Why Fertilizing Your Lawn in Late Fall or Early Winter Will Improve Your Northern VA Grass

lawn-technician-granular-fertilizer-6By the time fall or winter rolls around, a lot of homeowners have stopped thinking about what their Northern Virginia lawn might need to perform its best. In fact, they might assume there is no point to be fertilizing the lawn in fall or winter—that it’s too late to do any good. 

But the truth is, you have to start at some point. 

If you’re looking at an ugly lawn in the fall or winter and assuming you might as well just wait until the spring, there may just be some important lawn care services that you can have performed now which would set you off on the best possible foot come spring.

We understand that a lot of homeowners don’t know much about their options or why they might even want to consider late fall or early winter lawn care services. 

We also know there are a lot of different messages and products out there and it can be confusing to know what’s right. That’s exactly why we’ve put together this article that will help you to better understand what winter lawn treatment your lawn may need to thrive.

Why Fertilizing the Lawn in Fall or Winter is Important

Late fall/early winter fertilization is basically the last round of fertilizer that is applied to your lawn in the calendar year. This is arguably one of the most important applications of fertilizer because it sets the foundation for the winter as well as the coming spring. 

lawn technician fertilizing lawn in northern Virginia

Using late fall fertilizer (which is also sometimes called “winterizer”) has several important benefits:

  • As the blades of the grass slow growth, grass plants utilize nutrients like Phosphorus to improve their root system. 
  • With late-season fertilization, nutrients like Potassium helps grass plants to be less likely to be damaged from cold weather and some wintertime turf diseases.
  • Nutrients such as Nitrogen, are stored in the soil, causing grass plants to “green-up” earlier in the spring and can sometimes retain more color in the winter months.

At Rock Water Farm, we are typically fertilizing lawns through the end of November (or early December). We sometimes have homeowners who contact us around this time and assume it’s not worth fitting in that one round of fertilization but we always tell them it is. As we said earlier, you have to start somewhere. Holding off on fertilizing until the spring just sets you back even farther. 

Lime Applications in the Winter

Following the late fall fertilization service, we move into offering limestone treatments in December. Due to the acidic nature of Northern Virginia soil, limestone treatments are a valuable remedy to help get your lawn in better shape.

Unfortunately, lawns that grow in acidic soil will always remain at a disadvantage. Nutrients, whether naturally found in the soil or supplemented with regular fertilizer applications, will only get partially utilized by grass plants in low, acidic soil pH. This can often result in lawns not being as green as they should be, and overall thinning of your grass. But this is where limestone can make a huge difference. 

Applying limestone to your lawn will help your soil to release valuable nutrients to your grass plants and help you see fewer weeds (which thrive in low pH environments). 

Can I Perform These Late Fall/Early Winter Services Myself?

If you find yourself already in the fall or winter and you have not been utilizing a professional lawn care program up until this point, you might be thinking about just taking a DIY approach for these services (at least for now). 

But this could end up doing more harm than good. Here are a few reasons why it’s better to leave late fall and early winter lawn care services to a pro.

DIY Products Are Often Subpar

The products that you could buy at the store for fertilizing your lawn in fall or early winter are subpar to the commercial-grade products that a professional has access to. When it comes to such a valuable service, wouldn’t you rather just get your lawn off on the best foot possible? Yes, you are starting the season later than others. But getting in that last professional round of fertilization with a professional and then transitioning right into their spring program makes a lot more sense than trying to save a few bucks with poor quality products that probably aren’t going to do much good for your lawn.

bag of professional lawn fertilizer

The same goes for limestone products. Contrary to what you may think, not all lime is created equal. It’s important that you choose the right limestone product in order to get the best results. But chances are, you might have no idea what product is best for your lawn.

DIY Can Lead to Mistakes

Lawn fertilization and limestone treatments might sound simple enough but there is plenty of room for error. Surely you’ve heard of “fertilizer burn,” which is a fairly common mistake that homeowners make when they apply too much fertilizer to their lawn and destroy it. 

While limestone is not going to damage your lawn like fertilizer, we do find that many homeowners who take a DIY approach to limestone don’t know how much to apply. This is problematic as it’s not going to work if you don’t apply the right amount. 

The vast majority of the time, homeowners under-apply, meaning the limestone is doing nothing to help their lawn. It ends up being a waste of time and money. And conversely, if you do apply the correct amount, it can be quite labor intensive with most DIY equipment.

RWF Soil Test Results

So, how can you even know that the right amount is being applied? At Rock Water Farm we utilize a soil test on every single property so that there is no guesswork involved. We are making accurate and data-based decisions.

DIY is a Lot of Work

Besides being more complex than a lot of homeowners realize, lawn care can also be a lot of work. Dragging around bags of product or even just being out working on your lawn in the cold weather can be taxing—and not a way that you want to spend your limited free time. 

For just a little bit of an investment, you can get started with a professional lawn care service now (and then plan to continue with that service come spring).

What if It’s Too Late?

If you’re reading this article in the fall or early winter, there may still be time to perform valuable lawn care services that will still provide benefits. However, if it’s later in December or January or February, at that point we would just hold off on lawn care services until the spring. 

But that’s not to say that there’s nothing you can be doing right now. You can get started on a professional lawn care program during this downtime in order to ensure that your lawn is on the schedule and treated as soon as the season starts.

lawn forest pansy redbud 1

That is important as a lot of people who drag their feet on signing up for a professional lawn care service wind up calling after the season is already underway and at that point you may have already missed valuable services that could have been performed. It is one of those things that is simply not worth putting off any longer. You’re thinking about it and you know you want to do something to start to fix your lawn, so why not get started today?

Of course, you can also use this time to research lawn care companies and programs and make the best possible choice for your lawn.

Choosing a Program that Features Comprehensive Lawn Care

There is no question that fertilizing the lawn in winter (or fall) can be an incredibly valuable service. But it is ultimately just one piece of a comprehensive lawn care program that is focused on ensuring that your lawn always gets what it needs throughout the year. 

This is why it’s so important to choose the right company.

At Rock Water Farm we are prepared to meet your lawn care needs no matter what the time of year. The success of any lawn care program really does hinge on the fact that the right services are being performed at the right times of the year. Our program is strategically timed to ensure that your Northern VA lawn always receives what it needs so that you can achieve the best possible results no matter what the season. 

If you’re ready to start getting the lawn care results you desire at your Ashburn, Aldie, or Leesburg, VA home, talk to an expert, choose a solution that rocks, and get ready to enjoy your lawn and relax.

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Todd Thomasson

Written by Todd Thomasson

Todd Thomasson, founded Rock Water Farm Landscapes & Hardscapes in 2005. Having grown up with hard working parent role models and a strong work ethic, Todd put his Landscape & Turf Management degree from Virginia Tech into action as the lead stone mason and landscape designer for the new company. Over the years, the responsibility and opportunity of running this company has been shared with other members of the Rock Water Farm team, launching one of the leading property maintenance companies in Loudoun County. Todd is still rooted in his passion for design/build projects and continues to run the company, working with clients to design, build and maintain perfect outdoor spaces with his team.