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How Much Fertilizer for My Lawn?

a handful of fertilizer

Knowing how to fertilize your lawn can seem difficult. While it’s easier than most homeowners think, it’s important to get the ratio of fertilizer correct. If you apply too much fertilizer, it will burn your grass and kill your roots. Then, you’ll have to start over from the beginning with grass seedlings. But applying too little fertilizer means your lawn will not get the nutrients it needs to be healthy.

The good news is that there’s an easy formula to determine exactly how much fertilizer you need on your lawn. Working with a lawn care specialist will ensure you never use too little or too much.

After you apply fertilizer, you should stay off your grass for a day or two to give the nutrients a chance to sink into the soil. Walking or running on the lawn too soon can damage the grass and disrupt the fertilization process.

How Much Fertilizer for My Lawn?

It’s important not to under or over-fertilize your lawn. The recommended amount for most lawns is 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. To calculate how much total fertilizer to apply to your lawn, determine the nitrogen percentage in the fertilizer you’re using, which will be displayed on the bag.

Once you know your fertilizer’s nitrogen percentage, you can calculate how much total fertilizer you should use per 1,000 square feet. For example, if you’re using a fertilizer with 20 percent nitrogen, you would use 5 pounds.

Next, you need to calculate the square footage of your lawn. For rectangular and square lawns, multiply the length times the width. For triangular lawns, multiply the base’s length times the height’s length, then divide that number by two.

Make sure you are only calculating the size of your lawn and excluding your driveway, sidewalk and other areas that don’t need fertilizer. To make it easier, you can divide your lawn into smaller sections and add the total square footage together.

Once you have the right amount of nitrogen and accurate square footage of your lawn, you can determine how much total fertilizer you will need for your lawn.

For example, if you need 5 pounds of fertilizer that has 20 percent nitrogen, you would multiply 5 by the square footage of your lawn and then divide that number by 1,000. If your lawn is 10,000 square feet, you would use 50 pounds of fertilizer with 20 percent nitrogen.

Fertilizer Tips and Tricks

It’s best to fertilize one to four times a year for a beautiful lawn. Fertilization boosts your lawn’s overall health, giving it a stronger root system. Strong roots help combat damage from extreme weather. They also protect your lawn from potential damage like foot traffic.

Experts generally recommend fertilizing in the early spring, late spring, summer and fall. The first time you fertilize for the year should be when the grass begins actively growing.

Finally, fertilize for the final time in the fall, just before winter hits.  Fall fertilization restores your lawn after summer damage and protects it through the winter so that your grass returns strong in the springtime.

For even fertilization, choose slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. Water your lawn the day before fertilizing it and let it dry completely. Water it again after applying fertilizer to help move the fertilizer down to the soil and roots.

A lawn care professional can provide you with all your fertilization needs. They can determine the right type of fertilizer for your lawn, how much of it to use on your lawn and when to apply it.

a person fertilizing their yard

How Long To Stay off Grass After Fertilizing

Do you know how long you should stay off your grass after fertilizing? Most homeowners overlook this part of the process, but it’s important to allow the fertilizer to fully sink into the soil. Walking, running or playing games on the lawn will disrupt the fertilization process. It’s also important to keep kids and pets off the lawn during this time.

Lawn care experts generally recommend waiting 48 hours after applying fertilizer to the lawn before stepping on it again. It’s also important to remember that your lawn should be fully dry before you apply fertilizer. You’ll also need to wait until it’s fully dry after you apply fertilizer before you step on it again.

Make sure you check the forecast before you decide to fertilize your lawn. The ground should be dry when you apply fertilizer. Heavy rain too soon after you apply fertilizer can wash it away before it sinks into the soil.

The best time to apply fertilizer is in the afternoon when there is still some sunshine. Do not fertilize mid-day when the sun is at its peak because it will scorch your lawn and leave you with burnt grass.

For the best fertilization experience, contact a lawn care specialist who will know how to fertilize your lawn. They will use the proper products and methods to keep your lawn lush and green while keeping the roots healthy.

a shovel full of soil

Do I Need Starter Fertilizer for Grass Seed?

Starter fertilizer is recommended for new grass seeds because it gives the grass the nutritional boost it needs to germinate and grow healthy roots. Grass seeds have different nutritional needs than mature grass, so using the right type of fertilizer is important to start your lawn off on the right foot.

Starter fertilizer has more concentrated nutrients than regular fertilizer since it’s higher in nitrogen and phosphorous. It’s also important to note that you should never use starter fertilizer on mature grass because the nutrient concentrations are too high for grass at that stage.

Use starter fertilizer on the same day you plant your grass seedlings. Do not apply fertilizer directly to your sod. Apply it before laying your sod or directly to the grass seedlings. After planting, wait six to eight weeks before applying another round of starter fertilizer. The grass should be around one-inch to one-and-a-half inches tall. At this point, you could also mix starter fertilizer with regular fertilizer.

The best way to ensure your new grass has every opportunity to grow into a healthy lawn is to work with a lawn care professional. They can determine the right type of starter fertilizer for your lawn so it can grow strong and healthy. They can also maintain regular lawn upkeep so your lawn stays healthy all year.

ABC Can Keep Your Lawn Healthy and Green

Taking care of your grass can take a lot of work. If you would rather spend your weekend enjoying your yard, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our lawn care team can give you that healthy green grass you’ve been looking for. We even have a team who can refresh your landscaping!

J Zambo

J Zambo joined ABC in 2023 with over 20 years of experience. He is the Lawn & Tree Division Manager, overseeing Lawn Maintenance and Care, Landscaping, Tree and Holiday Lighting for all ABC Austin branches. Before ABC, he was the Vice President of Aloha Arbor Care and Hawaii Landscape Services. J is an ISA Certified Arborist and ISA Qualified Tree Risk Assessor. His favorite quote is “So shines a good deed in a weary world” by Willie Wonka.

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