural formula is safe for kids and pets, so you won’t have to worry about what happens to your beloved young ones or pets getting to the lawn after applying the fertilizer.
  • The slow-acting formula means this fertilizer will not burn your lawn. Therefore, you do not have to worry about applying a strict amount at a time.
  • This fertilizer is usable in any season.

Con

  • Being an organic formula means you may have to wait a while for the results to show. It just won’t straightaway.

8. Best plant-based, odorless fall lawn food – Safer Brand Ringer Lawn Restore

Safer Brand Ringer Lawn Restore, Lawn Fertilizer - 25 Pounds
683 Reviews
Safer Brand Ringer Lawn Restore, Lawn Fertilizer - 25 Pounds
  • Plant-based nutrients - no poultry litter or bio-solids
  • No Manures/No Odor
  • Covers up to 5,000 sq.ft.
  • Rapid greening and plant response

If you are sensitive to odors, Safer Brand Ringer lawn restoring fertilizer may be the best choice for you.

The product is all-natural, with entirely plant-based nutrients and no biosolids or poultry litter that could cause a strong odor.

Since it is a natural product, it is safe for your environment and will not cause any risk of pollution.

Your kids and pets can play in the yard immediately after application without any risk of intoxication.

With a 10-0-6 NPK ratio, the formula contains no phosphorus, so it won’t present any risk of leaching and underwater contamination.

If your lawn suffered noticeably from the summer heat, this might be your best choice of fertilizer.

It is designed to aid speedy root development and recovery from the effects of harsh weather.

Pros

  • It has no phosphorus, making it ideal for state laws restricting high-phosphorus fertilizers.
  • Thanks to a slow-acting formula, it presents no risk of fertilizer burns. As a result, it will not affect your plants even if you apply more than recommended.
  • The balanced mix of Nitrogen and Potassium does an excellent job of supporting a healthy root system.
  • The product is odorless, making it perfect for people with smell sensitivities.
  • It is fast-acting, promoting rapid plant response and greening.

Con

  • You may have to pay more for this product than other similar fertilizers.

9. Best for all seasons and grass types – Scotts Natural Lawn Food

Scotts Natural Lawn Food is a go-to product for those who want a one-stop solution in organic fertilizers. It works in any season and any grass type.

The fertilizer is OMRI listed, meaning it is certified as safe, with purely natural ingredients. You don’t have to wait after applying it to your lawn—you can use it immediately afterward.

It won’t affect your kids and pets, either. They can freely walk on the lawn after you have applied the fertilizer without facing any risk of chemical burns.

The special formula acts fast to make your lawn thick and green. It is also easy to apply with a rotary spreader or Scotts drop for the best results.

Once applied, you can expect results within 1 to 3 weeks, thanks to a fast-acting formula.

Pros

  • You can use Scotts Natural Lawn Food with new lawns, applying it right before seeding or after.
  • The bag contains detailed use instructions to simplify your work and help you get the most out of your purchase.

Con

  • Some users complain of their dogs licking the fertilizer, mistaking it for food.

Why Fertilize Your Lawn During Fall?

Fall is a perfect time to fertilize the lawn for many reasons. This section will discuss some of the leading reasons that make it the best time to feed your grass with some fall lawn food.

  • Fall fertilizers support grass root growth, leading to a healthier, thicker, and greener lawn in spring. Such healthy grass can significantly increase your home’s curb appeal.
  • The fall season is characterized by dewy mornings delivering just the right amount of moisture to support the absorption of fertilizer. This situation creates optimum conditions for the grass to take up and utilize the lawn food.
  • Late fall and the chilly winter months are characterized by slow metabolism and reduced growth. Your lawn grass needs help to build the resilience needed to survive these suboptimal conditions, which is where fall lawn fertilizers come in.
  • Fall fertilizers support the recovery of your lawn grass from the effects of the harsh summer sun. The hot weather can take a toll on your lawn, and unless you support the recovery of your lawn, it can go into the winter dormancy period with the damage from summer.

You want your grass to be healthy by the time it enters winter. So you need to use fertilizer to accelerate your cool-season grasses’ recovery from the stresses suffered in summer.

  • The nutrients your grass and garden plants accumulate and store in their food reserves during fall can go a long way in helping them resist and defend themselves against winter disease and injury. Just like animals, your lawn requires energy to ward off disease.
  • Fertilization in late fall will help ensure your lawn has a better color in winter and an enhanced early green-up in spring.
  • Fall fertilization is also essential for replenishing soil nutrients in depleted garden beds.

When to Use Fall Fertilizer for Lawns

When applying lawn fertilizer, you can target early fall or late fall, or both, depending on the fertilizer you are using and the type of grass involved.

Since you should generally fertilize twice in the fall, consider applying two different options with varying nitrogen levels or a single fertilizer twice if it is the all-seasons type.

