Fall is here! It’s time to think about grass. Wait — grass? But isn’t winter coming? If your spring grass is the last thing on your mind as the days grow cooler and the green starts to disappear from the pasture, read on. Next year’s grass depends on this year’s good care. Here are some fall pasture care tips to give you a green spring.
Take a soil sample. Your local extension office can analyze your soil and see what nutrients your ground is lacking. Some feed stores offer this service, as well. Why is it important? The summer grass may have taken much of the nutrition out of your soil over the past growing season. Unbalanced soil can also encourage weed growth. A soil analysis will not only tell you what your soil is lacking, but which seeds will grow best for you in the future.
Kill those weeds. Want to kill weeds before they sprout next spring? As roots go dormant for the season, they suck in extra nutrients to keep them going all winter long. Put down an herbicide and the weeds will drink that up as well, giving you fewer fresh sprouts in springtime.
Fertilize. You can choose the right fertilizer based on your soil sample — this will insure you have the right balance of nutrients in the soil. Remember, improper nutrient balance won’t help grass, but weeds will love it. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are the primary fertilizers, but some soil will be heavy in one nutrient and not the other. Take the time to customize your treatment! If you’re going to spread manure on your fields, be sure to test it for parasites first. You don’t want your barn to have a worm problem come spring.
Seed for spring. Once you’ve chosen the best seeds for your soil, put them down while the weather is still warm. This gives seeds the best chance to germinate. Keep the horses off the new sprouts! Your new grass needs time to put down strong roots before it can stand the test of grazing and galloping.
Consider a sacrifice paddock. The best thing you can do for your pasture over the winter? Leave it alone. Grass does best when it’s given some quiet time with no hooves and teeth tearing it up, and it really doesn’t like to be touched when it’s frosty or frozen. Setting aside a sacrifice paddock where you can turn out horses during the cold months can give you a better pasture next year.
It’s easy to think your pasture will just come back after winter as green as ever, but the truth is, your grass needs help to do its best. Since nothing makes a horse as happy as green grass, take the time to dig up a soil sample and start getting your pasture fertilized and seeded. You’ll be happy you did, and so will your horse.