How to Choose Lawn Fertilizer


A healthy, vibrant lawn is a result of good care and attention to detail. Soil quality and the nutrients therein are important factors when maintaining a healthy lawn. Fertilizers are used to maintain or increase the soil's nutrients when it begins to run low. Selecting the appropriate fertilizer for the lawn is one of the details that can make or break the lawn's quality.

Step 1

Purchase a soil test application from your local nursery or home improvement store. Before you can determine what the soil needs you must determine what the soil is missing. Follow the package instructions closely. Take soil samples from holes that are at least six feet deep. Complete the tests in the late fall or early spring. This will allow you time to make adjustments before the growing season begins.

Step 2

Understand the basic ingredients of fertilizer and how they pertain to your lawn's requirements. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the key components of lawn fertilizer. These components are required for healthy lawn growth. Choose the fertilizer based on the lawn's lack of these ingredients. The soil test results will list the important components that are missing from the soil. Use the information to select a fertilizer that includes the missing minerals.

Step 3

Choose between a liquid application and a granular application. This selection should be based on personal preference and the lawn's immediate need for fertilization. If the lawn is vastly starved of nutrients, choose a liquid application. Liquid fertilizers are fast acting, mostly concentrated, and applied after being combined with water. Granular fertilizers are dry and must be watered to become effective. Granular fertilization is ideal for all types of lawn. Liquid fertilizers should only be used with certain types of lawn. Speak with your local nursery or horticultural specialist for selection assistance.

Step 4

Choose between a quick release fertilizer and a controlled or slow release fertilizer. Quick release fertilizers generally require monthly applications and are quickly washed away by rainfall and watering. Slow release fertilizers are water insoluble applications that can last for several months. Slow release fertilizers are ideal for all types of lawn.

Step 5

Determine the soil's temperature when making your selection. Price can also be a consideration. Choose fast release applications when the overall climate is cool and the soil's temperature is cold. Select controlled release applications when the temperatures are warmer. Purchase fast-release applications when price is a concern and apply to the lawn every three to four weeks.

Step 6

Select a well balanced fertilizer once your lawn receives ultimate health. Choose a fertilizer that not only includes nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but includes secondary nutrients such as calcium and micronutrients such as chlorine, cobalt, and iron. Test the soil at the beginning and end of the growing season and make adjustments as necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test application
  • Shovel


  • Choosing Fertilizers for Home Lawns
  • Guide to Fertilizer
  • Choosing Fertilizers for the Lawn and Garden
Keywords: fertilizer selection, lawn macronutrients, slow release fertilizer, fast relase fertilizer, lawn soil test

About this Author

Charmayne Smith is a business professional. She has worked in management for successful organizations since 1994, and her writing career began with her business career. Her business has successfully assisted many clients with start-ups, development, and expansions. She has a bachelor's degree in business and has published with Identity Theft Chat, Garden Guides, eHow, Travels, Associated Content and others.