How to Use Fertilizer for Grass


The state of your lawn makes a statement about you, like it or not. A patchy, weedy, scraggly lawn screams "neglect," while a lush, green carpet surrounding the family home is the absolute essence of the American Dream. It is not only pleasing to the eye, it creates a welcome environment that any homeowner would be proud to return to at the end of the day. Creating this type of lawn can be a challenge, but you can increase your odds of success with regular applications of fertilizer to your grass.

Step 1

Test your soil for deficiencies. This will help you decide which fertilizer is best for your grass. If you are unable to test your soil, select a general purpose lawn fertilizer made from slow release granules. Look for the numbers 3-5-2 or 4-5-1 on the bag. These numbers represent the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in fertilizer formula.

Step 2

Select a spreader. There are two basic types used to distribute granular fertilizer--broadcast or drop. The broadcast spreader is the better choice for large lawns as it casts the granules in a wide, but even, path. The drop spreader is more precise in its delivery and is therefore a better choice for those who have smaller lawns, or lawns with a lot of landscaping as it is easier to use in tight spaces.

Step 3

Test the spreader to be sure it is operating correctly, opening and closing the mechanisms and adjusting the setting to the appropriate rate of application. Adding too much fertilizer can chemically burn the grass. If you're not sure which setting to use, check the back of the bag. Different brands have different recommendations; be sure to follow yours.

Step 4

Measure out the recommended amount of fertilizer for your lawn size. Again, depending on the brand you select and the size of area being treated, you may need part of a single bag or you may need multiple bags.

Step 5

Place the spreader on a flat piece of pavement or asphalt. Transfer the fertilizer into the hopper. Sweep any spills into the grass. Fertilizer left on concrete will not be absorbed and will end up in the water supply.

Step 6

Apply the fertilizer. Start in one corner of the yard and push the spreader slowly across the lawn, moving back and forth in straight lines. Try not to overlap the application at the edges. When you have completed this application, cover the area again making new rows at right angles to the first treatment. Think of it as first walking up and down the yard, then walking back and forth across it.

Step 7

Water the grass, if necessary. Not all fertilizers require this, but many do.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear protective clothing and gloves when measuring the fertilizer as direct contact may irritate the skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil testing kit
  • Spreader
  • Fertilizer


  • Home Lawn Fertilization
  • Lawn Fertilizer FAQs
  • Lawn Fertilizer
Keywords: fertilize the lawn, put fertilizer on grass, how to make grass grow

About this Author

Lisa Parris is a freelance writer covering a variety of topics, particularly health and wellness. Her work has appeared in various publications including the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology" and "The Monterey County Herald." She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Peru State College.