How to fertilize lawn and make healthy yard in 5 best ways

Every garden needs fertilizer regularly, which undergoes an intensive process that removes nutrients from the soil. It keeps your lawn soil in leading shape to feed your garden. Usually, plants need 3 important resource factors to grow perfectly. These are light, moisture, and nutrients. We know that the sun provides light, moisture from rainfall or irrigation, and different nutrients come from fertilizers, compost, or manure.

Lacking nutrients, plants can’t grow well, so you need to fertilize your lawn when it is needed. But fertilizer doesn’t respond well if it is in poorly drained soil, in the excess shade, or in an area where there is a huge competition of plant roots.

How to fertilize lawn in most effective ways

In this article, I am going to explain to you the best way of fertilizing to keep your lawn healthy and luscious. Don’t be so hasty; any wrong decision to fertilize can damage and burn your whole yard.

Why do you need to fertilize your lawn?

Fertilizer is one of the essential elements for lawn grass and plants. It supplies all essential nutrients to plants. It gives your lawn a beautiful look and keeps it evergreen and healthy. Moreover, it is called the feeding of your lawn grass, and plants. Feeding plants will be very simple if you gather some knowledge about fertilization and its schedule.

Though all the essential nutrients are present in the soil or floating in the air, all the plants don’t absorb nutrients from soil or air. Different types of soil have different nutritional ingredients. So, when you start to establish a lawn, consider the soil in which a plant is growing. Sometimes, in many soils, all the nutrients aren’t naturally there or leaching out over time. For this, you need to replace or release those elements from the outside. In this case, think of fertilizer and apply it as nutritional supplements.

1. Different types of fertilizer to be used:

When you start fertilizing your lawn, you must gather some basic information about different types of fertilizer. Plants or grass can absorb some fertilizer very fast but some others very slowly. According to the nutrients release rates, mainly fertilizer can be classified into two groups. First, Slow-release fertilizer, Second, Fast-release fertilizer.

How to fertilize lawn

Slow-release fertilizer:

Slow-release fertilizer mainly acts as a pillar of your lawn care program. These fertilizers can give a delayed and steady supply of nutrients to lawn plants or grass for several weeks. Because of its longevity and practicality plants or lawn grass can absorb nutrients when they need. The slow-releasing fertilizer gives your lawn a longer-lasting result; thus, it reduces the risk caused by fertilizer and protects your lawn from burning.

Fast-release fertilizer:

Use a fast-release fertilizer If you want to get a quick result. These are mainly water-soluble, which can release nutrients to your lawn immediately. You can get these in the local markets or lawn care companies. The price of these fertilizers is less than slow-release products. You must be more careful when you use a fast-release fertilizer. Any overdose can burn your whole lawn or damage your lawn grass very severely. You have to apply it a tiny amount and more often and follow the label’s instructions carefully.

Can I mix and use slow and fast-release fertilizers?

Yes, you can use a mixture of slow and fast-release fertilizer. But you have to bear in mind the timing of it and the amount you will throw on your lawn. One wish saying is ‘Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.’ Keep in mind the last application and note it if possible. Carefully notice the release rate of fertilizer you use. Any kind of timing mistake and calculation error can damage your lawn.

Luckily, you can find a penalty of products in your local market or lawn garden care companies that utilize both fast and slow-release nutrients. You can find that these are more commonly liquid solutions that can release both nutrients in a single fertilizer. So, you can get the best results from these products. These fertilizers can supply a penalty of quickly available nutrients to kick off growth and have a sufficient amount of long-lasting nutrients to avail it for your lawn to sustain it.

2. Selection of nutrients:

plant nutrients

The selection of the right type of fertilizer is essential for making your lawn healthy and lush. Lawns need different essential nutrients, but among all of them, the three fundamental ingredients of fertilizer are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). These nutrients are essential for the plant’s growth and are known as N-P-K. N-P-K indicates the ratio of these three essential nutrients.

Plants need nitrogen for proper growth- the roots, leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits. It helps by stimulating chlorophyll production, thus increasing the green color and vigorous growth in lawn grass. Also, it is needed to form protein. Lack of nitrogen plant leaves become yellowish, and the entire plant turns pale green.

Phosphorus is needed for healthy root growth and cell division. Also, it helps to form flowers and fruits. Lack of phosphorus the growing plants are stunned, and the plant produces poor flowering and fruiting.

Potassium is needed to complete many chemical processes. These chemical processes allow the plant to live and grow. It increases disease and weather resistance. Lack of potassium plants can show different symptoms, mainly stunted growth and yellowish of lower leaves are found in many plants.

Some things to consider before buying the combination of fertilizer:

When you buy a combination of fertilizer, you need to consider the perfect ratio of N-P-K according to its cost per pound of nutrients. Commonly, higher analysis fertilizers and larger packets are less expensive. For example, a 100-pound bag of 20-40-20 ratio is less costly than a 100-pound bag of 10-20-10 ratio fertilizer. But the 20-40-20 ratio of the N-P-K fertilizer bag has twice the nutrients that others.

The rest is composed of inert materials and trace elements (Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Boron, Manganese, Sulphur, Molybdenum, and Copper). You can also supply these trace elements a little bit individually.

