Fertilising your lawn in Autumn

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 10 April 2019 

Now is the ideal time to fertilise! Holding off on your Autumn application of fertiliser till early to mid April ensures the best possible outcome for winter colour and early Spring emergence.

All lawns should be fertilised three times per year for optimal colour, hardiness and health. The best times are mid spring, mid summer and mid autumn. Being autumn, it’s a good time to consider what to use now and why.

Whats in an fertiliser?

Almost all fertilisers have three main ingredients, nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). Some go one step further and contain other components such as trace elements. These include things like iron, zinc, copper, boron and a bunch of others. Some come from an organic source, others are of a mineral origin. This means the contents of most fertilisers are different and so is the amount of each element they contain. For example, some contain higher levels of nitrogen or more potassium than others. Some have trace elements, some don’t. That doesn’t necessarily mean that some products are better than others. It‘s more like they are different and designed for different purposes.

We know that grasses such as couch, kikuyu and buffalo will soon begin preparing for winter dormancy. By fertilising now, you ensure they store enough energy during the latter part of autumn to get them through winter and still have ‘something left in the tank’ so to speak to start growing again in spring. A lawn correctly fertilised in autumn is also more likely to hold better colour through winter. That makes mid autumn a perfect time to give your lawn what it’s looking for. But not just any fertiliser, preferably a mineral fertiliser (not organic) that’s strong and punchy. 

What should you look for in an Autumn Fertiliser?

On the back of every fertiliser bag, there is a small table showing you what’s in the fertiliser and how much of each element it contains. This is called the fertiliser analysis. An ideal analysis for an Autumn fertiliser looks like this:

Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen is vital for a healthy lawn. In fact, your lawn won’t grow without it. However, too little available nitrogen not only leads to slow growth, it also increases the likelihood of some diseases, as well as yellowing of blades and thinning of turf. This results in increased weed pressure.

Phosphorous (P): At least 4%

Phosphorus assists in converting the sun’s energy and other elements, such as nitrogen, into usable food for lawns. Phosphorous also makes lawns more vigorous.

Potassium (K): At least 6% (9% is ideal)

Potassium encourages winter hardiness, especially in warm-season grasses that go into winter dormancy. Potassium encourages good water uptake and strong cell and root formation that helps grass survive winter temperatures.

Trace elements are a bonus but worth looking for as well. They are kind of like a multi-vitamin for your lawn! The fertiliser we recommend for Autumn is Paul Munn’s Emerald Green. It has exactly the right analysis you are looking for for Autumn fertilising and, applied at the right time will help your lawn to hold better winter colour and stand up to the rigours of winter.

Comments (4)

Should I fertilise the lawn before, during, or aft

By: on 1 May 2019
Should I fertilise the lawn before, during, or after a good rain in autumn?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hey Magdalene, You can fertilise before a decent rain but you need to make sure that you get enough rain to water it completely into your lawn. If you can still see fertiliser after the rain, you will need to finish watering it in by hand/sprinklers.

Spring/summer lawn fertilizer

By: on 12 April 2019
Great article! Is the fertiliser recommended for Autumn - Paul Munn’s Emerald Green, also suitable for spring & Summer?

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hey Tania, Emerald Green can be used throughout the year but it was developed as an Autumn time fertiliser. We recommend Paul Munns Green Keeper for Spring and Paul Munns Organic Lawn Food for Summer.

Early fertilising?

By: on 12 April 2019
Hi, I fertilised my Kikuyu lawn in mid March using Emerald Green. Was this too early? Should I do a small "top up" now? Thanks

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hey Stephen, If you fertilised in mid March, then you would not need to do a top up now. The best time is early to mid April so you're not too far off the mark. Nice job using the Emerald Green - we recon its the best for Autumn fertilising

Emerald green fertiliser

By: on 25 April 2018
Is emerald green ok for buffalo and sir Walter? Thank you Susan Patterson

Paul Munns Instant Lawn Response
Hi Susan, Yes - Emerald Green is an excellent autumn fertiliser for buffalo lawns like Sir Walter. Its high potassium level will give your lawn an extra level of hardiness and colour retention over winter.

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