How Do You Know You Over Fertilized Your Lawn?

How Do You Know You Over Fertilized Your Lawn?

Fall is just around the corner, which means for a lot of people it’s going to be time to fertilize the lawn. So, you go to the local home and garden store, get your fertilizer, spread it out and then – disaster strikes! Instead of looking lush, your lawn is now brown and patchy. What went wrong? Let’s explore how to know if you’ve gotten a little too overzealous with your lawn fertilizer and what you can do to fix it.

The Symptoms

There are signs of over-fertilizing that just shout “You messed up!” Yet there are other signs that are a bit more subtle. The most recognizable sign that something just isn’t right is the crusting of fertilizer on the top of the soil. That’s a great indication that you’ve put way too much on there!

A few additional symptoms include

  • Brown or yellow tips on the blade of grass
  • Limp or black roots
  • Leaf scorch or fertilizer burn
  • No growth or very slow growth after fertilizing

The reason you’re seeing these signs? It’s due to the amount of salt in the topsoil, which makes it challenging for the grass to absorb water. This stunts growth and kills the tiny plants at their roots – the opposite of what you were trying to achieve!

The Ways You Can Over Fertilize

Sure, you can dump a whole lot of fertilizer on at once and achieve over fertilization in a snap, but there are some other, sneakier ways it can happen too. If your soil doesn’t drain well, then the fertilizer can build up and cause problems such as root burn. You can try to combat this with slow-release fertilizers, but many people make the mistake of adding more when they don’t see the results they want in the timeframe they think it should happen. Be patient, people! Only apply what is recommended and then sit back and wait to see what happens — good or bad!

What You Can Do

Fear not – all hope is not lost! Any time you notice any of the symptoms talked about here, you can take the steps to swoop in and save your grass from long term damage! Start out by physically removing any fertilizer build up you see on the soil – without adding new soil on top. Then, water your lawn. And then water your lawn some more. That first day, water your lawn until it can’t absorb any more water. This will help to flush out the salts and dilute them to help the roots recover.

Water every day in the morning in order to continue flushing the soil, which will also help to reduce the chance of a fungus taking up residence in your lawn! This should work to help get all that fertilizer out so your grass can begin to recover from this small little lawn care blip.

It’s so important to follow the directions on any fertilizer you buy and only apply the amount suggested by the manufacturer. But hey – we get it – there’s a learning curve when it comes to lawn care and maintenance. Just try to fix it as soon as you can!

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.