3. Selection of fertilizer:

Selection of fertilizer

Many lawn professionals prefer to use a complete fertilizer with twice as much phosphorus as nitrogen or potassium. Such as, it would be 10-20-10 or 12-24-24 or 15-30-15. These combinations of fertilizers are very easy to find in local markets or lawn care companies. Since some soils have much potassium for plant growth and don’t need more, slight extra potassium doesn’t cause any harm to your lawn. Always try to use a complete fertilizer.

But this ratio is not ideal for all soils. This ratio varies from lawn grass to the season of applications and the present conditions of your lawn. If you need to green up your lawn, then select a mixture of 25-6-4 ratio, which has a higher amount of nitrogen.

Which do you select- Organic or Inorganic?

This is one of the most common questions to many lawn owners whether they use organic fertilizer or inorganic. And they become confused when they see different terms like organic, inorganic, natural, artificial, and synthetic in product labels. Forget all this; just think about organic and inorganic. Here is some basic information and drawbacks of both types.

Organic fertilizer:

When you see organic or natural thrown around the product label, it is produced naturally. Its nutrients remain in natural forms, and it is minimally processed. These elements don’t come up with extracted or refined. These organics are mainly derived from plants or animal extract reserves in your home or garden. Organics such as cow dung, compost, manure, fish meal, and so on.

Organic fertilizer

Luckily, in the modern world, you can find organic fertilizers in one bag, combined with several types of organics or specific nutrients. You have to top-dress your lawn with a mixture of compost and organics in spring and fall. Though the amount of essential nutrients is low in organics, you need to supply a large number of organics. Avoid using fresh cow dung in your lawn; otherwise, it can damage your lawn badly.

Inorganic fertilizer:

You can also use inorganic fertilizers instead of organics to get a quick result. It is also known as an artificial product. These products are mainly derived from synthetic materials and chemicals containing the specific nutrients your lawn needs. It remains in consumable form for grass and supplies nutrients immediately. Remember that the rate of nutrients release of organics is slower than inorganics.

But, you must be careful when you use inorganic fertilizer as you are a beginner. Any mistakes in timing or rate of applications can be harmful to your lawn. It can burn your whole lawn. As it is tough to apply and needs frequent application, many specialists recommend not using it on lawns for beginners.

Both fertilizer types have their place and value in lawn care. You have to find a balance between both of them. Or, you can use a fertilizer which is a combination of both organics and inorganics products that can take your lawn to a new level.

Liquid or Granular?

Another classification of fertilizer is either liquid or granular. Though there is no difference in the nutrient amount supplied in both types, you have to select which you prefer to use. If you follow the right method of applications, the ending result is the same in both types. You can also use both types, but you have to find a balance first that can enhance your lawn’s health. Here are some pros and drawbacks of both types-

Liquid fertilizer:

Best liquid fertilizer

This fertilizer comes as a liquid or a crystal form which then mixes with water.

  • Pros:
  • Friendly for beginners as for its low burn potential formula.
  • Can mix with other liquid fertilizers.
  • Easy to apply.
  • Has a well-balanced coverage.
  • Drawbacks:
  • More expensive than granular.
  • Depends on the weather more than granular.
  • Needs frequent application.

Granular fertilizer:

This fertilizer is mainly dry and remains in granular form. It needs a broadcast spreader to apply in the lawn.

  • Pros:
  • Cheaper in quantity than liquid.
  • Self-life is very long.
  • Only 2 or 3 applications are needed throughout the year.
  • Ideal for low-maintenance lawn care.
  • Drawbacks:
  • Over-application can burn your lawn.
  • Tough to apply evenly.
  • Slower absorption of nutrients into the lawn.

4. Which types of fertilizer do your lawn need?

It is one of the hardest parts of your fertilizing task to maintain a healthy lawn. But you can’t avoid it because it is the most important part. After all, any kind of selection mistake can damage your lawn very badly.

Soil test first:

First of all, you need to test your soil to determine which types of fertilizer your lawn needs. In soil, tests check the pH level of your soil. If the soil pH is under 5.5, the lawn soil is acidic and needs to apply lime to raise the pH to a neutral level. If the soil pH is more than 7, then the lawn soil is alkali, and you need to fertilize with sulfur to lower the pH.

After a well-balanced soil pH level, you need to know which nutrients your lawn soil needs. From soil tests, you can determine the lack of the right type of fertilizer to get the best results. If your soil needs much nitrogen, then it can recommend a 30-0-0 fertilizer.

For soil tests, you can send a few samples, or you can also call a professional services man to come to collect the sample. After that, they test your soil and give you the results of which nutrients your lawn has a shortage of. Then select the right type of fertilizer and apply it to fix the problems.

Identification of your lawn grass and create a fertilization schedule:

It is essential to identify the lawn grass that you wanted to grow or already grow. Before fertilizing, you need to know about lawn grass. Because fertilization and its schedule largely depend on grass types. You can find a multitude of grass varieties. Among all varieties, you can find two major types of grass usually grown in many regions.

How often and when to fertilize?

