How Much Does Lawn Fertilization Cost in 2022?

Professional lawn fertilization costs typically range from $120 to $480 per service, with an average of $335.

For a green, lush, healthy lawn, you need to help your grass with fertilization. Professional lawn fertilization costs typically range from $120 to $480 per service, with an average of $335. This includes the necessary fertilizer, equipment, and labor.

Prices vary with lawn size, fertilizer type, location, and watering habits. 

You can pay more if you add related services such as aeration or weed removal. To save money, choose an annual package over single applications. Or apply the fertilizer yourself. 

Table of contents:

Average lawn fertilization costs in 2022

You can hire a pro to apply fertilizer on your lawn for $120 to $480 per service. Lawn care professionals take size into account when setting their prices. Typically, the cost per square foot lowers if the lawn is larger.

National Average Cost$335
Typical Price Range$120 – $480
Extreme Low-End Cost$80
Extreme High-End Cost$1,330

Prices from this table apply to medium-sized lawns between 6,000 and 10,000 square feet, calculated with a cost per square foot of $0.02 to $0.05.

You can lower costs by working with a company on an annual plan. Discounts for regular customers can be as high as 20 – 25%. Because labor is about 70 – 90% of the total cost, you can save even more by applying fertilizer yourself. 

Some homeowners combine lawn fertilization with related services such as:

  • Aeration
  • Dethatching
  • Mowing
  • Weed removal
  • Leaf removal

These services can raise the total price. They will also provide better nutrient absorption and support thicker, greener grass.

Prices can get higher if fertilization involves liquid fertilizer for faster results. Crystalline fertilizers are also more expensive, but they’re essential if your soil has a specific nutrient deficiency.  

Lawn fertilization cost estimator by lawn size

While total fertilization costs rise with the size of your lawn, prices per square foot tend to lower. 

For example, for a 5000-square-foot yard, companies ask between $0.02 and $0.08 per square foot of lawn. But, you can fertilize a lawn of ½ an acre for $0.01 to $0.03 per square foot. 

Lawn Size Typical rangeAverage overall cost 
1,000 sq ft$20 – $80$50
5,000 sq ft (or ⅛ acre)$100 – $400$250
10,900 sq ft (or ¼ acre)$200 – $450$300
21,800 sq ft (or ½ acre)$240 – $550$450
43,500 sq ft (or 1 acre)$450 – $850$600

Other factors that affect cost

You can pay more or less than the average for lawn fertilization depending on factors such as fertilizer type, how much your lawn is exposed to the sun, type of grass, and watering strategy.

Fertilizer type

For the average US lawn size, costs vary with fertilizer type from $130 to $400 (with labor costs for professional application). Prices are higher for:

  • Liquid lawn feed
  • Crystalline fertilizers
  • Slow-release products 
  • Organic plant food

The most affordable is granular grass food. It is also safer if you choose to spread it yourself. 

Remember that is important to choose the right fertilizer formula for your lawn’s specific needs. Take a soil test or hire a professional to find the best choice.

Cost for 5,000 – 10,000 sq. ft.
Type of fertilizerTypical rangeAverage cost
Fast-release$105 – $320$212
Gradual-release$160 – $470$317
Moss and fungus control$105 – $325$213
Weed and feed$105 – $325$213
Granular$130 – $350$242
Water-soluble$145 – $370$258
Liquid$150 – $550$353
Crystalline$160 – $470$317

Synthetic vs. organic fertilizers

With synthetic options, you can fertilize 5,000 to 10,000 square feet of lawn for $100 to $300. It can cost twice as much, from $200 to $500, if you choose organic fertilizers.

Synthetic fertilizers are man-made, usually from by-products of petroleum. They are a mix of:

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphate
  • Potassium 

Some might include iron, pesticides for insect control, and herbicides for weeds.

Synthetic fertilizers are easier to find, more powerful, and typically fast-acting. You will see your grass getting greener and thicker in no time. They focus more on plant growth and less on soil enrichment. They also lack some micronutrients found in organic options. This is why experts say to use an organic fertilizer at least once a year, in summer or fall. 

