You could say that fall is the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” season for fertilizing turf. In early fall, it’s best to apply a fertilizer with slow-release nitrogen to help turf recover from summer. But in late fall, the ideal fertilizer has a high ratio of quick-release nitrogen. Sometimes called “winterizer” fertilizer, this application helps prepare turf for winter. In this blog post, we’ll explore the two characteristics that make it the best fertilizer for the end of fall.


High-nitrogen fertilizer is ideal for late-fall applications because it will stimulate root growth rather than shoot growth. You don’t want to encourage shoot growth when the plant is “hardening off” for winter. Apply high-nitrogen fertilizer in late fall to encourage root growth that will support nutrient and carbohydrate storage. Come spring, you should see earlier green-up as a result. 


Quick-release fertilizer is ideal for late-fall applications because nutrient uptake is limited this time of year. As temperatures decrease, the air can’t absorb as much water and evapotranspiration rates decrease. That means plants can’t take up nutrients as easily, so quick-release is the way to go for your late-fall nitrogen applications.

Late-fall applications of high-nitrogen, quick-release fertilizer help turf start winter and spring healthy and green. The precise timing of these applications depends on your specific location, so consult your ATS representative for help determining the right time and products for you.