How to Fertilize Lawn

A beautiful lawn adds to the wow factor of any home but to get your grass looking vibrant and healthy takes work. Lawn fertilization gives your grass the nutrients it needs to stay healthy all year. Grass fertilizer is a nutrient dense product that feeds your turf the nutrition it needs to grow healthy. It is made of natural or synthetic ingredients. Far too often, homeowners make simple mistakes when applying fertilizer. These mistakes can harm your lawn by over or under feeding it. At JHC Landscaping Services Inc., we can take the guesswork out of fertilizing your grass so you will have a healthy, lush lawn every year.

Tools Needed

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When fertilizing your lawn, you will need a variety tools to prepare the lawn and nutrient mixture, apply the fertilizer and water you lawn after to make sure the nutrients. If you are planning to aerate your lawn, you will need an aerator break up the soil so the nutrients can get down to the roots easier.

When you are ready to apply the lawn fertilization, a measuring cup is required to measure the fertilized product. A spreader is used to apply the solution over your grass. There are different types of spreaders from manual to mechanical to choose from.

After you have finished fertilizing the grass, set up a sprinkler and water hose to wet your lawn. The moisture will push the nutrients to the roots quicker.

Determining Fertilizer Type

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It is important to choose the right lawn fertilization product so your greenspace receives the nutrients it needs to grow healthy. Knowing the types of grass fertilizers available and when to use them will help you choose the right product for your yard.

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Slow Release

Slow-release are fertilizing products break down slowly over time release nitrogen and other essential nutrients into the ground so your grass gets its needed nutrients over a longer timeframe.

Some slow-release fertilizing mixtures are made of organic mixtures that naturally decompose but many are coated with plastic resins and sulfur based polymers that are broken down by the water, heat, sunlight, and microbes found in the soils. This type of lawn fertilization is best for lawns that are already well established.

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Fast release grass fertilizers are synthetic, water soluble mixtures that are absorbed quickly to provide your lawn with the nutrients and nitrogen it needs immediately. Quick release lawn fertilizing products are great for new green spaces or damaged grass that requires immediate nutrition to recover and regrow.

More care is needed when applying fast-release lawn fertilizer so you don’t apply it unevenly or over-fertilize your grass.

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Weed and Feed

Weed and feed products combine grass fertilizer with weed herbicides. The idea behind these products is to make fertilizing your lawn easier while simultaneously getting rid of weeds. However, use care when applying this product. Fertilizers and herbicides are generally spread over your yard at different times of the season and, unless your lawn is completely covered in weeds, applying an herbicide to your entire yard is not necessary.

Many weed and feed products have been banned in Canada because of the toxic chemicals used to make the herbicides.

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Organic Materials Such as Compost and Manure

Some animal manure products like cow or horse manure contains twigs, grasses, leaves and other organic materials that make great natural fertilizers. Compost is not lawn fertilizer however, it does have fertilizing properties. Lawn fertilization is designed to provide food and nutrients to the grass while compost feeds the soil with nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other micronutrients. These compounds found in compost eventually make their way to the plant through the roots.

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Liquid Fertilizers

Liquid fertilizers are popular products because they are easy to blend and apply. Liquid lawn fertilization can be applied on the ground on the plant leaves. One of the differences between granular and liquid grass fertilizer is liquid products have equal amounts of nutrients in each droplet. Granular fertilizers are singular so they do not have equal quantities of nutrition in the pellets.

