When you are fertilizing your lawn, mistakes are easy to make. Read along, avoid these blunders and you’ll be thrilled with your lawn and get the most for your buck.


If you have tried everything and your lawn is still no looking good, it may be a good idea to have the soil professionally tested. The results will provide important information that will help determine what type of fertilizer you should use and how often you should apply it.

The best time to test your soil is early spring just before your lawn comes out of dormancy. Don’t collect samples after fertilizing. This will skew the results. And don’t use do-it-yourself kits! They may be less expensive but they aren’t very accurate. Your county extension office, reputable garden center or local university can help you test your soil accurately.


If you apply too much fertilizer, a good share of it will leach through the soil and make its way into our precious groundwater, lakes, streams and wetlands. Lawn grasses only need a certain amount of food. More isn’t always better.

This excess of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium actually makes the grass weak and more susceptible to disease. It will also create too much thatch, which will ultimately choke out your lawn.


Fertilizing more than four times a year is overkill. In fact most homeowners could get by with two every year.

If you fertilize just once a year, apply it around Labor Day. That’s when your lawn is the hungriest and when it will respond best to the nutrients.

If you fertilize twice, apply the second application in mid to late spring and it can be combined with your crabgrass preventer.


Fertilizer can be a great tool to keep a lawn healthy, dense and great looking but it also create environmental concerns if not used responsible.

Never apply any type of fertilizer close to wetlands, rivers streams, lakes and ponds. Stay at least 8 feet away from water when applying fertilizer.

After you are done, sweep up and collect what remains on hard surfaces, such as your driveway, sidewalk or street. It fertilizer is left on these surfaces; rains will eventually wash it into water features and storm sewers.


In short, be a good environmental steward.