5 Reasons to Feed Your Turf This Winter

Posted by Mark Wilton on

5 Reasons to Feed Your Turf This Winter

This blog explores why do we need to feed turf in the winter, with what, when especially when budgets are tight and treasurers may be looking to make savings.

I am not an expert or qualified to go into this too deeply, but here is what l do know or have researched for the good of the blog.

Apparently, the plant requires 13 nutrients to flourish, these are made up of macro elements, such as N, P, K, Mg, Ca and Su and micro elements which the grass plant requires less of, such as Fe, B, Mn, Zn etc, but all of which are necessary for healthy growth and need replenishing.

On a typical soil the plant requires nutrient quantities of 3-1-1 (Nitrogen/Phosphorus/Potassium), with a higher percentage of nitrogen applied over the growing season. Phosphorus applications around times of seeding and potassium as required, based on annual soil testing results.


Replace lost nutrients removed during cutting (if boxing off), and nutrients leaching through the soil profile or being taken up by the plant. The aim is to create the right balance of nutrients for the plant. This still applies in the autumn and winter.

Nitrogen (N) for growth and recovery.

Phosphorous (P) builds a strong root structure which is important around seeding periods.

Potassium (K) important element for cell structure and wear and tear.


Fertilisation encourages thickening of the plant through a process called tillering, if done as part of a regular cutting programme. This is key post renovations, up to a time when the plant really slows down usually in January/February.

Our aim should be to create as thick as possible grass canopy, prior to possible weed grass invasion and other turf disorders, such as moss and weeds.


Prevention of turf disease, such as red thread which is a symptom of a hungry plant. Too much fertiliser (nitrogen), however can also increase the risk of fusarium, which is another disease associated with grass. Something in the range of 4-8% nitrogen is probably the ideal with some phosphorus and potassium.

For more details on red thread -  https://turfcareblog.com/red-thread-turf-disease/

Phosphorus, may not be required outside of overseeding tasks, as it is retained well at least in clay soils.

I have also found that, if fertilisers contain some Fe (iron) this really helps keep moss at bay, but do avoid frosts if using Fe based products.

Ideally the nutrient requirements of the fertiliser application, should be based on annual soil testing results, carried out early in the year.


Recovery from wear and tear (play) or foot traffic. Nitrogen(N) plays an important role in this as well as potassium (K).

This is especially important on winter sports pitches.


Presentation - who does not like green and stripy grass? Often players view a pitch based on how it looks, before they even play on it!

More important for winter sports, but even in winter on a cricket or bowls green, how it looks is an important factor and its also worth baring in mind.

How often to fertilise?

Everything you need for details like this are on the bag, but if using a conventional quick release fertiliser, which is used my many an application is needed every 6 weeks or so.

The plant will let you know also when its low in nutrients, by a slowing down in growth and a drop in the clipping removals along with a yellowing of the leaf. The ideal is to feed, just before it gets to this stage, this will prevent times of leanness for the plant.

Role of liquid fertilisers?

These can be used all your round, as supplement to granular feeding or as l do used at times when the plant is slow in growth, i.e. height of summer or depths of winter.

Take a look at this blog, liquid vs granular fertilisers-  https://turfcareblog.com/liquid-fertiliser-v-granular-fertiliser-on-sports-turf/

The plant will survive, but will not thrive.



Images kindly supplied by the TurfCareBlog Community

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