You are recommended to fertilize two to six times per year (for granular) and every two to four weeks during the growing season (for liquids). The specific time mainly depends on needed nutrients, method of applications, expected results, and mostly on grass types. It is crucial that you only need to fertilize when your lawn grasses are actively growing or at a peak level of growth.

Schedule for Cool-season grass:

Cool-season grasses are mainly grown in the region where there remains low temperature all year round. These grasses grow very well in early spring and late summer through fall by receiving nitrogen. You should notice on your lawn soil temperatures very carefully. When the temperature of your lawn soil reaches 55°F, you have to start fertilization. But, if it reaches 75°F in late spring or early summer, stop fertilization. We know that high temperature and low water availability bring dormant conditions in cool-season grass.

Examples of cool-season grass:

  • Bluegrass
  • Ryegrass
  • Annual and perennial fescues

The best fertilizer for cool-season grasses:

When you grow cool-season grass, it is simple to fertilize your lawn. You don’t face any major nutrient deficiency. Only you need to apply 2-4 pounds of nitrogen each year.

If you want to use N-P-K combination fertilizer, many professionals suggest using 25-0-10 ratios of fertilizer. Also, you can use 25-5-10 or 20-5-10 ratios of N-P-K in early spring and late fall.

Schedule for warm-season grasses:

These grasses are tropical types and thrive well in high temperatures but struggle in cool weather. These grasses are more nutrient-specific, and you need to supply the proper amount of nutrients when needed. When you are a beginner and have a new lawn, you have a good chance of a blend of sorts. You need to determine the required amount of nitrogen that thrives well. These grass are tough enough and become denser over time.

Example of warm-season grass:

  • Bermuda grass
  • Centipede grass
  • Zoysia grass
  • Buffalo grass
  • Bahiagrass
  • St. Augustine

The best fertilizer for warm-season grass:

Warm-season grasses are actively growing in late spring, so it is easier to manage than cool-season grasses. They go dormant in fall, so you get a constant and broad growing season for fertilization. When the temperature rises above 60°F, you need to start fertilization. When it drops below 55°F, stop fertilization. Suppose your region temperature is below 55°F all year round. In that case, you need to start fertilization when the lawn grasses are in an actively growing period.

Many professionals suggested using 16-4-8 ratios of N-P-K fertilizer, which has a nice balance for warm-season grasses. You can also follow 8-2-6 ratios of N-P-K fertilizer.

Can you fertilize your lawn every two weeks?

Many lawn owners fertilize their lawn every two weeks, which can cause serious damage to your lawn. Professionals recommend fertilizing your lawn every five to seven weeks. Some lawn owners suggested fertilizing every four weeks. Also, some experts suggested fertilizing twice or thrice per year. You must avoid fertilizing when your lawn is in dormant conditions.

5. Different methods of fertilization:

First, you have to introduce different methods of fertilization. After then you need to figure out the best methods that suit you and your lawn perfectly by supplying the needed amount of nutrients. Here are two major types of fertilizer application methods.

Broadcast spreader:

broadcast spreader

This method is mainly effective when you are going to use a granular fertilizer. Usually, you find different spreader machines such as electronic handheld spreaders, manual handheld spreaders, walk-behind, or two-behind spreaders. The working system of all these spreaders is almost the same way. If you want, you can set the rate of applications which will be helpful for you. In a handheld spreader, you need to hold the trigger while walking.

A walk-behind or tow-behind has specific features through which you can get the right amount of fertilizer with your driving or walking speed. It has the most accurate rate among all the broadcast spreaders. Broadcast spreaders do your job quickly.


This method is very effective for people who are wanting to use liquid fertilizer on their lawn. This method also has different variations such as handheld, push, or two-behind. In a tow-behind sprayer, you can set the rate of applications before. You need to add water for spray, and most sprayers are very simple to use. You can find the specific amount of water you need to add and apply in the liquid product label. Sprayers have much more accuracy than broadcasting, and it is also time-consuming.

Final Thoughts:

Proper fertilization practices offer you an evergreen, healthy and luscious lawn. Fertilizing is the feeding of your lawn grass. You have to find out the best feeding methods for your lawn based on your circumstances and locality. If lawn grass can’t get nutrition at the right time, you don’t get the desired results, all your dreams can shatter. You have to supply fertilizer at the right time, in the right amount, and in the right way. Suppose you fertilize when your lawn grasses are dormant or transitioning into dormancy. In that case, it can add unnecessary stress to your lawn which has some long-lasting adverse effects.

I think this article will be helpful for you if you are a beginner in lawn care. I tried to give you the most helpful information and basic way to fertilize your lawn. If you read and follow these institutions carefully, I think it will be very easy for you to take care of your lawn. If you follow the right way, one day you will be a pro in lawn care. So, take care of your lawn and keep following our website. We will try to give you the best services in lawn care and some other gardening problems.

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Jeffrey Bromley
Jeffrey Bromley

Jeffrey Bromley is an experienced lawn care professional with over 13 years in the industry. He is the owner of The Lawn & Landscape Company and the founder of Lawn Gardeners Blog. His passion for lawn care extends beyond his business ventures, with a personal commitment to helping individuals take better care of their yards.

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