Benefits of Lawn Fertilization

bags of lawn fertilizer and herbicide sitting on a lawn with a fertilizer spreader in the backyard

Apart from boosting soil nutrients, the benefits of lawn fertilization include enhancing grass resilience, improving turf growth, and deflecting urban noise. Proper fertilizer application also can help your lawn resist diseases and endure harsh weather.

So, if you think adding fertilizer to your lawn is just an option, you’ll be surprised to discover how it can contribute to your lawn’s health in many ways. We’ll also give you pro tips for maximizing the benefits of lawn fertilization.

Advantages of fertilizing your lawn

Manual fertilizing of the lawn in back yard in spring time. Close up
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You might think lawn fertilization is just a gimmick because of the many fertilizers lined up on the shelves of local home improvement and garden stores. However, applying fertilizers is actually a necessity. If you don’t want your lawn to become dull and lifeless, fertilizing is a must and should be part of your regular lawn care maintenance.

The nutrients your grasses need are not consistently present in the soil because they get depleted over time – even if you have the best loam soil. Additionally, irrigation and rainwater can easily leach the water-soluble nutrients from the soil, so you must replenish them to keep your turf strong.

Some of the things that may reduce or deplete the nutrients in your soil are:

  • Soil compaction due to heavy foot traffic in a particular area
  • Rapid depletion of organic matter in soil due to high temperature
  • Leaching of water-soluble nutrients from the soil due to rainwater or irrigation drains
  • Voracious consumption of specific nutrients due to environmental conditions like summer heat

Fertilizers can supply essential nutrients that grasses often lack due to these environmental factors. Whether you use organic or inorganic fertilizer, the important thing is to make the nutrients your lawn needs readily available and accessible. Plus, when you apply lawn fertilizer, you’re actually preventing soil runoff, which can otherwise be bad for the environment.

Here are some of the benefits of lawn fertilization:

1. Improves soil properties

Dung or manure on the farm when the morning sun is shining
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According to David Hillock, senior extension specialist at Oklahoma State University Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, commercial fertilizers not only add nutrients but also boost the supply of organic matter in the soil. As such, the most notable contribution of fertilizer to lawn health is boosting soil nutrients and structure.

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, or N-P-K, are the most essential macronutrients that impact your lawn’s overall well-being. Their corresponding numerical values are shown on the front of fertilizer bags in the same order or sequence.

Nitrogen is the most crucial macronutrient since it’s responsible for building proteins and creating chlorophyll. This nutrient helps make the grass green. Producing nitrogen in untreated soil can be a challenge, which is why it’s usually applied in large amounts.

Phosphorus aids in amino acid production and plant respiration, which are necessary for lawn vitality. However, large amounts of phosphorus in the soil can negatively affect the plant’s ability to absorb micronutrients. Fortunately, only a small amount is usually required, and some states even ban the use of this nutrient in fertilizers as it can pollute waterways.

Potassium is the macronutrient responsible for the long-term health of grasses. It also helps improve the lawn’s ability to withstand extreme conditions, which is why it’s one of the main ingredients of late summer lawn fertilizers or winterizers. Potassium is your turf’s stress-relief potion, helping it endure different types of stressors in the environment, including foot traffic.

2. Promotes grass growth

Apart from providing macronutrients, another benefit of fertilizers is that they also can supply lawns with essential micronutrients, such as:

  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Nickel
  • Copper
  • Chlorine
  • Manganese

These essential nutrients are necessary for your lawn to develop strong roots and greener blades. Since they aid faster growth rates, you can have a denser, healthier lawn.

3. Boosts root development

Applying fertilizers as needed is crucial if you want your turfgrass to develop strong, deep root systems. Deep roots help improve your lawn’s ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, making it stronger and more resilient to drought and foot traffic.

4. Improves resistance to pests

When you apply fertilizer to your turf, you give it the nutrients it needs to be strong and healthy. Your grass becomes vigorous, giving it the strength to withstand lawn pests. Note, though, that applying too much fertilizer can actually attract pests to your lawn.

5. Prevents weed growth

weeds near rocks
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Fertilizers help your grasses thrive and become lush. They develop a robust root system that extends all throughout the soil. The improved grass density in your lawn helps prevent weed infestation because there’s no more room for them to grow.

6. Enhances resistance to diseases

Water and sunlight are not the only things your lawn needs in order to thrive and stay healthy. Proper fertilization can help boost your lawn’s overall health and make it more resistant to various diseases.

So, if you want your turf to be resilient, give it a consistent supply of nutrients from fertilizers. Doing so can help your lawn better withstand various environmental stressors, including heat, cold, and drought.

7. Aids in faster recovery from damage

Fertilizers provide grasses with essential nutrients that support rapid growth and regrowth. So, a well-fertilized lawn can quickly recover from wear and deterioration even if it gets damaged by lawn pests, diseases, or harsh environmental conditions.

8. Promotes cleaner air quality 

If you have a lush landscape, you help optimize oxygen production in your immediate area. Your turf and plants naturally recycle carbon dioxide into oxygen, and the more abundant your lawn and garden are, the more oxygen is produced.

