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Blackwelder column: Fertilize fescue lawns now

Now is the time to consider fertilization of established fescue lawns.  Properly fertilized and maintained turf withstands summer droughts, diseases and other pest problems.

    Turf specialists recommend fertilizer to be applied in the spring and fall. Many homeowners choose to apply agricultural grade fertilizers such as 10-10-10, 17-17-17 or 30-0-0.

    Slow release turf-type fertilizers usually contain a mixture of coated nitrogen and other elements that releases nutrients slowly over a long period of time. Temperature and weather trigger the release of these nutrients.

Slow release type fertilizers are very popular because the slow even feeding produces a green turf with minimal growth. Rapid growth generated by grade fertilizers especially in the Spring. Slow release fertilizer produces short, even turf growth during the fall and spring.

Another important reason to consider slow release turf type fertilizers is the formulation.  Most are pre-measured for 5,000 and 10,000 square foot areas. Turf type fertilizers generally contain complete micro nutrients or trace elements.  These trace elements may make a difference in growth and development of a lawn.

Organic lawn fertilizers are also available.  These offer nutrients from an organic source.  Organic fertilizers deliver very slowly, similar to slow release fertilizers, but be prepared to pay almost double the normal cost of fertilizer.

Think of lawn maintenance as a yearlong project, rather than an annual chore for the Fall.

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.

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