Having a lush, green lawn doesn’t happen by accident. It requires care - and feeding - in the form of regular water and a quality fertilizer.
Grass doesn’t produce enough nutrients naturally, so it needs help to survive and thrive. Without fertilizer, you'll find your lawn turning yellow or brown, and perhaps even wilting and dying out.
The best lawn fertilizer provides a boost of vitamins and minerals that helps ensure your lawn cover is healthy. Your grass will also be able to resist weeds, pests and other diseases because it will be lush and strong. Robust grass can better withstand the wear and tear of kids and pets (and adults). Fertilizer also boosts the soil in which your grass grows, ensuring your lawn will stay healthy year after year.
We’ve looked at the best lawn fertilizer available to you, and answered some of those key questions about fertilizing your lawn, such as time of year, number of times and more.
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This all-around granular fertilizer can be applied to any type of grass, and in any season.
Here are the other reasons we love it:
- It helps build strong roots under the grass.
- It feeds the grass while also strengthening it.
- Apply any season.
- It improves the lawn’s ability to absorb water and nutrients.
- Scotts has an exclusive “All-in-One” particle technology that provides even feeding.
- Scotts is a well-known name with a reputation for grass care.
- Easy to use with a granular spreader. Apply to a wet or dry lawn, and then water immediately after application.
This is a go-to choice for a fast release fertilizer that’s easy to spread.
Here’s why it’s a good option:
- Works instantly and you’ll see results in just a few days.
- Feeds all grass types.
- Easy to use with a Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder attached to a hose.
This is an organic option that’s a good choice for liquid fertilizer.
Here’s why we like it:
- Is good on all types of lawns.
- Builds up grass that can withstand environmental stresses such as drought, heat, cold, and frost.
- Easy to apply with a hose-end sprayer.
Another organic option in a granular format.
Here’s why we like it:
- Organic Materials Review Institute certified 100% organic
- Ideal for summer fertilizer applications, and Lawnbox makes spring and fall varieties as well.
- Delivers both quick and slow-release nitrogen, providing immediate greening and extended feeding.
- Feeds up to 6 weeks.
- Helps with the extra traffic and hotter temperatures that your grass withstands in the summer.
From the famous Scotts name, this one helps with weeds as well..
Here’s why we like it:
- Fertilizer plus weed control delivers a double punch.
- Provides dandelion and clover control.
- Thickens lawn and helps to crowd out the weeds - even the ones you can’t see.
What You Need to Know About Lawn Fertilizer
Before you choose the fertilizer that works best for you, here are a few basics about lawn fertilizer:
- Fertilizer gives your grass the nutrients to grow and flourish.
- Fertilizer also ensures your grass looks good, with a dark green color that will be the envy of the neighborhood.
- Fertilizer protects your grass from the stress of heat in the summer and cold in the winter.
- Fertilizer makes your grass healthy enough to resist weed growth, because the roots will be strong enough to prevent weeds from taking hold.
Fertilizer has three components that accomplish this:
- Nitrogen for the thick growth and green color: N on the fertilizer package.
- Phosphorus for root strength and to help grass seeds germinate: P on the fertilizer package.
- Potassium for drought and disease resistance as well as protection from wear and tear and the weather: K on the fertilizer package.
The numbers on fertilizer packages, therefore, refer to the NPK ratio, or the amount of each type of nutrient contained in the fertilizer. For instance, homeowners often ask: Is triple 15 fertilizer good for lawns? Triple 15 refers to the fact the fertilizer contains 15-15-15, or equal parts of each of the three nutrients.
While triple 15 is considered a complete fertilizer, and one that promotes the three key factors noted above, it isn’t always the best choice for your lawn. It may be a good choice prior to the winter, but it may not be good for a new lawn.
Which may lead you to ask: What is the best fertilizer for my lawn? The best way is to know the type of grass you have, and the condition of your soil. A home soil test kit will help identify what your soil is lacking in nutrients, so you know what NPK value to choose. Otherwise, one of our all-purpose choices will be the best option.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many times a year should I fertilize my lawn?
There are different types of fertilizer, so to answer this question, it’s best to consider your climate and soil, as well as the type of fertilizer you plan to use.
Fast release fertilizers: The name says it all, as this fertilizer quickly boosts your lawn but doesn’t last long. As a result, you need to apply them frequently.
Slow release fertilizers: It takes more time to see results, but those results last longer, so you won’t have to re-apply as often.
Weed and feed fertilizers: The added bonus of some basic weed control makes these a good option, as long as they work against the type of weeds that you’re fighting.
Fertilizers for new grass: These usually don’t contain any weed fighting power because that affects the germination of the new grass seeds. So if you have new sod or you’ve just seeded your lawn, look for special fertilizers for this situation, usually called lawn-starter fertilizer.
Winterizer fertilizer: This special variety is applied late in the season to help your lawn fight the cold winter conditions.
How do I apply fertilizer?
Applying fertilizer is done two ways, depending whether you bought liquid or granular fertilizer.
Liquid fertilizers are usually applied with a hand pump sprayer, into which you also mix water, or by attaching a special fertilizer dispenser to a hose. These fertilizers get to work quickly since the liquid absorbs into the roots. It’s important to follow the application instructions, since it is easy to over-apply and burn the lawn. You will have to apply liquid fertilizer more often since this type is usually a quick release product.
Granular fertilizers are applied with a spreader. It’s a good idea to give the lawn a light watering just before and then just after application. This type of product is usually slow release. Be sure not to do the work in the heat of the day, as the granules can burn the grass.
What month should I fertilize my lawn?
Depending on your climate and the type of grass you have, you should fertilize your lawn 2-4 times a year. Start with an application in early spring, after the last frost. Then apply every 6-8 weeks, with the final application before autumn’s first frost. Of course, if you choose a fast release fertilizer, you may have to apply more often.
When you do choose to fertilize, avoid the hottest months, and apply in the morning or evening to avoid the heat of the day, since the fertilizer can burn the grass.
What is the best lawn fertilizer for early spring?
If you choose a fertilizer that is good at any time of year, you won’t have to worry about a special application in the spring. If you want to use different products, there are those that are made specifically for different seasons, including spring, summer and fall or pre-winter applications.
What if it rains after I fertilize my lawn?
It’s best to avoid rain when you plan to fertilize your grass. A big rainfall right after application washes away the fertilizer before it has a chance to do its magic. It’s best to try and apply a few days before a forecasted rain, or several days after. Otherwise, the money you spent on fertilizer will literally be washed down the drain, and you’ll likely have to start over with a new application.
On the other hand, if you apply granular fertilizer, a light rain before or after application can serve the purpose of “watering in” the granules, so you don’t have to do it with a sprinkler.
A lush, green lawn not only looks nice, it can also handle the wear and tear of foot traffic, kids playing in the grass, and pets enjoying the lawn. It’s more enjoyable to be outside when your lawn is in good condition. And, a healthy lawn can withstand the heat of summer, the cold of winter, and all the changing weather in between.
For that reason, knowing when and how to fertilize your lawn is an important tool in making your backyard one to love. Choose one of our top five to get the best lawn fertilizer for your yard.
About The Author
Ardith Stephanson has a journalism degree and spent years having fun as a sports writer for a national newspaper. She has also worked in communications and marketing, ran a successful communications business, and is a national award-winner. These days, she prefers to focus solely on writing, and to spend a lot of time in her backyard, where her garden, the firepit, local birds and her bee barn keep her busy and entertained. She writes about her adventures at theardizan.com