Organic grass food takes longer to make, so prices are higher. It is usually made with: 

  • Bone meal
  • Blood meal
  • Wood
  • Crushed shells
  • Cottonseed meal
  • Manure
  • Compost
  • Seaweed 

Organic fertilizers break down slower and focus on making the soil healthier. This prevents over-fertilization and burning. It also makes organic fertilizers safer for beginners and DIY projects. 

Fast-release vs. gradual-release fertilizers

For an average-sized lawn, applications of gradual-release fertilizers cost between $160 and $470. You need fast-release fertilizers more often, so the price is lower, but you have to buy them more regularly. With fast-release fertilizers, you can expect to spend $105 to $320 for an average yard.

Granular, water-soluble, or liquid lawn feed

When choosing between liquid and granular fertilizer, you should take into account a few important differences.

GranularLiquid
Recommended usesSafest for DIYBetter when applied by a pro
Price$150 to $350 for a 5,000 – 10,000 sq. ft. lawn.$150 to $550 for a 5,000 – 10,000 sq. ft. lawn.
Over-fertilization riskLow; slow-release, protects the plantsHigh; you can easily burn the grass
Nutrient releaseTypically slow-release. Benefits last longer but you won’t see results right away.Typically fast-acting and powerful. Choose for immediate results.
Frequency of useLess frequent, once at 6 – 8 weeksMore often, once at 4 weeks
Form Ready-to-use productReady-to-use product or concentrated, easy to dilute with water
ApplicationUse a spreader to disperse the granules on the lawn. They dissolve in time with water.Apply with your regular hose. Professionals use a sprayer.

You can also choose water-soluble fertilizers. These are concentrated granular or powder products that are more difficult to dissolve correctly in water. A beginner might burn the grass if the solution is not mixed correctly. That is why water-soluble should only be used by pros. The cost is between $145 and $370  for 5,000 to 10,000 square feet (fertilizer and labor)

Weed control 

Some fertilizers can also help prevent or stop the growth of weeds, moss, and fungus. They have herbicides in the mix for weed control. 

Look for pre-emergent formulas to prevent plants such as crabgrass from growing. Choose post-emergent for weeds already grown. You can buy fertilizers with weed control at an average price of $105 to $325 for a medium lawn.

Sun exposure

Full-sun lawns should get an average of 3 ounces of nitrogen per year for each 1,000 square feet. Grass in full sun needs more fertilizer to grow and recover from heat stress. Shaded lawns need only half that quantity of nitrogen.

Type of grass: cool-season vs. warm-season

You should always fertilize during your grass’s growing season because this is when:

  • Grass is hungry for nutrients and absorbs them more efficiently.
  • You get better results with less fertilizer.
  • Fewer chemicals leach into the groundwater.

The best time to fertilize cool-season grasses is in fall and spring, with an application before temperatures peak in the summer. They only need 1 – 2 ounces of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year.

Warm-season grasses grow in late spring and summer. They need 3 – 4 ounces of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year. So, if you live in the South and have a warm-season lawn, you might pay double to keep your lawn green.

Overwatering 

Grass needs 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. If you overwater your lawn, you can pay more for fertilization services. Plants will grow faster and ask for more and more nutrients to look green and lush. 

You can improve fertilizer efficiency by cleaning your yard before application. Compacted soil and a thick layer of thatch limit absorption rate and more fertilizer will be washed away by the first rain than will get to the roots. Get regular lawn care services (such as aeration and dethatching once a year) to get the most out of lawn fertilization.

Related servicesHow it helpsTypical price range
Weed removalPrevents wasting fertilizer on feeding weeds$65 – $170
Lawn dethatchingBreaks thatch and ensures fertilizer gets to the top layer of the soil$160 – $225 
Lawn aerationMakes it easier for nutrients to travel from the top layer of soil to the root zone$75 – $225
Mowing Gets waste out of the way for better fertilizer absorption$29 – $65
Leaf removalClears the way for fertilizer to reach the soil$155 – $460

Lawn dethatching 

Lawn dethatching cost typically ranges between $160 $225, with an average of $190. 

