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Dormant Fertilizing


LawnSite Member
I plan on applying fertilizer to my yard since the grass has stopped growing. The ground here in Indiana is not frozen yet, but lots of heavy frost in the mornings. Will it damage the yard to apply the fertilizer with a pull type spreader while the frost is still on the yard? I would like to apply in the morning as the winds are not as severe as during the afternoon. Your advice is appreciated!


LawnSite Fanatic
N.E. Wisconsin
If your grass is dormant the nitrogen will not be taken up until spring so why not wait until then. As far as pulling a spreader over the lawn, I don't really see it doing any damage unless you are going up and down hills and you start sliding or spinning. If you do apply it now just remember to cut out the spring ap. I would suggest waiting and then applying a crabgrass preventer in the spring.
Many other opinions to be had, this is just mine.


LawnSite Bronze Member
South Bend, IN
Grass may look "dormant" to us from above ground in winter, but underground growth continues as long as ground is not frozen. Even deciduous trees grow roots after leaf drop if ground is not frozen.

This year the leaf growth continued here until mid-November - really unusual, because temps did not fall. After a couple of hard frosts, generally, the leaf growth ceases or slows dramatically, and the grass plant switches to underground growth - roots and rhizomes - and to carbohydrate storage. A proper late fall application of fertilizer, after leaf growth has slowed helps this underground growth and storage. If properly done, it is unnecessary to fertilize next spring until Memorial day, thus reducing heavy spring leaf growth common with early fertilization.

If the ground happens to freeze shortly after your late fertilization, it is not wasted. It is frozen in place for use if the ground thaws again or until spring thaw.

see http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/Pubs/AY/AY-4.html