9. Deflects urban noise

When your lawn is healthy and thriving, your grasses can better dampen the sound of the urban landscape. If you observe for a while, you’ll notice that it’s less noisy in the suburbs, and sounds are less pronounced. This is because the lawns and landscape absorb and deflect sounds, helping to reduce noise levels.

10. Boosts curb appeal

Since nutrients like nitrogen are necessary for photosynthesis and producing chlorophyll, feeding your lawn with the right fertilizers can improve its color and overall appearance. With a consistently green and healthy-looking turf, your landscape will be more beautiful and add significant value to your property.

How to maximize the benefits of lawn fertilization

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If you apply lawn fertilizers responsibly, you can significantly enhance your lawn’s appearance and health. Follow these steps to maximize the benefits:

  1. Plan your schedule: Always start with a soil test to determine your lawn’s specific needs. Then, you can establish a fertilization schedule based on the results and your turf’s growing season.
  2. Choose the right fertilizer: Use either organic or inorganic fertilizer, depending on the nutrient needs identified in your soil test results. Also, decide between granular and liquid fertilizer — granular is easy to apply and provides slow-release nutrients, while liquid offers quick nutrient uptake.
  3. Prepare the area: Remember to mow your lawn before applying fertilizer. If you’re using granular fertilizer, lightly water your lawn a day or two before application. These steps can help ensure the fertilizer penetrates the soil so the roots can easily absorb the nutrients.
  4. Measure the correct amount: To calculate the right amount of fertilizer, you’ll need to refer to your soil test results again. If you over-apply, you risk harming your lawn and the environment. On the other hand, under-application may not provide the desired benefits.
  5. Time it right: Timing is everything, so you can’t just toss the fertilizer and hope for the best. The best time to apply fertilizer is when your grass is actively growing to ensure efficient nutrient absorption. Avoid fertilizing before heavy rain or during drought periods.
  6. Pick the correct method: There are five different ways to apply fertilizer. Depending on the type of fertilizer, you can choose between fertigation, foliar feeding, broadcasting, banding, or fertilizing using an aerator.
  7. Apply evenly: To ensure an even distribution of granular fertilizers, use a broadcast or drop spreader. Walk at a steady pace and overlap your passes slightly to avoid streaks. If you’re using a sprayer to apply liquid fertilizer, do it in a consistent, sweeping motion.
  8. Water after application: This step only applies if you use granular fertilizer. Watering your lawn lightly after applying a granular fertilizer can help the nutrients penetrate the soil and reach the roots. Avoid heavy watering, though, as it can lead to runoff and nutrient loss.
  9. Monitor lawn health: After fertilizing, keep an eye on your lawn to check its response to the formula. Look for signs of nutrient deficiency or over-fertilization, such as yellowing leaves or burnt edges, and adjust your fertilization approach accordingly.
  10. Late summer fertilization: Whether your grass loves the heat or the cold, give it some TLC with a late summer application. This helps toughen it up for the impending winter chills.
  11. Continue maintaining your lawn: For post-application care, you must continue with regular lawn care practices to support the effectiveness of your lawn fertilization project.

Pro tip: If you have a pet, remember to use a pet-friendly lawn fertilizer. Also, stop your pets from walking, running, or playing on the newly fertilized lawn for at least 24 hours after application.

FAQ about the benefits of lawn fertilization

Can I combine organic and inorganic fertilizers?

Yes, you can combine organic and inorganic fertilizers. Selecting and using inorganic fertilizers can help you deliver much-needed nutrients to your lawn quickly. On the other hand, organic fertilizers slowly release the nutrients over long periods.

So, the best course of action is to combine organic and inorganic formulas in your fertilization plan. For instance, you can use compost as a long-term solution to provide nutrients to your turf. At the same time, you can add a specific fertilizer blend to target your lawn’s nutrient deficiency.

Why do I need to cut my grass before fertilizing?

Cutting the grass a few days before fertilizing is an excellent way to reap the most benefits, as it allows for easier soil penetration and better absorption. However, try not to mow your lawn on the same day as applying fertilizers because the grass clippings may hinder the fertilizer from spreading evenly.

When should I not fertilize my lawn?

You should avoid applying fertilizer during excessive heat or drought. Otherwise, you’ll just add more stress to your lawn. It’s better to add fertilizer when the temperature has started cooling down.

Enjoy the benefits of lawn fertilization

Fertilizing a lawn offers many benefits, making it a cost-effective approach to maintaining curb appeal. If done correctly, you won’t have to worry about reviving your lawn because of pests, diseases, or other damage.

If you want your lawn to get the right kind and amount of nutrients, your best bet is to hire a lawn care pro. Plus, you can enjoy the benefits of lawn fertilization without breaking a sweat.

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Melanie Joseph

After discovering her passion for writing through her beauty blog, Melanie left her engineering job in California, became a writer, and never once looked back. When she isn't writing, she loves dipping in the pool, tending to the garden, or doing simple home improvement projects.