Thatch is a layer of dead grass formed at the soil’s surface. Under ½ inch thatch:

  • Keeps moisture in the ground
  • Maintains cooler soil temperatures
  • Prevents weeds from growing
  • Breaks down in time and provides valuable nitrogen

Over this thickness, thatch becomes a barrier. It stops fertilizer from getting into the soil, so you’ll waste a lot of the nutrients you spread. Dethatch before fertilizing to prevent this.

Weed removal

If you don’t want to feed your weeds when fertilizing, you should have them removed first. This way, more nutrients are available for your grass, and you avoid helping the weeds spread. 

You can remove weeds yourself or hire a local pro. Weed removal costs on average between $65 and $170 per treatment.

Leaf removal (before fall fertilization)

If you have a layer of dead leaves on your lawn, fertilizers might land on them and not get into the soil. Remove leaves before fertilization by yourself or by hiring a pro. Professional leaf removal cost ranges from $155 to $460 with an average of $280. 

Lawn mowing 

Mowing services cost $50 to $190 for an average lawn size. Or you can mow your own lawn by buying a mower. The cost of a lawn mower varies widely, from around $115 to $3,070. 

Mow your lawn and collect the clippings before fertilizing. Nutrients will have better access to the soil and roots. 

Apply fertilizer at least two days after mowing. Don’t mow again until the fertilizer is watered in. Otherwise, you can get granules on shoes and mower wheels.

Lawn aeration 

The cost of lawn aeration ranges from $75 to $225, with an average of $145. The role of aeration is to break down compacted soil and thatch. It makes it easier for water, air, and nutrients to reach grassroots. 

Aerate once a year when the grass is growing:

  • Late spring – early summer for warm-season grasses 
  • Early spring or late fall for cold-season grasses

Aerate your lawn before fertilizing so the grass can absorb more nutrients. 

Full lawn care services

If you want all of the above services (and maybe even more), you can choose to sign up for a pro lawn care package. It includes all the lawn care services you need (seeding, aeration, fertilization, etc). Prices are usually lower per individual service when you sign up for a package deal.

Cost of fertilizing your lawn DIY

Lawn fertilization is among the lawn care tasks you can do yourself with minimal cost and effort. All you need is fertilizer and a spreader. 

DIY cost breakdown 

If you want to apply fertilizer yourself, go for granular fertilizer. It’s the safest, and it’s easy to spread. Use a handheld spreader for small lawns or a broadcast spreader for larger yards. Here’s what you’ll spend.

Equipment/materialsTypical cost
Handheld spreader (for lawns under 5,000 sq. ft.)$10$30
Broadcast spreader (50-80 lbs) (for lawns over 5,000 sq. ft.)$100$250 for residential models
Granular fertilizer$30$70 per fertilizer application (for 5,000 – 10,000 sq. ft.)
Total DIY Cost:Lawns under 5,000 sq ft: $40 – $100Lawns over 5,000 sq ft: $130 – $320

How to fertilize your lawn DIY in 10 steps

Lawn fertilization can be easy if you know what you’re doing. Here are the basic steps to fertilize your lawn

  1. Measure grass area. Do not include landscaping plants.
  1. Decide fertilizer quantity and type. Buy the product.
  1. Water your lawn a few days before fertilizing. You can also clean and aerate.
  1. Put a tarp under your spreader and shut the hopper. Fill the spreader with granular fertilizer.
  1. Adjust spreader settings at half of the indications on the fertilizer bag. You will make 2 passes.
  1. Apply fertilizer around the perimeter. Make sure to avoid flower beds, sidewalks, etc.
  1. Spread the rest in the middle of the lawn. Walk back and forth in one direction, then do a second pass perpendicular to the first one (creating a sort of checkerboard pattern). This way, you avoid over-fertilizing and get a uniform spreading. Turn off the spreader before you turn or stop.
  1. Put the remaining fertilizer back in the bag, and close it tightly. Store it in a cool and dry place. 
  1. Sweep up and collect granules from pathways, walkways, etc. 
  1. Irrigate the lawn with up to ¼ inch of water. This helps granular fertilizer begin to dissolve. 

