The Best Way to Fertilize a Lawn


Healthy lawns require proper fertilization. Grass requires heavy nutrition, particularly nitrogen, in order to thrive. A healthy, well-fertilized lawn is less likely to suffer weed problems because the well-fed grass chokes out weeds before they have a chance to establish themselves. Properly fertilized lawns also are more drought-tolerant because their root systems are healthy and able to make the most of the moisture in the soil. Feed lawns with the proper fertilizer on a regular schedule to realize the greatest benefit.

Step 1

Apply a fertilizer with a nutrient ratio close to 3-1-2. The first number refers to nitrogen, the second to phosphorous and the third to potassium. A 10-3-7 analysis fertilizer is close enough to the required ratio to be sufficient for most lawns.

Step 2

Fill the tub of a fertilizer spreader with the fertilizer granules.

Step 3

Adjust the settings on the spreader to apply 5 to 10 lb. of fertilizer per every 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Step 4

Push the spreader across the lawn, walking at a moderate, even pace. Cross back and forth across the lawn with the spreader in rows that overlap by 6 inches. This ensures even coverage of the lawn.

Step 5

Water the lawn immediately after fertilizing. The water leeches the fertilizer into the root zone of the grass, where the lawn can access it immediately.

Step 6

Fertilize regularly. Apply 5 lb. of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn every six weeks from when grass begins growing in spring until July. Apply 10 lb. per 1,000 square feet every six weeks from August until the grass returns to dormancy in late fall.

Tips and Warnings

  • Applying fertilizer to wet grass can cause fertilizer burn to the lawn, which leaves behind brown patches. The only exception is fertilizers containing weedkillers because these must be applied to slightly damp lawns in order to work properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Fertilizer spreader
  • Garden hose or sprinkler


  • The Ohio State University Extension: Fertilization of Lawns
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Fertilizing Lawns
Keywords: fertilizing lawn grass, feeding grass, lawn care

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.