However, this rule will not apply if the fertilizer is formulated specifically for a single application, such as in early or late fall.

Applying fertilizer in early fall

When applying the first batch of fall lawn fertilizer, the rule of thumb is to do it sometime in early September or slightly later in mid-month (September).

If your area experiences hot seasons, you can apply the first fall lawn fertilizer in late September or early October.

For this first application, ensure you use a product with a high Nitrogen proportion in its formula.

Applying the second batch of fall fertilizer

After the first fall fertilizer is on the ground, consider waiting about four to six weeks before applying the second batch.

Ideally, this should be mid to late October, with mid-October being the ideal time for the second application of your fall lawn fertilizer.

For this second application, consider using a product with a high proportion of potassium in its formula.

More importantly, the late fall fertilizer should hit the ground about two to three weeks before the ground is frozen.

You can always look up the first date frost is expected in your location and plan with this date.

If you live in a place experiencing hot temperatures, you can apply the second fall lawn fertilizer as late as early November.

Additionally, you should fertilize cool-season lawn a bit later than warm-season lawns.

Applying fertilizer once in the fall

Some homeowners also choose to fertilize their lawns only once in the fall as part of their fall lawn maintenance—this is perfectly okay if you choose the right fertilizer.

If you apply your lawn fertilizer once in the fall, ensure you go for a high-Nitrogen product such as the Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard or Greenview Fall Lawn Fertilizer.

In any case, the exact timing of your fertilizer application in the fall will typically vary depending on the climate in your area and the weather conditions around you.

How to Apply the Best Fall Lawn Fertilizer

The objective when applying any fall fertilizer is to distribute it evenly across the lawn.

Unless you are using a quick-release fertilizer spray, you will want to cast the granulated product with a broadcast spreader.

So, here is a quick rundown of the tools and supplies you will need to complete this job.

  • Fall lawn fertilizer of your choice
  • Applicator, preferably a broadcast spreader or sprayer
  • A pair of hand gloves
  • Respirator (for spray fertilizers)

Steps to follow

Whether it is fall or spring fertilizer, each product comes with separate instructions from the manufacturer. Therefore, following those instructions is the best way to apply any fertilizer.

Nonetheless, here is an overview of the steps that should apply to any product you will likely use.

Step 1: Go over the instructions

Critical instructions you need will typically be on the product label. So the first thing you want to do is read those instructions.

Even if you have used the same product before, reading the product label is crucial each time because fertilizer manufacturers can often change their products from time to time.

Any such changes influence how much you must use and the recommended application process.

Reading the instructions will help you understand how the chosen fertilizer should work on your lawn and how best to use it.

Step 2: Check your area’s weather forecast

Some fertilizers need to go on dry soil, followed by adequate rainfall of sprinkled water to get absorbed into the soil.

However, most fall fertilizers need to go on wet soil for optimum absorption. Once you have read the label and learned about the kind of fertilizer you have, you can plan with the rainfall for the best results.

If the product requires damp soil, you can check with the weatherman to see when rainfall has been forecast. Once you have that information, you can arrange to apply the product after the rainfall.

If no rainfall has been forecast, within the timeline of applying the lawn fertilizer, you can use the sprinkler to wet the ground before feeding the lawn.

Planning with the weatherman will help you give your newly fertilized yard enough time to absorb the lawn food without the rain washing it away.

Step 3: Remove any debris and dry leaves from your lawn

Your fertilizer needs to go on a clean lawn surface. Large debris, such as tree leaves, can obstruct the granules, keeping them from reaching their target. So ensure you start by sweeping all that debris away.

Alternatively, you could powder the raked leaves and mix them with fertilizer. Such powdered leaves can benefit your soil.

Step 4: Ready the spreader

Once the lawn is ready for the fertilizer, prepare your rotary lawn spreader. If it is new, you will have to assemble it first according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The user manual should also show you how to set the spreader for the best results. We recommend following these instructions to get the unit ready for the task before filing the hopper with the fertilizer. 

Step 5: Apply the fertilizer 

To apply the product, you will need to walk slowly with the rotary lawn spreader after filling its hopper with the chosen fertilizer. 

The pace at which you walk will depend on the setting of the spreader. Pushing the spreader as you walk slowly over the lawn distributes the fertilizer by releasing it into the lawn at a fixed rate at a time, so your walking pace should be constant for even distribution of the product. 

Step 6: Remove any fertilizer spillover 

Some fertilizer might end up on your patio, driveway, or walkways. You don’t want to leave these on these surfaces for long, as they can stain the asphalt or concrete.

So, consider removing them as soon as you finish applying the product to your lawn. 

How to Choose the Best Fall Fertilizer for Lawns 

While a checklist of the best fall fertilizers for lawns will help give you a helpful starting point, you still have to narrow it down to one or two final picks. 