Don’t fertilize in hot and humid weather, as this could hurt the grass. Avoid application if you expect rain in the next 24 to 36 hours or a storm, hurricane, or flood.

DIY cost vs. professional cost

With just an affordable piece of equipment needed to fertilize your own lawn, DIY is significantly cheaper than pro, especially for large lawns. 

You pay $10 to $250 one time to buy a spreader and then $30 to $70 for each fertilizer application. Compared to lawn care companies’ pricing of $150 to $350 for each application of granular fertilizer, looks pretty good. 

Still, there are a few things a pro can do better than you can:

  • Deciding the right fertilizer type and quantity. You need to consider grass type, climate, location, and soil characteristics. With more than one factor, choosing can be difficult.
  • Setting a fertilization schedule. While fertilizing less is not a problem, it’s important to do it when your type of grass is growing. For a pro, it is easier to pinpoint the best time.
  • Spreading fertilizer evenly. If you don’t get it right, and you spread too much fertilizer in some areas, you will end up with burned grass. 
  • Deciding on how to prepare the lawn. A professional can easily test if your property needs aeration or dethatching before fertilization. 

Cost of lawn fertilization by location

Lawns in the northern US only need 2 – 3 applications of fertilizer per year. In the south, the growing season is longer, and winters are also warmer. So, 6 to 8 applications might be needed in some cases. That means the cost of fertilization, either pro or DIY, could double for some homeowners in the south.

You can also pay more or less depending on the city you live in. New York City is (predictably) one of the most expensive markets, with an average cost of $0.05 per square foot, while in places like San Diego or Denver, the average price is around $0.03 per square foot.

FAQ

How much fertilizer does your lawn need?

To decide how much fertilizer your lawn needs, first you need to know how much nitrogen it needs. It’s the primary nutrient in most lawn fertilizers, placed first among the three numbers showing composition (e.g. 10-0-5, meaning the fertilizer is 10% nitrogen).

Professionals say:

  • 0.75 to 0.9 ounces of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is enough nitrogen for a healthy lawn.
  • Don’t go over the total limit of 3.25 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year.

This means that a 50-pound bag with 20% nitrogen fertilizer (10 pounds of nitrogen) is enough to fertilize about 3,000 square feet for a whole year.

What’s wrong with over- or under-fertilizing your lawn?

Signs of over-fertilization include withered areas on your lawn. This is where you spread too much nitrogen. 

  • A little bit too much nitrogen over the needed quantity will give grass brown or yellow blade tips.
  • A lot of nitrogen actually burns (and potentially kills) the grass.

Under-fertilizing is not so bad. It’s better than over-fertilizing because it’s easier to correct (you can always add more fertilizer, but you can’t take it away once the soil has absorbed it). If under-fertilizing your lawn for a long time:

  • The soil becomes very low on nutrients
  • Grass grows less and slower
  • Grass ismore affected by disease and pests
  • Weeds start to grow

How much does artificial grass cost?

Artificial grass cost ranges from $2,970 to $7,100. Artificial grass doesn’t need fertilizing, watering, weeding, or any other routine lawn services. You can replace natural grass with synthetic turf if lawn care takes too much of your time and energy.

Should I fertilize my lawn before or after rain?

It’s better to wait two days after rain before fertilizing so the soil is moist and without pools. Also, ensure you’ll have at least two days before the next rain. This way, more of the fertilizer will be absorbed by plants and less washed away.

How do you change the soil pH?

Do a soil test before treating your lawn with fertilizer (or anything else). A pH that is too low or too high will negatively affect nutrient absorption. You can change soil pH by adding lime when values are lower than 5.5 or adding sulfur when pH is higher than 7.5.

Final thoughts 

Fertilize your lawn correctly, and you’ll step on green, lush, thick grass every morning. You can buy and apply the fertilizer yourself, or you can hire a pro for $120 to $480. Either way, make sure it’s the right fertilizer, at the right moment, perfectly spread. 

Photo by James Baltz on Unsplash

Sinziana Spiridon