How often should I fertilize my lawn?

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How often should I fertilize my lawn?

Adding fertilizer to your lawn is one of the main ways to ensure that your grass is as healthy as possible. Throughout each growing season, your grass will slowly deplete its nutrient levels and these should be replenished manually. The trick in performing this task is to know how often you should fertilize your lawn.

Knowing how regularly to apply fertilizer to your lawn depends on the time of year. During late spring and early summer, your lawn will need to fertilize your lawn more frequently than during the late summer and early fall/autumn. This is because your lawn is more active during the spring and early summer and will be able to withstand more frequent applications of feed.

The rate of grass growth will slow during the late summer and early fall/autumn so, therefore, the lawn will require fewer nutrients.

This article contains two tables, one for U.S. gardeners and the other for U.K. gardeners, that list the most popular fertilizers. The tables refer to fertilizers that are designed to be applied at different times of the year.

How often should fertilizer be applied?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. As a rule of thumb, fertilizing a lawn twice a year is sufficient when applying a fertilizer with a high nutrient content. The best advice is to choose a single supplier and product for that particular year/growing season and follow the instructions that they provide, paying attention to the recommended frequency of application. Some granular fertilizers will only require two applications per year, as they slowly release their nutritional value to the soil.

Soluble feeds can be applied from anywhere between every three weeks through to annual applications depending on the product chosen.

Working out how often to apply fertilizers is tricky, so we have created two tables below explaining how often to apply popular U.S. and U.K. fertilizers. The tables will help you choose which fertilizers are the best choice depending on what you are looking to achieve or which problems you are looking to overcome with your lawn.

Can you fertilize your lawn too much?

It’s very easy to fertilize your lawn too much. Fertilizing your lawn with too much fertilizer in one application or not allowing enough time between applications, leads to three problems.

  1. Lawn burn – Brown or yellow patches of grass will appear on your lawn in the areas that have had too much nitrogen. This will kill the grass and it will need to be reseeded.
  2. Excessive growth – The sudden new growth of grass blades will mean that you will need to water your lawn more frequently. This can be a problem during the drier months of early summer.
  3. Pollution – Excessive applications of lawn feed can run off into nearby streams and waterways. The phosphorous in the fertilizer will create algae blooms that are dangerous to some wildlife.

As long as you follow the instructions found on the packaging of the fertilizer, the three problems above can be easily avoided.

Can I fertilize my lawn every 2 weeks?

Applying a fertilizer every two weeks isn’t recommended as this will likely lead to problems such as lawn burn, excessive grass growth, and pollution to waterways.

A natural way of feeding your lawn every two weeks would be to leave the grass clippings on the lawn surface when mowing your grass. The grass clippings contain low nutrient levels that will slowly be absorbed by the soil as they naturally decompose and get eaten by earthworms. These won’t burn the lawn or cause excessive growth. You might have to scarify your lawn more often due to this additional organic material being present, however, it’s recommended that you should do this every late summer or early fall/autumn anyway.

Most synthetic fertilizers are not recommended to be applied every 2 weeks, due to their night nutrient content.

For U.S. based gardeners, we have found that Extreme Grass Growth Booster (See Amazon for latest price)*, is the only popular lawn feed on the market that can be applied once every 4 weeks to a lawn.

For U.K. gardeners, we have found that Empathy Supreme Green* (See Amazon for latest prices), is the only popular fertilizer on the market that can be applied once every 4 weeks to a lawn.

*Make sure to follow the instructions on the packet to ensure application frequency before spreading this on your grass.

The recommended frequencies of fertilizer application can be found in the tables further down in this article.

How often do you have to wait between fertilizer applications?

Fertilizers with a higher nutrient content will mean that you need to wait longer between applications in comparison to lawn fertilizer with a lower nutrient content. Some fertilizers can be applied once every four weeks whereas some you will need to wait as long as twelve weeks before you feed your lawn.

Knowing how long you will need to wait between applications will differ between the specific lawn fertilizer you have purchased.

A good tip to ensure that you don’t over-fertilize your lawn is to make a note on a calendar the date you applied the lawn food. Read the instructions on your chosen fertilizer to see when the manufacturer recommends reapplying the feed. Then workout when the feed should be reapplied and add this date to your calendar.

Alternatively, set a reminder on your smartphone to prevent over-feeding.

The recommended frequencies of fertilizer application can be found in the tables further down in this article.

When to apply popular U.S. fertilizers

Below is a guide detailing how often to apply popular U.S. lawn fertilizers such as Scott’s or Pennington. It also states the key features of the fertilizer. Please note that the table only lists the multi-purpose fertilizers. There are fertilizers available for specific grass types such as St Augustine or Bermuda however, the products below are suitable for all types of grass.

Please note that the table below includes Amazon Affiliate links.

*NPK = Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium

When to apply popular U.K. fertilizers

Below is a table detailing how often to apply popular U.K. lawn fertilizers such as Miracle-Gro Evergreen and Westland. Please note that some of the fertilizers below contain weedkiller. These can be applied to any type of grass.

Please note that the table below includes Amazon Affiliate links.

*NPK = Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium

When should I fertilize my lawn in spring and fall?

As well as knowing how often to apply fertilizer, it’s also key to know when to apply the fertilizer. To answer this question, it is recommended that you should always follow the instructions found on the label of your chosen fertilizer. However, following the general tips below will help you decide when to fertilize the lawn:

  • Apply when the grass is actively growing.
  • Apply when the soil is damp and the grass is dry.
  • Apply when the grass is frost-free.
  • Don’t mow the lawn 3 days before or after applying the fertilizer.

Applying fertilizer outside of the period stated on the instructions as well as the guide above will run the risk of damaging your lawn so it is important to pay attention to this.

Don’t apply fertilizers to your lawn during the winter months as the grass is dormant and will not achieve any better results. Applying fertilizer in the winter will increase the chance of polluting waterways by excessive run-off of the nutrients into nearby streams.

How often should I fertilize a new lawn?

Don’t fertilize a new lawn until the grass is actively growing and you have mowed the lawn at least three times. Then use a fertilizer that will promote strong roots without a surge in grass growth while keeping the lawn weeds at bay.

For U.S. based gardeners, fertilize your lawn with Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass Plus Weed Preventer (See Amazon for latest prices).

U.K. gardeners should use a lawn fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro EverGreen Premium Plus Weed Control Lawn (See Amazon for latest prices).

These fertilizers will slowly release nutrients into the lawn. You will only need to apply these once every 12 weeks while the lawn becomes established.

It’s also worth mentioning that if you apply a crabgrass preemergent fertilizer or a regular weed and feed, ensure that you have waited four weeks before sowing your new grass seed.