Fertilize Your Garden In The Fall For Next Season’s Success

large vegetable and flower garden

There’s one thing all gardeners can agree on: few things in life are more satisfying than a thriving garden. Proper fertilization is essential for helping your garden be as successful as possible. But many gardeners wonder whether they should fertilize their garden at the end of the growing season.

You should fertilize your garden in the fall. Fall is an excellent time for garden fertilization because it provides plants with the nutrients they’ll need to grow successfully come spring. Fall fertilization is vital for perennials and spring bulbs.

This article will discuss the function of fertilizer in depth. Read on to learn more about strategies and techniques you can use in your fertilization process.

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Why should you fertilize in the fall?

You should fertilize your plants in the fall to best prepare your garden for the following growing season. Fall fertilization enhances your garden’s soil with nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, leading to more robust plants in the spring and summer seasons to come.

  • Nitrogen: Nitorgen is an essential nutrient for plants, especially for healthy leaf growth. A plant with access to plenty of nitrogen can properly photosynthesize and create energy for itself. Without enough nitrogen, a plant won’t be as green and lush.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is crucial for plant growth, especially in the root establishment and early development stages. A plant that can access sufficient amounts of phosphorus grows more quickly and effectively, even after the initial stages of development.
  • Potassium: Potassium provides plants with better resistance to diseases. In addition to protecting against the threat of disease, potassium also helps improve the function of plant components on a cellular level.

Make your own organic fertilizer

Most organic fertilizers are a product of composting. To create an organic fertilizer suited to your garden, you can compost materials from plant, animal, and mineral sources.

Plant-based fertilizers

Plant-based fertilizers are relatively straightforward as you can buy them as single-ingredient amendments. If you’ve ever seen a box or bad of alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, or kelp meal, those are plant-based fertilizers. Each one has a specific nutrient ration, so be sure to reference the packing to see if it’s what your garden needs.

Animal-based fertilizers

Animal-based fertilizers derive from manure or other animal by-products. Manure, bonemeal, and bloodmeal are common examples. Just like plant-based fertilizers, each of these are plentiful in various macronutrients. For example, bonemeal is high in phosphorus.

Mineral-based fertilizers

Mineral-based fertilizers are those such as calcium, lime, or azomite rock dust. These fertilizers verge on being considered amendments, since they add trace minerals to your soil rather than macro or micronutrients. Some minerals such as lime and sulphur can adjust your soil’s pH level to be better suited for certain plants, such as blueberries or hydrangea.

If the pH of your garden’s soil is below 6.0, fertilizers rich in calcium effectively boost the pH to a more appropriate level.

Do all gardens need to be fertilized?

Most gardens need to be fertilized regularly to reach their full potential during the growing season. Fertilizing every 3 to 4 weeks promotes healthy growth and development in plants and ensures that they have sufficient access to vital nutrients whenever needed.

In particular, you should sufficiently fertilize your perennials in the fall. Fertilizing your perennials with a fertilizer that’s high in phosphate and low in nitrogen will increase the hardiness and abundance of new sprouts in the spring.

Additionally, don’t forget that you must plant bulbs for spring flowers in the fall! Fertilize your spring bulbs shortly after planting in the autumn season to ensure the plants will be strong and successful come their growth and blooming period in the spring.

How much fertilizer does a garden need?

For best results, a garden needs 2 and 3 pounds (0.91 and 1.36 kg) of fertilizer for every 100 square feet (9.29 sq. m). Make sure you check the size of your garden before adding fertilizer to it. For smaller gardens, check the package for recommended amounts.

However, the amount of fertilizer you apply to your garden can vary based on the type of plants, the kind of fertilizer in use, and how frequently you apply the fertilizer. 

Take care to learn about your types of plants to fertilize them in the most effective way possible. You can find information about individual plant needs online and through local experts and greenhouses, among other resources.

Planning and preparing the next garden season is essential

Although the spring season is a great time to apply slow-release, granular fertilizers, fall is the better time to incorporate fertilizers such as compost and manure so they have time to decompose into the soil before spring planting.

The decompostion process will build organic matter in the soil which is a huge benefit to your plants.

Consider improving and adjusting your soil before spring

While you’re dedicating time to your garden towards the end of the growing season, it’s a good idea to consider any soil amendments you may need come the following spring. Mixing plenty of organic, composted materials into your soil will ensure your plants have the best possible growing environment come springtime.

This is also a great time to mulch your garden to provide insulation and protection from heavy winter rain. If you’re not sure which mulch would be the best for your garden, jump over here to get some great ideas: Best (Free!) Organic Mulches For The Home Garden.

Although it can feel like extra work at times, fertilizing your garden in the fall will provide many noticeable benefits for your plants in the future. By enriching your soil and making any amendments to your garden’s conditions ahead of time, you are more likely to see success when your plants begin to grow in the spring.


Can I Use Lawn Fertilizer in My Garden?

Fertilizing your vegetable or perennial garden with lawn fertilizer isn’t optimal because they frequently contain a high ratio of nitrogen to the other nutrients garden plants need. Additionally, grass and lawn fertilizers can contain chemicals intended to manage weed growth, which can harm plants.

Instead of lawn fertilizer, choose an all-purpose or shrub and perennial-specific fertilizer to promote slow growth and root development for the healthiest plants.

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