Everything You Need to Know About Winter Fertilizer

Grass covered in light snow.

Properly winterizing your lawn takes planning, and winter fertilizer is a major component of ensuring a healthy spring lawn. Winter lawn care can be a bit of a mystery for homeowners, especially when it comes to knowing what type of fertilizer to use and when to apply it, but it doesn’t have to be. Applying the right type of winter lawn fertilizer at the right time will protect your lawn throughout the winter and prepare it for spring.

Winter fertilizer, also known as winterizing your lawn, is specially formulated to protect your lawn from the harsh cold of the season. Let’s review what it is and why your lawn needs it.

Why Fertilize Your Lawn in Winter?

Grass needs nutrients all year round, not just in the growing seasons. Winter fertilizing will help you have a beautiful lawn in the spring and minimize the time you spend fighting the damage caused by harsh winter weather. However, all fertilizers should not be treated the same. In order for winter fertilizing to be effective, you need to choose a fertilizer that’s right for your type of soil and grass. Let’s review a few of the different types of fertilizer.

Types of Winter Fertilizer

Landscaper applying fertilizer to lawn.

Winter lawn fertilizer has the same nutrients as the fertilizer you use the rest of the year but in different amounts. The ratio of nutrients in winter fertilizer is designed to support the change of grass from blade to root growth. Root growth will help to fortify and protect your lawn throughout the winter. It ensures that your grass stores enough nutrients to be ready for spring and improves its winter hardiness.

Matching Fertilizer to Soil Type and Grass Species

Depending on the type of soil and grass in your region, your lawn will require a fertilizer with a specific combination of essential nutrients. If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to have your soil tested to determine the composition of nutrients that already exist. This, combined with the type of grass you have will determine the essential nutrients it needs to remain healthy during the winter months. Most winter lawn fertilizers contain a higher amount of nitrogen to support root health, but the amount of nitrogen will be determined by what’s already in your soil, which is why a soil test is important. Find The Grounds Guys® nearest you, and we’ll ensure that your lawn has the right fertilizer to protect your grass during the winter months.

When to Apply Winter Fertilizer

Close-up view of paper bag with fertilizer on green grass.

Preparing your lawn for winter should begin in late fall. The best time for applying winter fertilizer is when the shoot growth of your turf stops and before the ground freezes.

To get the most benefit, it’s important to get the timing just right when applying winter lawn fertilizer. The best winter fertilizer contains water-soluble nitrogen with a quick-release action. This ensures that the fertilizer does its job, gets properly absorbed, and doesn’t contaminate the groundwater.

Common Mistakes to Avoid with Winter Fertilizer

There are several common mistakes homeowners make when winterizing their lawns. Here are a few to avoid:

  • Putting winter grass fertilizer down too early or too late.
  • Putting down too much winter fertilizer for grass.
  • Using too much winter fertilizer.

With The Grounds Guys on the job, you won’t have to worry about making these common mistakes. Our teams of local lawn care professionals provide expert fertilization services backed by the Neighbourly Done Right Promise™, which means we’ll get the job done right. We’ll ensure that your lawn is ready for the winter season, so contact us today for a free estimate!

FAQ About Winter Fertilization

Can I use regular fertilizer in winter?

Winter fertilizer is very similar to fertilizer used during the spring and fall; it just has the nutrients in different amounts. Winter fertilizer is higher in nitrogen than fertilizer used during other times of the year. It is not recommended to use the same fertilizer that you use the rest of the year to winterize your lawn.

Can I apply winter fertilizer if there's snow on the ground?

No! Once it snows and the ground has frozen over, a winter fertilizer won’t do your grass any good. The fertilizer can’t be absorbed into the lawn to protect it for the coming spring. You’ll likely face additional damage to your lawn if you try to fertilize after the ground is frozen.

Can I apply winter fertilizer to dormant plants?

Yes! But you should fertilize your plants in the early stages of dormancy with a slow-release fertilizer. Complete this task before the ground freezes over. Otherwise, the fertilizer will not do your plants any good. Fertilizing your plants in the winter helps to protect the roots, which are still growing even when the ground is frozen.

Is winter fertilization suitable for all grass types?

No. Winter fertilizer is designed for cool-season grasses. The growth of these grasses peaks in the fall and they require more potassium in the winter to remain healthy. Summer grasses, such as Bermuda or Zoysia, go dormant in the winter and don’t need to be fertilized until just before their growing season in the spring and early summer.