How to Fertilize Lawn:

  • Measure Out Fertilizer: To calculate the amount of lawn fertilizer you will need, you will first have to measure the size of your greenspace. For most yards, this can be done by multiplying the width times the length. If you have an uneven yard or a landscape with a more complex shape, you will have to do more measuring and calculating to get the precise size.
    Test the soil to see what type you need. Once you know your yard size and soil requirements, you can use the guide on the fertilizing package to calculate how to fertilizer your grass using the right amount of fertilizing solution.
  • Fill the Spreader: When applying fertilizer to your grass, first make sure you have the right type of sprayer for the fertilizer you are applying. Granular and liquid spreaders differ so using the wrong spreading machine can over and under spread your fertilization.
    When applying fertilizer to your grass, first make sure you have the right type of sprayer for the fertilizer you are applying. Granular and liquid spreaders differ so using the wrong spreading machine can over and under spread your fertilization.
    After you have calculated the size and amount of lawn fertilizer you will need, use a measuring cup to measure the exact amount of grass fertilizer and pour it into the spread. Set the calibration of the spreader as recommended.
  • Apply the Fertilizer: One of the most important keys to having a healthy turf is knowing when to apply lawn fertilizer. How often you should fertilize your lawn depends on the condition of your lawn, the climate, how often you water your grass and the type of fertilization you choose.
  • Spread Evenly: For best results, use a spreader to apply the lawn fertilization. Before spreading the nutrients, be sure to measure your ingredients carefully so you have enough fertilization to meet the needs of your greenspace.
    When applying your lawn fertilization, maintain a steady pace and do not stop mid-application. Be careful to avoid too much overlapping of fertilizer pellets on your turf.
  • Water: Watering your greenspace after applying grass fertilizer will help the ground absorb the nutrients more quickly. After you apply the lawn fertilizing product to your yard, use a hose and sprinkler to water the grass.
  • Maintenance: Fertilizing your grass should be done every six to eight weeks. However, if you water your turf frequently, or if you happen to have a rainy season, you will likely have to apply lawn fertilization more frequently. Fertilizing your grass should begin in the spring and end in the fall before the snow falls so your grass has all the nutrients it needs during the winter.

Lawn Fertilizing Tips

Knowing when and how to fertilize your lawn will help keep is healthy year-round. Always use a spreader to apply the spring lawn fertilizer. To ensure your application is even, measure your mixture first with a measuring cup so you have accurate levels to spread evenly over your turf. Fill the spreader away from your lawn to avoid unwanted spillage and clean up any excess afterwards.

When applying the lawn fertilization, walk at a consistent and steady pace and avoid overlapping so you do not over or under spread.

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When to Fertilize Warm-Season Grasses

There are specific times during the year when it is best to fertilize the lawn. Spring fertilizer on warm season grasses can be applied when your daytime temperatures remain at 21 Celsius and your soil temperature is at the consistent 15 Celsius. Depending on your region’s weather, warm season fertilizer can be done as early as March till September.

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When to Fertilize Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season grasses like bluegrasses, fescues and ryegrasses are better suited for late summer to early fall lawn fertilization. If you have cool-season grasses, fertilizing your turf is best done when your soil temperature is consistently under 13 Celsius. The most common months to apply cool season grass fertilizer are March, April, October and November.

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Compost as Fertilizer

Compost feeds the soil with potassium, nitrogen, phosphorous and other micronutrients that commonly found in grass fertilizer. Although it is not fertilizer, the nutrients in compost make their way to the plant through the roots and help provide valuable nutrients to the foliage.

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Why Fertilize After Soil Aeration

Aerating your lawn before applying fertilizer breaks up the soil so the nutrients in the lawn fertilization will soak easier into the ground and to the roots of your grass. If you are planning to aerate your grass, it should be done before the fertilizing solution is applied.

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Grass Cycling

Grass cycling is the process of leaving your grass clippings on your lawn while mowing your grass instead of bagging and disposing them. The clippings are a natural lawn fertilizer because they are full of the nutrients and nitrogen your greenspaces need. By grass cycling, not only are you feeing your grass, but it is the most cost effective way to fertilize your grass.

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Failure to Test the Soil

Before fertilizing your grass, test five to six areas of your greenspace so you can discover what nutrients are missing in your yard. Failure to test the soil first can result in purchasing the wrong type of lawn fertilization. If the wrong fertilizing solution is used, you could add too much of one type of nutrient and not enough of another.

