Fertilization [Benefits and Application]

Lawn Care

By Evan Rivers

Every homeowner desires a green, luscious lawn. Unhealthy grass can easily take away from your home’s beauty, even if you have high-quality landscaping and a gorgeous home. There is much more to keeping your lawn beautiful than just mowing it: proper fertilization is sometimes necessary to maintain the dense carpet of grass you desire. 

Grass requires certain elements for optimal growth. Your grass gets these elements from water, the air, and the soil. If any elements are missing, your grass’ growth will suffer. Luckily, fertilizer can supplement these missing elements to give your grass the best possible chance for growth. Professional lawn care service providers like Rivers Lawn and Landscape are experts on the science behind fertilizer. They can use this knowledge to promote the best health of your grass and give you the lawn you’ve always dreamed of. 

Benefits of Fertilization

There are many benefits to fertilizing your lawn. The most obvious benefit is healthier, more beautiful grass. However, the benefits go far beyond aesthetics.

Weed Reduction

Fertilizer is a mixture of chemicals that promotes your grass’ growth. Many homeowners may think this means that fertilizer would promote weed growth. While this can be true in some circumstances, fertilizing your grass can sometimes cut down on weeds in your lawn. Many grass fertilizers have weed killers in them, so as you are promoting grass growth, you may be simultaneously discouraging weed growth. Additionally, fertilizer makes grass grow taller, stronger, and thicker. This will allow it to have more dominance over the soil and the environment. When grass is taking up all the water and nutrients in the soil, the weeds cannot compete. Therefore, the grass will grow tall and strong, and weeds will suffer.

Disease Prevention

Many homeowners have to deal with big sections and patches of dying grass each year. It seems as though the grass dies with no explanation. However, this can sometimes be due to disease. If your grass is unfertilized, it is weaker and less healthy. This can make it more susceptible to disease. It is the same concept as human disease. If humans are weak, frail, and unhealthy, they are more likely to get a disease and be in poor health. When you use fertilizer on plants (similar to giving humans medication), you make your grass stronger and give it a better chance of fighting off disease before it can cause major damage.


Fewer Pests

Just as weak, unhealthy grass is more susceptible to disease, it is more susceptible to pest infestations, too. When your grass is healthier and stronger, it is less likely to die from pests.

More Even Growth

Most lawns do not have identical conditions across the whole lawn. Some portions are shady, some portions are on an incline, and some portions receive more rainwater than others. These inconsistencies in your lawn can lead to uneven grass growth. The sunny, better-irrigated areas of your lawn will experience more plentiful growth while the other areas don’t look nice. Fertilizer can help to provide these less healthy areas with nutrients that will encourage their growth. As a result, your lawn has a better chance of growing more evenly throughout your property.

Decreased Erosion

Soil erosion is the washing away of soil at the ground’s surface. This washing away occurs due to a lack of stability on top of the soil. However, having a strong, thick layer of grass on top of the soil can give the top layer of soil the stability it needs. When your grass is thick and healthy, it has a strong, tightly woven root system. This root system holds the top layer of soil in place and prevents it from washing away in heavy rainstorms.

Less Mud

Many lawns have varying elevations. This can pose an issue with heavy rainfall or even when heavily watering your lawn. Areas of low elevation can experience pooling, which can lead to muddy areas in your yard. Not only is mud unsightly, but it can also be dangerous, causing your family to slip and fall. It can also cause lawn care equipment or other vehicles to get stuck on your lawn. This is inconvenient, and the trauma from the tires can severely damage your grass. However, when you fertilize your lawn, the thick root system that grows will be able to soak up more water from the soil. This could decrease the amount of mud you have on your lawn.

