Don’t Over-Fertilize Your Yard!

Have you been over fertilizing your yard?  One of the quickest ways to kill your lawn is by over fertilizing it.

  • Chemical fertilizers are made up of mineral salts and will burn your lawn when done properly. The salts build up in the soil and cause a drying effect, resulting by turning the grass yellow or brown. It is hard to predict whether or not your lawn will recover.  Recovery depends on how quickly you intervene; the amount and type of fertilizer that was applied; the moisture available,

If you realize you have applied too much fertilizer follow these steps immediately:

  • Remove Fertilizer: If you’ve spilled granular fertilizer or can see it on the ground, grab a broom or wet/dry vac and get up as much as you can before it dissolves into the lawn.
  • Apply Water: As soon as you notice a problem with fertilizer burn, dilute and flush the mineral salts away from the roots of your lawn.  So, drag out the “SPRINKLERS!” and on the first day, water until the ground can’t soak in any more water. After that water every day for at least a week.  Be sure to water in the morning to reduce the risk of fungal diseases.
  • Wait and See: Like everything else, now there’s nothing else you can do except wait and see if your lawn will recover.  Unless it’s early spring with plenty of planting time left, I’d wait until the next planting season rolls around (fall for cool-season grasses, spring for warm-season grasses) before replanting.  Then overseed thin spots, and sow seed or sod in large dead areas.

To Prevent fertilizer burn from being a problem, consider:

  • Use Organic Fertilizer: Organic fertilizers must be broken down by soil microbes according to nature’s timeline, which significantly reduces the chances of burning your lawn.
  • Follow Fertilizer Instructions: Always apply fertilizer according to package instructions. Different fertilizers come in different strengths, and it’s important not to over apply them to your lawn.
  • Reduce Lawn Stress: Do Not fertilize lawns that are severely stressed by drought, heat, or disease – it won’t be absorbed and can cause further damage.

If the grass in your lawn is in poor condition, fertilize it very lightly to ease it back to health.  Resist the urge to feed heavily, since weak grass is easily burned by chemical fertilizers.