How to Fertilize a Lawn

Two Methods:Picking Out FertilizerFertilizing Your Lawn

Is your lawn patchy with spots that are thinning? Fertilizing your lawn can help you get the lush, green grass you desire. To properly fertilize your lawn it's important to prepare the ground, pick out the right fertilizer, and use a method that will give your lawn the best chance to grow in stronger and healthier. Read on to find out how.

Method 1
Picking Out Fertilizer

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    Know your grass. The type of grass you have will determine what type of fertilizer you need to use, and how often you need to fertilize. Some regions have primarily warm season grasses, while others have primarily cool season grasses. If you don't know what type of grass is growing in your yard, ask your neighbors who have similar grass, or take a sample to your local garden center.
    • Warm season grasses grow primarily in the southern regions of the US. They include St. Augustine, Bahia, Carpetgrass, Centipede, Bermuda, and Buffalo, among others. These grasses turn brown in the fall after the first frost of the year.
    • Cool season grasses grow primarily in the northern regions of the US. They include Fine Fescue, Bluegrass, bentgrass, and ryegrass. Cool season grasses stay green all year round.
    • Both warm and cool season grasses can grow in the middle regions of the US.
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    Do a pH soil test. This measures the alkalinity or acidity of the soil, and helps to determine what pH your fertilizer should have. You can buy pH testing kits for soil at garden stores or online. Follow the instructions on your kit to determine your soil's pH. If your soil has high acidity or alkalinity, you'll need to pick out a fertilizer that will balance things out for optimal growth.
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    Measure your lawn. You'll need to know the square footage in order to buy the right amount of fertilizer. Multiply the length of your yard by its width to find out the square footage. Make sure you subtract the areas that won't need to be fertilized, like your home and any landscaped areas.
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    Buy fertilizer. Now that you know what kind of grass you have, the pH of your soil, and the size of your yard, pick out fertilizer that meets your lawn's needs. There are a lot of different types of fertilizer to choose from, and it's good to do a little research before picking one. Ask for help at your garden store if you have trouble deciding. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
    • You can get either liquid or granular fertilizer. Liquid fertilizers work quickly, but they're also absorbed quickly so they need to be reapplied every few weeks. Granular fertilizers are sprinkled across the lawn and get absorbed more slowly.
    • Choose between quick release and slow release granular fertilizers. Slow release fertilizers only need to be applied once or twice in a growing season.
    • Choose between chemical or organic fertilizer. You can get fertilizer that also kills weeds, but using an organic fertilizer is better for your lawn's health in the long term.

Method 2
Fertilizing Your Lawn

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    Obtain the proper equipment. The equipment you use can make a difference in the results of your lawn fertilization. If you have a large lawn, you might need to buy or rent equipment designed to evenly spread fertilizer throughout your yard.
    • Choose a rotary spreader for larger lawns.
    • Pick a drop spreader for smaller lawns or for lawns with areas that need precise fertilizing, such as around flower beds and landscaping.
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    Fertilize at the right time of year. In order to your fertilizer to work best, you'll need to time it so that you fertilize at the beginning of the growing season. This is different for different types of grasses.
    • Fertilize warm season grasses when the grass begins to turn green at the beginning of spring. Fertilize the lawn again just after the hottest part of the summer is over.
    • Fertilize cool season grasses after the heat of the summer is over, since their growing season gets under way in early fall. You can use a Winterizer fertilizer toward the end of the summer to protect the grass over the fall and winter. Fertilize again early in the spring, making sure the fertilizer is timed to be used up before the hot summer weather begins.[1]
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    Prepare the spreader. Open and close your spreader while it is empty to ensure that it works properly. Fill the spreader with the appropriate fertilizer for the time of year and needs of your lawn. Check the packaging to see the recommended amount. Adjust the spreader so the release of fertilizer matches the recommended dosage on the fertilizer bag.
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    Start fertilizing. Choose a place in your yard to begin and open the mechanism on the spreader. Walk at a normal pace while spraying the fertilizer. Remain as constant as possible without stopping, slowing or speeding your pace or turning off the spreader.
    • Cover your entire yard with the fertilizer. Be cautious about not overlapping or skipping areas.
    • Be sure not to spread too much fertilizer. Your yard could experience chemical burn if you aren't careful.
    • Clean your spreader when you're finished. Spray the inside and the outside of the spreader with a water hose.
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    Water your lawn.[2] This helps the soil absorb the fertilizer so your lawn will begin seeing its benefits right away.


  • Be careful about choosing a location when cleaning your spreader. You do not want to wash excess fertilizer onto an area of your lawn. Choose your driveway, rocks or concrete for the cleaning.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer spreader
  • Fertilizer
  • Water hose
  • Water

Article Info

Categories: Lawn Care