This Is How Often (and When) You Should Fertilize Your Lawn (2024)

Tending to your lawn is an American rite of passage, but there’s an entire art to the process to ensure a perfectly manicured, healthy green plot. Fertilization plays a big role in any lawn maintenance care routine. This step nourishes your soil with nutrients that allow grass to grow plush and thick. But how often should you fertilize your lawn, when’s the best time to do it, and is there such a thing as using too much fertilizer? Keep reading for quick answers.

  • Roger May, PhD, horticulture expert and director of technical operations for TruGreen
  • Teri Valenzuela, natural science manager for Sunday

When and How Often to Use Lawn Fertilizer

The frequency of lawn fertilization depends on four key factors: type of fertilizer used, climate, season, and grass type. Teri Valenzuela, natural science manager for Sunday, recommends fertilizing approximately two to three times per season. That said, “it’s less about how often you fertilize and more important to understand what nutrients you're feeding your lawn,” she says.

The best time to fertilize your lawn is in the morning, and the second best is in the evening, says Valenzuela. “This helps avoid burning from the midday heat and applies when your grass is most hydrated and can absorb nutrients.”

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How to Fertilize Your Lawn

The good news is that fertilizing itself isn’t an overly complicated process. However, you do need to follow protocols to prevent over-fertilizing your lawn. Roger May, PhD, horticulture expert and director of technical operations for TruGreen, says that tools like a spreader and calibration equipment can help you nail the process.

  1. Choose the best fertilizer for your grass type and soil conditions and carefully follow the package instructions to ensure the correct application rate.
  2. Use your spreader to evenly distribute the fertilizer across your lawn. Some products are attached to your hose and allow you to spray it uniformly across your lawn that way.
  3. If using a dry fertilizer, make sure to water your lawn immediately after to help nutrients penetrate the soil and reach the roots.

Why You Should Fertilize Your Lawn

Lawn fertilizers provide vital nutrients to foster a dense, green outdoor space that you can enjoy.

“As your lawn grows, nutrients in the soil need to be replaced,” explains Dr. May. “A properly fertilized lawn reaps many benefits, including a thick and green appearance with minimal weeds, reduced nutrient runoff and soil erosion, an increase of oxygen supply and therefore carbon dioxide to result in a greater cooling effect.”

Conversely, unfertilized lawns are typically duller in hue, can have sparse or splotchy patches of grass, and may deal with more weeds. Dr. May says there are several different fertilizers to choose from. The best one for your lawn ultimately depends on your growing zone and grass type.

Signs Your Lawn Needs Fertilizer

Not quite sure if you should fertilize your grass? Here are some clear signs that it’s time to give your lawn a nice nutrient boost.

  • Slow Growing: If your grass growth seems stunted, this could be a sign it needs a nutrient boost.
  • Yellowing: Grass that turns yellow or pale green often indicates a lack of nutrients (particularly nitrogen).
  • Thinning: Areas of thinning grass or bare patches might indicate that your lawn needs fertilizer to encourage healthier growth.
  • Weeds Galore: If you’ve noticed weeds are taking over your lawn, this is a sign that they’re thriving while your grass is not. Boosting with fertilizer can combat this issue.
  • Pest Problems: Similarly, undernourished lawns are more susceptible to pest infestations. If you see more grubs or insects hanging out in your lawn, fertilizer can help strengthen your grass and give ‘em the boot.
  • Soil Test Results: The clearest way to determine whether you need lawn fertilizer is to conduct a soil test. It’ll point out any nutrient deficiencies particularly in nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium.

Can You Fertilize Your Lawn Too Much?

Yes, homeowners should note that a lawn can be over-fertilized by adding too much of the core nutrients needed to keep a lawn healthy and happy. If you’re not quite sure how much or when to fertilize your lawn, Dr. May suggests hiring a landscaping professional or lawn maintenance company to tackle the job for you.

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This Is How Often (and When) You Should Fertilize Your Lawn (2024)
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