How To Fertilize Grass Properly (Like The Pros)

By Alex Williams | Lawn & Garden

May 22
lawn fertilizing by hand

Is your lawn looking scraggly, with bare, patchy spots that are thinning? Chances are, your lawn is lacking vital nutrients. Fertilizing your lawn properly, at the right time, can help turn it into the lush, vibrant green grass you desire. In order to fertilize your lawn properly and help if grow strong and healthy, it’s important to choose an application method that works for you.

Fertilizer Application Methods

Granulated Spreaders

Granular types of fertilizer can be broadcast by hand, but you’ll run the risk of uneven application, resulting in burned spots and bare patches. The best method for applying a granular fertilizer is to use either a push spreader or a broadcast spreader. A push spreader generally tends to drop the pellets directly down into the turf as you push it. The more commonly used type of spreader is the broadcast spreader. This spreads the fertilizer over a much wider path, and covers more area with less walking.

Regardless of which spreader method you use, follow the fertilizer instructions carefully.  You will need to estimate the area dimensions of your lawn in order to measure the correct amount of fertilizer to apply – too little and you won’t see the growth you are looking for; too much, and your lawn will grow too fast and require frequent mowing.

Liquid Fertilizer Applications

Liquid fertilizers offer some perks – they are easy to apply, and are absorbed into the soil more quickly. They are also easier to distribute evenly over the grass. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for estimating the solution dilution, and apply in a slow, even fashion. Some fertilizer kits include a hand-held sprayer and pump, which work well, others feature a bottle that attaches to the end of your garden hose. Both methods will distribute the fertilizer evenly, as long as you have measured and mixed your solution properly.

When to Fertilize

While most people tend to think of their lawn-care as a summer-time chore, proper lawn maintenance, including fertilizing, is a year-round job. Your lawn needs nutrients throughout the year, depending on the water demands, outside temperature, type of turf, and watering schedule. If you only plan to fertilize once a year, though, spring is definitely the time to do it. Like everything else in your garden that begins to bloom in the spring, your grass is waking up from a dormant cycle and needs added nutrients to grow strong and healthy. Your lawn also needs that extra boost to be able to handle warmer temperatures and increased foot traffic. A second, light, mid-summer treatment is helpful for particularly needy grasses. When fall approaches, applying another round of fertilizer will help your turf prepare for the winter ahead. While most people never think to fertilize in the winter, there are special types of fertilizer specifically developed to add nutrients to your soil to prime it for the sunny springtime days ahead.

Whatever method of fertilizer distribution you choose, and whatever season you apply it, the key to a beautiful lawn is to select the appropriate fertilizer for your area, climate, type of grass, and time of year. If you are not sure what type of grass you have, take a sample to your local home and garden center for identification.

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