Regular lawn maintenance is key to keeping your outdoor space in great shape. It allows you to keep the grass and other plants green and healthy and protect them from diseases, weeds, and insects.
Applying fertilizer on your lawn is one of the most important parts of your lawn care schedule. But it can be counterproductive if you don’t choose the right product and fail to follow the right steps of fertilizer application.
That’s where this guide comes into place. It contains a step-by-step process that you can use to apply grass fertilizer on your lawn effectively. So, let’s get started.
Types of Lawn Fertilizers
Before getting into the details of spreading fertilizer on a lawn, let’s discuss the types of lawn fertilizers that you can use.
Liquid fertilizer, as the name implies, comes in liquid form, which is highly concentrated and you need to dilute it with water. Most liquid fertilizers have quick-release composition, which means they provide the grass with the nutrients they contain as soon as you apply them.
Here’s a list of the pros and cons of liquid lawn fertilizer.
- Provide turf with nutrients immediately
- Create an even plant food distribution because each drop contains a similar ratio of nutrients
- Make for a great option for lawns that require immediate attention
- Easy to apply
- Provide you with results quickly
- Best for beginners and novice gardeners
- Shorter shelf life
- Require frequent applications
- This can lead to a growth surge, which can hinder root growth and make the plants and grass vulnerable to pests and stress
- Can be expensive
Granular fertilizer typically comes in the form of pellets as it’s dry fertilizer and it usually has a slow-release formulation. It means that most granular fertilizers release nutrients slowly over a long period of time.
You can use three different types of fertilizer spreaders, including a handheld, rotary, or drop spreader, to apply granular lawn fertilizer. Here are the pros and cons of this fertilizer type that you need to know.
- Can last for multiple weeks on even months
- Don’t need to apply frequently because of the slow-release formulation
- Can promote long-term grass health
- Less expensive than liquid fertilizers
- Long shelf life
- Not the best option for lawns that need immediate attention
- Applying this type of fertilizer is hectic and time-consuming
- Can be difficult to spread it around the lawn evenly
- This can lead to poor distribution of nutrients
When to Fertilize Lawn
It’s important to choose the right time of the year to fertilize your lawn. Generally, you should fertilize your lawn when the grass has begun breaking the dormancy just before the active growing starts.
It’s also important to choose the type of fertilizer carefully, depending on the nutrients in your soil and grass you have. If you have cool-season grasses, you would already know that they actively grow during fall and early spring, when the temperature is around 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ideally, you should fertilize cool-season grasses in the fall, before the arrival of severe cold weather but after the intense heat of summer. You can choose winterizer lawn fertilizer to apply on cool-season grasses.
Whereas, the growing season for warm-season grasses starts in late spring and ends in early summer when the temperature is around 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, you should apply fertilizer on warm-season grasses before the arrival of severe summer heat.
How To Spread Fertilizer on Lawn: Step-by-Step Guide
The following is the list of steps that you can follow to apply lawn fertilizers correctly.
Step 1: Prepare the Lawn
The first step is to prepare your lawn for fertilizer application. You should start this step by identifying the type of grass you have. It’ll help you choose the right fertilizer and select the correct time of the year to carry out the process.
You’ll also need to perform a soil test to determine its pH level. Most lawn grasses thrive in soil with a pH level ranging from 6.5 to 7.0. You can collect a sample of your soil and take it to a local nursery to determine its pH level.
If the pH level is 5.5 or lower, you might not want to apply fertilizer as it’ll be counterproductive. You’ll need to apply lime to improve the pH level before you apply fertilizer.
Whereas, if the soil’s pH level is 7.5 or above, you’ll need to use elemental soil sulfur or fertilizer rich in sulfur to decrease the pH level. The last part of the preparation of the lawn is to thoroughly water it a couple of hours before you apply lawn fertilizer.
Step 2: Take Lawn Measurements
Once you have determined the right time and the type of fertilizer you need, the next step is to measure the lawn size. It’ll allow you to figure out how much fertilizer you need to cover the entire area effectively.
Step 3: Ensure Your Safety
Keep in mind that lawn fertilizers contain substances that can be harmful to the human body. Therefore, it’s important to wear safety gear before you start applying lawn fertilizer.
You’ll find all the information on the fertilizer’s packaging, which you need to ensure your personal safety. Generally, you should wear safety goggles, a face mask, and protective gloves, along with rubber boots, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants.
In addition, keep your kids and pets away from the lawn while applying fertilizer and at least 48 hours after the application.
Step 4: Spread Fertilizer
The following instructions will help you apply both liquid and dry fertilizers to your lawn effectively.
However, you need to keep in mind that these are general instructions. You must follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for optimum safety and effective application.
Many liquid fertilizers come in hose-end spray bottles. If you have such a product, all you need is to attach the spray bottle to the hose.
However, if your liquid fertilizer doesn’t have a sprayer bottle, you’ll need to add it to the sprayer canister, according to the instructions listed on the package.
After that spread the fertilizer evenly across your lawn. Don’t choose a windy day to apply liquid fertilizer as it can disrupt the process and you’ll end up with an uneven application.
As mentioned above, you can use a hand-held spreader, drop spreader, or rotary spreader to spread granular fertilizer.
Hand Held Spreader
A hand-held spreader is good for small areas. It features a handle that you need to crank in order to discharge granules.
A drop spreader is good for medium size lawns. It’s a push-down tool that comes with a rectangular hopper with several holes, which are spaced equally and arranged in a row. The granules of the fertilizer leave the drop spreader between its wheels to reach the ground.
A rotary spreader is suitable for large yards. It’s also a push-down tool that features a hopper where you need to pour the granules and they exit the spreader via holes located at the bottom.
Tips to Spread Lawn Fertilizer Effectively
The following are some important tips that you should keep in mind to spread the fertilizer properly.
- Calibrate your spreader, according to the instructions of your fertilizer. It’ll help you ensure that the spreader releases the right amount of fertilizer to promote grass health.
- Add granules into your tool’s hopper on a patio or driveway. You don’t want to perform this step by standing on your lawn. That’s because accidental spills can happen and they can damage the grass.
- Push the spreader at a consistent pace by starting from one of the corners of your lawn.
- If you’re using a rotary spreader, then be extra careful to position the tool correctly. That’s because a rotary spreader typically sends the granules of fertilizer about three to five feet away.
- Make sure that you cover your entire lawn properly and avoid fertilizing the same area twice.
- After completing the fertilizer spreading process, grab a broom or leaf blower to clean excess fertilizer that mistakenly landed on the patio, sidewalk, or driveway. You can also blow it back onto the grass.
Benefits of Using Fertilizer on Lawn
The soil that you have in your lawn or yard contains some essential nutrients. But most of the time, they don’t offer everything that your plants and grass need throughout the growing season.
Lawn fertilizers fill that gap and add nutrients to the soil that an actively growing lawn needs to thrive. Here are some other benefits that lawn fertilizers offer.
- Promote root and new lead growth
- Control and reduce weed growth
- Add nutrients that are lost because of grass removal/clipping, volatilization, and leaching.
- Help grass recover from pest damage and foot traffic
- Make plants and grass resistant to pests and diseases
Spreading fertilizer on your lawn seems like a daunting task, especially if you have never done it before, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
You just need to make sure that you choose the right time of the year, use the correct fertilizer, depending on the grass type you have, and follow the right steps to complete the process effectively.
Make sure that you wear protective gear before you start the process and keep your kids and pets away from the lawn to ensure your and your family’s safety.