Increased Curb Appeal

When you combine all of these benefits of fertilization, the ultimate benefit is a beautiful, healthy lawn. When your grass has the green, tall, strong, uniform appearance you desire, your home will automatically have more curb appeal. This will be very beneficial to you when you are ready to sell your home. Although passers-by may not directly notice your healthy lawn, it will complement other areas of your property, such as your home and your landscaping. At the end of the day, it’s much better for prospective buyers to overlook your grass and notice other parts of your beautiful property than to be so distracted by your dead grass that they don’t notice the good aspects.

Application Tips

Although fertilizer can do wonderful things for your lawn, it must be applied correctly to work correctly. Since fertilizer is a chemical, you must prioritize safe application over cheap application. However, if you rely on a professional lawn care service provider to do the job for you, you can rest assured that you will have a safe, healthy lawn.

Soil Testing

Every lawn is different. Different properties have different balances of nutrients in the soil, and this can have different effects on your grass. This also means that your grass’ needs depend on the nutrients that are specific to your soil. In order to get a direct analysis of your soil, get a soil test. This will give you a “behind-the-scenes” look at what’s going on in your lawn and how to best treat it.

Choosing a Fertilizer

Lawn fertilizer has three main elements that help promote your grass’ growth: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. There are many different types of fertilizer on the market that have different balances of these elements. Your soil test will give you a good idea of which fertilizer is best for your lawn, as it will tell you which nutrients you need to supplement most. This can be a complicated process, and it is best to rely on the experts to do a chemical analysis on your soil and decide which fertilizer is right for you.


Fertilizing at the Right Time

Just as using the right type of fertilizer is important, it is also important to fertilize your lawn at the right time. Many homeowners find it most beneficial to fertilize in the spring and in the fall.

  • Benefits of Spring Fertilization: Fertilizing in the spring is beneficial for two reasons. First, it keeps it looking beautiful throughout the late spring and summer, the time when most homeowners want their grass to look its best. Second, it encourages strong root development that will carry the grass through the harsh summer heat.
  • Benefits of Fall Fertilization: Fertilizing in the fall has benefits as well. Again, since fertilization encourages strong root systems, this will help the grass survive through the harsh winter.

Watering Your Lawn

In preparing for having your lawn fertilized, it is important that you give your lawn the best opportunity for absorbing the fertilizer. Watering your lawn before fertilization may make the fertilizer more effective because your grass will be better prepared to absorb it. The best window for giving your lawn a deep watering is a few days before fertilization.

Using the Right Tools

Now that you’ve chosen your fertilizer and prepped for its application, it is important that you choose the right tools for spreading it. The general term for the tool used to apply fertilizer is a spreader, and there are several different types. The two main types of spreaders are broadcast spreaders and drop spreaders:

  • Broadcast Spreader: Spreads fertilizer over a wide area of grass
  • Drop Spreader: Offers more control; drops fertilizer in an area no wider than the wheels

You may need both types of spreaders to reach all areas of your lawn. For more information on different types of fertilizer spreaders, refer to Home Depot’s guide. 

house with landscaping

Proper Handling

Fertilizer solves many problems when used properly, but it can also cause problems when mishandled. Fertilizer can be very dangerous if ingested. Therefore, we should use the best practices to avoid allowing animals or children to come into contact with it.

If you over fertilize your lawn or allow fertilizer into your street, the excess fertilizer can end up washing into bodies of water. This can put animals in danger as well as encourage bacteria and algae growth in the water. Additionally, fertilizer (like any chemical) should always be kept out of reach of children.

To learn more about proper handling and storage of fertilizer, the University of Massachusetts offers great resources. Since fertilizer can be so hazardous, it is a wise option to let a trusted lawn service professional to handle application. 

Next Steps

If you want to give your lawn the best chance of beautiful, dense, full growth this season, consider utilizing fertilization. Fertilization can not only improve your grass’ look, it can prevent disease, erosion, and pests, and it can increase your curb appeal. If you need help with soil testing or choosing and applying a fertilizer, the professionals at Rivers Lawn and Landscape are here to help. We are dedicated to providing high-quality, professional service at the best value for your dollar. Contact us for a free estimate.