This guide provides you with our top recommendation, but knowing how to arrive at such a final pick can go a long way. So here is how to choose the best fertilizer for your lawn. 

Go for high-nitrogen content

Early fall is the best time to apply lots of nitrogen to your lawn. This high proportion of nitrogen will support the growth and development of your lawn through the season, into the winter and guarantee early green-up in spring.

Your grass requires a good supply of this essential macronutrient to grow healthy and develop stronger roots essential for surviving the winter.

Pay attention to the grass species

Some fertilizers are recommended for specific grass types and not others. Using the wrong fertilizer on your grass will likely damage the lawn and cause time and cost losses.

You can easily avoid such costly losses by reading the product label for any warnings and the grass types the product is recommended for.

Overall, cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass will benefit the most from fall lawn fertilizers.

As such, look for a product formulated for such grass types if you have them in your lawn.

Fall lawn fertilizer tips & Mistakes to Avoid

While fall fertilization is essential for the overall health, growth, and development of the grass in your lawn, you must be mindful of the instructions and directions that manufacturers include on the product packaging.

These directions can help you avoid under-fertilization or over-feeding the lawn with your chosen fertilizer.

Tips to help you get the most out of your fall lawn fertilizer:

  • Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in mid-to-late September and a potassium-rich product in late October or early November.
  • Aerate the lawn early in September or mid-September to loosen up the soil if it is compacted.
  • Prevent weed growth by applying a pre-emergent herbicide to the lawn shortly after applying your fall fertilizer to prevent the onset of winter weeds.
  • Water and mow your lawn grass regularly throughout the fall to allow the grass to rebuild strong roots and recover from the punishing effects of the summer heat.

Here are the Mistakes to Avoid When Using Fall Lawn Fertilizer:

Buying more or less fertilizer than you require

Ideally, your fall lawn fertilizer won’t go bad if you store it properly and keep it around from year to year. However, keeping unused fertilizer around introduces the question of storage.

This can be an added challenge if you have limited space in your home or garage to store that extra baggage.

On the contrary, buying too little fertilizer would mean you will not have enough for your garden.

So, ensure you calculate the amount of space you must fertilize before going out shopping for fertilizer.

Not doing a soil test

Sending samples of your lawn or yard soil to a laboratory for testing is highly recommended.

The test results paint a clear picture of your soil profile and can reveal the missing nutrients that you must replenish through the fertilizer.

Doing a soil test can also help you avoid the risk of over-feeding your lawn with fertilizer. For example, if your soil is rich in phosphorus, using a product with no phosphorus would be best.

Applying fertilizer with a high proportion of the nutrient already in the soil in large amounts will likely overwhelm the soil and cause fertilizer burns.

You can easily avoid that risk by testing the soil to determine what your soil needs to target in your fertilizer purchase.

A soil test will also likely tell you if your soil needs specific micronutrients. Various fertilizers include these essential nutrients that plants require in small amounts.

Knowing the exact ones missing can help you take a more targeted approach and plan better.

Not checking the fertilizer regulations of your state

Every state has rules and regulations governing fertilizer use within its boundaries. For instance, some jurisdictions restrict phosphorus fertilizer use on lawns.

So, familiarizing yourself with such laws can help you remain compliant in fertilizer use.

FAQs

What is the best time to put down fall fertilizer?

The best time to apply fall lawn fertilizer is early to mid-September for Nitrogen-rich fertilizers and later October for potassium-rich fertilizers. Overall, August to November is the ideal time to put down fall lawn fertilizer.

When to apply the last fertilizer in the fall?

The last fertilizer in the fall should be put in the ground about two to three weeks before the ground is frozen. This means you should check the weather in your area to determine the first day when frost is expected.

Can you fertilize in the fall?

Yes. Fertilizing in the fall is recommended to help the grass recover from the damage caused by the hot summer months. The fertilizer also supplies the lawn with nitrogen and other nutrients the grass requires to live through winter.

Fall lawn fertilizer schedule

Fall fertilizer should be scheduled between August and November. This should be about two to three weeks before winter and six to eight weeks after the summer feeding.

What is the best fertilizer for grass in the summer?

Low-nitrogen fertilizers are the best fertilizers for summer lawns. They feed the grass while avoiding the risk of fertilizer-related burns.

What is the Best Fertilizer for Grass in the Fall?

Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard is our top pick of the best fertilizer for grass in the fall.

With a 32-0-10 NPK ratio, it contains high proportions of nitrogen that plants need to grow and develop deeper, stronger roots. It also has just the right levels of potassium to promote nutrient and water uptake.

This fertilizer delivers incredible results and supports grass recovery from the effects of the hot summer months.

Even more importantly, Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard is formulated to suit all grass types, so you can be sure it will work for your lawn irrespective of the type of grass in your yard.