How to Fertilize New Sod

Congratulations on your new lawn! The next step of your journey is to learn how to fertilize new sod and keep a new sod maintenance. Whether you used our professional sodding services or you installed it yourself, you need to maintain your lawn properly in order to keep it green and fresh. Read on to learn the latest tips and tricks on how to fertilize new sod, and therefore how to keep your grass healthy and lush.

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How long should I wait?

When you first lay down the lawn you may be tempted to fertilize it right away, but that would be a mistake. New sod needs time to establish a strong root structure to absorb nutrients. Experts recommend that you wait 6-8 weeks for this to happen, and if this process began in the winter then you should even wait until spring. If you fertilize now then the nutrients will likely just leech into the soil.

There is also a secondary reason to wait. Sod farms typically fertilize just before harvest, meaning your new lawn should not be lacking for nutrients when it is first rolled out. It is best to take things slow when you are learning how to fertilize new sod.

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How To Choose a Sod Fertilizer

General recommendations for choosing a sod fertilizer are as follows:

  • Go with a slow-release fertilizer to avoid overfeeding.
  • The label of the fertilizer should have 3 numbers (like 5-14-42). The first number represents nitrogen, the second one represents phosphorous. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers for the first application, try to find a high-phosphorous kind instead.
  • You want approximately 1lb of nitrogen for every 1,000sqft of turf.
  • Make sure you water your lawn after application to help the fertilizer break down.
  • Your second applications of fertilizer should be another 6-8 weeks later, and it should be a high-nitrogen kind, aim for 2lb of nitrogen for every 1000sqft of turf.

Relying on Professionals

Now you have learned how to fertilize new sod! Remember, however, that every season, lawn, and type of sod is different and that may require adjustments to the above steps. You can contact the professionals at JHC Landscaping to ask any questions you have, or to hire experts to do your work for you.


Do I fertilize before or after mowing?

For best results, lawn fertilizing should be done after you have mowed the grass so your turf has time to absorb the nutrients in the grass fertilization.

Can you over fertilize your lawn? What are the signs of overfertilizing?

The simple is answer is yes, if you are not careful, you can over fertilize your lawn. Over fertilizing happens when you apply too much product on your grass or fertilizing too many times throughout the year. You should only fertilize your grass two to four times per year or every six to eight weeks. Anything more than that is too much. When applying the lawn fertilizer, use a spreader and only apply what is required.
If you do apply too much fertilizer, your grass will give you subtle and not-so-subtle hints. One of the first signs you may see is the crusty coating of the lawn fertilizer on top of your grass. Your grass will grow very slowly or not at all and the blades will look yellow or brown and be limp. The roots of your grass can turn black and your lawn can look like it has been scorched or burned as the affected grass dies off.

What do you do if you over fertilize your lawn?

If you apply too much grass fertilizer, try to remove as much of the excess as possible. Water your lawn frequently to dilute and wash away the excess nutrients. Assess the damage to your grass. If it will regrow, continue to maintain your lawn until all the damaged turf is naturally expelled from your greenspace. If the grass patch cannot regenerate, remove the damaged grass and reseed.

What are the benefits of putting fertilizer on my lawn?

Lawn fertilizer provides your grass with the essential nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong. Grass fertilizers are primarily a mixture nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. When the right nutrients are applied to your greenspace, the turf growths thicker so weeds are less likely to invade your yard.

How long do I need to keep kids and pets off the lawn after fertilizing?

After fertilizing your grass, kids and pets should stay off your greenspace for at least 24 to 72 hours so the solution has time to absorb into the soil. Watering your turf will also help the lawn fertilization soak into the ground faster.

Does fertilizer ever expire?

When stored properly, liquid grass fertilizer will last up to ten years while dry or pellet form lawn fertilization has no expiry date. To keep your fertilizing product from caking or clumping, spilling, leaking, causing fires, or exploding the product should be kept in a secure, sealed container in a dry, well ventilated space and away from other chemicals or combustible materials.

At JHC Landscaping Services Inc., we are experts in lawn fertilization. Contact our office today for all your grass fertilizing needs.