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How Can I Reverse a Lawn Fertilizer Burn?

Fertilizer burn dehydrates grass blades, producing a brown color. It is caused by applying too much organic and chemical compound fertilizer. Most chemical additions result in damage within one to two weeks. Organic compounds, such as manure, may take several weeks or a month to cause harm. Before you dig up the entire lawn and sow new grass, try to reverse fertilizer burn. The process takes several weeks from start to finish.

Mow the lawn at the recommended grass height. Remove all grass clippings, leaves and other debris from the lawn area. Shorter grass blades allow the lawn to focus on restoration instead of sustaining longer blades.

Secure a water sprinkler to the end of a garden hose. Turn the sprinkler to the lowest setting. Place the sprinkler on the lawn and run it for 30 minutes. Move the sprinkler to the next section and run it for 30 more minutes. Repeat with the entire lawn area. Wait several hours for the water to absorb into the lawn soil.

Spread 10 lbs. of gypsum powder over the entire lawn area by hand. Water the lawn with a light-spray attachment to work the gypsum powder into the soil. Gypsum powder neutralizes high-salt soils.

Repeat step 2 daily for one week. Examine for new growth at the base of the shoots. If no new growth is present, repeat this leaching process for an additional week.

Scatter grass seed in bare or thin spots after completing the soil leaching. Water thoroughly and allow seed to grow.


Leaching the soil with the gypsum powder restores the lawn’s ability to regenerate existing grass.


Leaching may cause nitrogen runoff to nearby vegetation.

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