Can You Over Fertilize Your Lawn?

Can You Over Fertilize Your Lawn?

Are you guilty of over fertilizing your lawn? Well, if you fertilize your lawn every season you just might be! Over fertilizing can and does happen to many homeowners every single year. But, you can care for your lawn the right way by following a few simple rules – and discover the right way to fertilize your lawn this year. So pay attention and learn how to fertilize right and what you should do in case you accidentally go too far.

A Few Important Points

Before you rush out and buy fertilizer and the implements to spread it, you need to keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, the chemicals contained within lawn fertilizer can be major sources of pollution if you apply too much. The excess washes into nearby streams or storm drains, seeping into groundwater too, so use caution!

In an effort to keep from over fertilizing your lawn, you should conduct a soil test to see what nutrients your lawn actually needs. You can find easy-to-use kits for this at your local lawn and garden store. Then you can discover what, if any, nutrients the soil actually needs.

The soil test will also tell you what the pH of your soil is. This measures the alkalinity or acidity of your soil and will indicate how much lime you need to add in order to adjust the pH. Once you know what kind of nutrients your soil needs, you can then by the right kind of fertilizer, which should be applied in small amounts (per package directions) over the length of the growing season instead of just all dumped on at once.

Trouble In Lawn Paradise

You may be reading this and thinking “Uh-oh! I did none of these things and just applied fertilizer to my lawn. Now there are large brown stripes in my lawn!” Sounds as if you’ve found out the hard way that it is, in fact, possible to apply too much fertilizer to your lawn, but don’t sweat it too much. Yes, you have damaged your lawn, but all is not lost.

When you kill or damage your grass with fertilizer, also known as fertilizer burn, you need to find ways to leach the excess fertilizer out of the ground and then reseed the damaged patches. To try and get out the excess you should:

  • Water your lawn – In order to wash away the fertilizer, get out your sprinkler and allow it to fully saturate the damaged part of the lawn. Apply at least an inch of water every day for a week and then allow three to four days for the lawn to dry out before proceeding.
  • Apply fresh topsoil – fill the patches with topsoil and tamp it down gently. You will need to apply topsoil until it is about a half inch above the surrounding level. Smooth it with a rake.
  • Scatter grass seed – Mix seed with topsoil in a ratio of 1:3 so that the coverage will be even. Top with a light layer of compost.
  • Water – Make sure you water thoroughly at once a day until you see the seeds germinating. You want moist soil, not soggy.
  • Fertilize seedlings – Once about two-thirds of the seedlings are growing, fertilize with a 5-10-5 nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizer. Only use about two teaspoons per square foot and then water well.

Well, that’s about it. Now you know that when it comes to fertilizer you can definitely go too far. But as long as you are cautious, responsible, and aware of how to fix your mistakes, you can go forward with confidence to regularly fertilize your lawn to keep it healthy and happy throughout the growing season!

Sara Butler

Sara Butler has written scores of articles for Lawn Love -- everything from how to revive your dead lawn to how to start to lawn care tools every homeowner should have.