Skip to Content

How Often Should You Fertilize Your Lawn?

spreading fertilizer How Often Should You Fertilize Your Lawn?

Maybe the real question should be, “How often do you want to cut it?” Proper fertilization keeps your lawn healthy and growing all season. 

You should plan on fertilizing your lawn at least two times per year. More often may be needed in some areas. But applying fertilizer too often, or applying too much fertilizer can burn the grass or encourage weeds.

Too much fertilizer can be a problem and too little can be a waste of time and money. You will also need to factor in watering and weather conditions.

Hopefully, this article will help you strike the right balance to achieve a lush green lawn.

Benefits of Proper Lawn Fertilization

Many of the benefits of lawn fertilization are obvious. Good looking dark green grass. Easy to cut consistently. Great play area for kids or grandkids. And you can annoy the neighbor with a better-looking yard.

A long-term downside of not fertilizing is the gradual deterioration of your lawn. You may need to reseed spots, or even reseed or sod the entire area.

manicured green yard How Often Should You Fertilize Your Lawn?
Having a beautiful lawn can provide many benefits, such as increasing the value and appeal of your property, providing an inviting atmosphere for outdoor activities, and a healthier environment.

Factors That Determine Lawn Fertilizing Frequency

Although you do not need to turn lawn fertilizing into a grade nine science project, the more information you have the better your results will likely be. You can then choose the best fertilizer to achieve the results you want.

Soil Conditions

Knowing whether your soil is alkaline or acidic, wet or dry, and how much sunlight it gets helps you decide on the amount, type (mixture), and how often you should fertilize. You can purchase an inexpensive soil meter for around $15.00 to provide this information. 


Most fertilizers require water to activate. Otherwise, those little white beads just lie on the surface accomplishing nothing. If you trust your weather forecaster, plan to fertilize about 48 hours before the rain starts –preferably a slow steady soaking rain. Heavy rain may cause run-off taking your new fertilizer with it.

If it is not going to rain, you can still fertilize–then water. At least 1⁄4“ of water is needed for most products. Rain or watering washes the fertilizer off the grass blades, onto and into the soil.

Just make sure your lawn is not in the middle of a drought or three-week dry spell. Fertilizer needs a good watering to soak into the soil. If it just sits on top of the soil without being incorporated it can burn your lawn.

watering lawn after fertilizing How Often Should You Fertilize Your Lawn?
Watering your lawn after fertilizing is essential to activate the fertilizer and maximize its benefits.


Many people fertilize 4 or 5 times a year. This may not be optimal where you live because of your climate. For instance, Where we live, most of the rain falls in April and May; then again in September. July and August are generally dry and hot. Fertilizing once or twice in the spring and once in the fall is more effective and less wasteful.

Living in a wetter warmer climate with a longer growing season allows you the option of fertilizing more often. Although it may not be necessary.

Grass Type

Unless you seeded your lawn, there is a good chance you will not know the type of grass growing there. Check with local landscapers and/or garden centers. They will be able to tell you the type of grass seeds used in your area.

Note: The clerk at a big box store who was selling shingles last week may not be your best source of information.

Cool Season Grass

Cool-season grass like Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass grow best in the northern United States. They grow best in the early spring and early fall. Fertilize them then. They can become virtually dormant during hot dry summers. 

Warm Season Grass

Warm-season grasses include Bermuda grass, St. Augustine’s grass, and zoysia grass among others. Used in the southern United States, they grow best in midsummer heat and can be fertilized throughout the growing season. 

hands holding fertilizer How Often Should You Fertilize Your Lawn?
Proper lawn fertilization is key to healthy, lush grass

Best Practices for Lawn Fertilization

Apply fertilizer to your lawn when it is actively growing. Nutrients will spread throughout the plant structure. Roots will be stronger and grass will be greener.

Timing of Fertilizer Application

Not only is the time of the season important to fertilization but so is the time of the day. Cool and damp conditions produce the best results. Making applications in the morning is the ideal time. Fertilize about 48 hours after rain or after you have watered the lawn and a couple of days before heavy rain.

Fertilizer Types

Choose the type of fertilizer that is best for your situation.

  • Synthetic Fertilizer. Quick release gets fertilizer into the soil fast.
  • Granular Fertilizer. Almost all fertilizers are granular for easy application and absorption.
  • Liquid Fertilizer. Used mostly by professionals. Very effective and fast acting but difficult to apply evenly.
  • Organic Fertilizer. Long lasting slow-release fertilizer requiring fewer applications.
  • Starter Fertilizer. Quick-release product for new lawns or spot reseeding.

Fertilizer Amounts 

Read all of the directions before application to determine the rate of spread. Most granular fertilizers recommend around one pound of product per 1000 square feet of lawn per application.

Using a spreader is recommended to evenly distribute the fertilizer over an area, ensuring that each patch of grass gets the nutrients it needs.

calculate fertilizer amounts How Often Should You Fertilize Your Lawn?
Using a spreader helps to ensure an even and accurate application

Choosing the Right Lawn Fertilizer

Many fertilizers are effective for 3 to 4 weeks. Meaning you can re-apply them about every month. But some-time released products have a distribution lifespan of 2 to 8 months. Make sure you know what product you are buying.

Most lawn fertilizers are a combination of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). All types of combinations are available. For instance, 30-0-4 fertilizer has more nitrogen than 24-0-5. Grass will grow faster if fertilized with more nitrogen.

Note: Too much nitrogen and you will have to mow the grass way more often. It could also end up producing spindly and weak blades.

mulching lawn to fertilize How Often Should You Fertilize Your Lawn?
Leaving grass clippings on your lawn with a mulching blade to make them smaller and fall through the grass quicker is an excellent way to replace natural nitrogen

Mulching and Fertilizing While Mowing

Leaving grass clippings on your lawn instead of bagging and hauling them away is an excellent way to replace natural nitrogen. A mulching lawn mower blade makes the grass clippings even smaller. They will fall through the grass easier and decompose quicker.

Note: You will have to cut the grass more often because even a mulching blade can leave a carpet of clippings that may not fall through the grass. If cuttings lay on top for a day or two grass will begin to die.