Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Compare Lawn Fertilizer

By Lisa Larsen ; Updated September 21, 2017
Fertilizers keep your lawn healthy
red and yellow cowheelbarrow in a green filed image by Ramon Pantalon from Fotolia.com

A multitude of lawn fertilizers are on the market, their packages strewn with various numbers representing their contents. Some fertilizers include weed control. Some include pesticides. Some have high amounts of nitrogen while others do not. For the consumer, purchasing lawn fertilizer can be a daunting task. But don’t worry, with a bit of knowledge you’ll find that the information conveyed on your bag of fertilizer is easily deciphered.

A healthy lawn takes work
coniferous lawn image by evvigo from Fotolia.com

Determine what you want your fertilizer to do. The choices consist of greening up the grass, controlling weeds, killing pests or, perhaps, all of the above.

Nitrogen greens up your lawn
lawn image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com

Understand what the numbers on the fertilizer mean. There will always be three numbers. Each represents the percentage of three major nutrients. The first number is nitrogen (N), the second is phosphorus (P) and the third is potassium (K). A bag of fertilizer that says 30-10-15 contains 30 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus and 15 percent potassium.

You can control weeds and bugs with one application
Dandelion lawn image by Mladenov from Fotolia.com

Use a fertilizer with a high nitrogen percentage to green up your grass. Phosphorous and potassium strengthen your lawn and make it grow.

Use a fast release fertilizer in the fall.
autumn image by voven from Fotolia.com

Use slow-release fertilizer in the summer months to avoid burning the grass and promote uniform growth. Use fast-release fertilizer in the fall and winter months. Fertilizer packages will indicate the release rate.

Use slow-release fertilizers in the summer
lawn image by Sergey from Fotolia.com

Apply fertilizer containing pesticides if your lawn is prone to chinch bugs, mole crickets or grubs.

Some fertilizers control weeds in your lawn
girl - looks through lens image by Petr Gnuskin from Fotolia.com

Apply fertilizer that contains weed control if your lawn has broadleaf weeds, dandelions, clover or other weeds. Often this type of fertilizer is called weed and feed.

Winterizing fertilizers ready your lawn for spring
winter image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com

Use winterizer fertilizer, which is high in potassium, for late fall applications.



  • When you see a lawn you admire, ask the owner what fertilizer is being used. This is a great way to see expected results.

About the Author


Lisa Larsen has been a professional writer for over 18 years. She has written radio advertisement copy, research papers, SEO articles, magazine articles for "BIKE," "USA Today" and "Dirt Rag," newspaper articles for "Florida Today" and short stories published in "Glimmer Train" and "Lullwater Review," among others. She has a master's degree in education and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.