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How to Spread Fertilizer on the Lawn

By Alicia Bodine ; Updated September 21, 2017
Fertilizers should be applied to lawns to keep them healthy.

Fertilizers are made up of three basic ingredients: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. These are the ingredients needed to keep a lawn as healthy as possible. There are two ways to deliver the fertilizer to the soil in your lawn. You can either spray a liquid fertilizer or you can spread a granular fertilizer. Spreading a granular fertilizer can be done easily, and you will be able to see exactly where the granules have fallen. This lets you know that you have successfully covered all of the areas in your lawn.

Take a soil test kit and collect soil from your lawn. You can mail the kit to find out what nutrients your soil needs. This will help you choose a fertilizer later on. Soil test kits can be purchased from garden centers and some colleges and universities.

Purchase a granular fertilizer that contains extra of the nutrients your soil test indicated that you were lacking. For example, if your soil is deficient in potassium, you would look for a granular fertilizer that is high in potassium.

Wait for a day that has wind speeds of 10 mph or less to apply the granular fertilizer. Wind will move the fertilizer around after you apply it, possibly making the application uneven. You also want to make sure you apply the fertilizer on a day when no rain is expected. The rain will wash the fertilizer away.

Put on long clothing and a pair of boots. Then add a pair of gloves to protect your body from coming in contact with the granular fertilizer. The chemicals in the fertilizer can cause skin irritation.

Place your granular fertilizer in a spreader. Set the spreader to release the granules at the rate specified on the product label.

Block your lawn off into 10-foot-square sections. Push your spreader from west to east back-and-forth until you've covered the entire square. Then push the spreader from north to south back-and-forth across the entire square. Repeat the process in each 10-foot-square section until you have covered the entire lawn.

Water your lawn so the fertilizer seeps down into the soil. A light watering will do. You don't want to drench your lawn.


Things You Will Need

  • Soil test kit
  • Granular fertilizer
  • Long clothing
  • Boots
  • Garden gloves
  • Rotary spreader


  • Read the fertilizer product label to see how often you should fertilize your lawn. Many lawns require fertilization two to three times per year.


  • Keep your pets and small children off the lawn until it has dried completely.

About the Author


Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for 13 years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Demand Studios, GoBankingRates and WiseGeek. Bodine is passionate about gardening, travel, education and finance. She has received awards for being a top content producer.