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Darrell Blackwelder: Now is a good time to fertilize cool season fescue lawns

After dodging snow and thunderstorms, now is a good time to fertilize cool season fescue lawns. Turf specialists recommend one pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet in late winter and early spring. Fertilizers can be applied as a grade type, slow release or organic-type fertilizers. All provide necessary nutrients each with advantages and disadvantages.

Blended slow-release specialty fertilizers are pre-measured and usually available in 5,000 or 10,000 square foot bags custom blended to eliminating the guesswork.

Grade or general fertilizers such as (10-10-10) can also be used however, growth is excessive and is often a nightmare to mow on a regular basis. Rapid turf growth also predisposes fescue to fungal diseases in early summer.

Organic turf fertilizers release nutrients slowly and growth response may be slower than conventional fertilizers. It is very important to apply only one fertilizer application in the spring to avoid excessive growth and fungal problems.

The most important task before applying any fertilizer type is to know the size of your application area. When asked, most homeowners are clueless about the size of their lawns.

Avoid waste, endangering the environment and save money by taking a few minutes to correctly measure your lawn before applying your spring fertilizer application.

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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