Proper Lawn Fertilization


A healthy, well-tended lawn is not only attractive, it is also better able to handle stress during hot, dry periods. Deep roots, watering and proper fertilization all provide the necessary components to a healthy lawn. Too much fertilizer burns lawns, while too little leads to weak growth. Nitrogen provides the most important nutrient to the lawn, advises Ohio State University Extension, but over-application leads to overly fast growth. Frequent, light applications add the necessary nutrients at a rate the lawn can sustain.

Step 1

Water the lawn thoroughly the day before fertilizing, as fertilizer may damage overly dry grass. Soak each area of the lawn for 15 minutes, as this allows the moisture to penetrate down to the root zone.

Step 2

Apply 5 pounds of 10-6-4 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn in spring when the lawn begins actively growing again, usually in April or May. Apply up to 10 pounds of 10-6-4 in July and up to 20 pounds in October or November right before the lawn goes dormant for winter.

Step 3

Move the lever on the fertilizer spreader to the closed position. Pour the fertilizer into the spreader until the spreader is 1/2 to 2/3 full. Adjust the application rate knob on the spreader until it is set to the proper setting for the fertilization rate necessary.

Step 4

Open the release lever so the fertilizer comes out the bottom of the spreader. Push the spreader across the lawn at an even pace. Close the release lever when you reach the end of the lawn and turn the spreader back around.

Step 5

Open the release lever and push the spreader at the same pace down the next row. Overlap the rows by 3 to 5 inches to ensure even coverage. The slightly higher fertilizer application in the overlapped area does not damage the lawn. Continue to walk the spreader up and down each row until the entire lawn is fertilized.

Step 6

Water the lawn within 24 hours of fertilizer application. Wait 48 hours to water if you used a fertilizer that includes a weed killer as this gives the weed killer time to work.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not fertilize a lawn that is browning due to drought or other stress. Wait until the lawn is fully hydrated before resuming fertilization.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Fertilizer spreader


  • Ohio State University Extension: Lawn Care Plans
  • Colorado State university Extension: Lawn Care
Keywords: proper lawn fertilization, fertlizing lawn grass, lawn nutrients

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.