How to Apply a Lawn Fertilizer


Lawn grass is one hungry plant. Grass requires a lot of fertilizer to thrive. During the summer months, high-maintenance turfgrass quickly depletes a lawns nitrogen reserves. Low-maintenance grasses require 1 to 2 lbs. per 1,000 square feet, while high maintenance turf grass requires around 3 to 4 lbs. of nitrogen application per 1,000 square feet, per year says the University of Minnesota. Correct application of nitrogen fertilizer is essential for even growth throughout the lawn, keeping the grass green and preventing disease.

Step 1

Determine the type of grass you have in your lawn and research its annual nitrogen requirements. All grass varieties have different fertilizer needs. Low-maintenance lawns will usually consist of red fescue, chewing fescue, hard fescue, or common types of Kentucky bluegrass, while high maintenance lawns have perennial rye grass and improved Kentucky bluegrass varieties.

Step 2

Measure the length and width of you lawn and multiply the two figures to get the square feet of the lawn. Fertilizer is applied in 1,000 square feet measurements. Calculate the amount of nitrogen you will need according to the size of your lawn.

Step 3

Determine the nitrogen weight in the bag of fertilizer you buy to determine how much of the bag is used to cover the area of your lawn. A 20 lb. bag with a rating of 23-0-6 will have 23 percent of its weight from nitrogen. 20 lbs. times .23, divided by 1,000 square feet equals 4,600 square feet, meaning the bag of fertilizer will cover that area.

Step 4

Weigh out the amount of fertilizer required for your lawn and add the fertilizer to your drop spreader and set the spreader to your desired application rate. Mark off an are,a of 1000 square feet on a flat, concrete surface and test the application by opening the drop spreader and walking the marked off length. Weight the amount of fertilizer released and subtract it from the beginning amount to determine if the spreader is adjusted properly. Chenge the setting accordingly.

Step 5

Apply the fertilizer on your lawn spreading half of the fertilizer in one direction, then crossing the first application going in the other direction. Use the previous passes tire marks as a guideline. Water the fertilizer thoroughly after application says Clemson University to prevent the grass from burning.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop fertilizer spreader
  • Fertilizer
  • Measuring tape
  • Broom


  • University of Minnesota: Fertilizer lawns
  • University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: Fertilizing your lawn
  • Clemson Cooperative Extension: Fertilizing lawns
Keywords: lawn fertilizer, applying lawn fertilizer, fertilizer application

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.