Best Lawn Fertilizer – Ultimate Guide to Select and Use

You’ve chosen the right grass seed, planted it at the right time, and followed watering guidelines diligently. The first green blades have appeared and you are on your way to a beautiful lawn, right? No, the next important consideration is fertilizer.

Like actively growing children, lawns use lots of energy. Soil does provide some of the nutrients your lawn will need, but just as people may need nutritional supplements, so does grass. Fertilizer provides those nutrients. The three basic nutrients lawns need are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen promotes fast growth and rich green color. Phosphorus stimulates healthy root systems. Potassium promotes overall health and helps your lawn keep from falling prey to diseases and weeds.

The trick is to use the right fertilizer at the right time. First, be sure to choose a fertilizer specified for lawns. Fertilizers for flowers, shrubs, and edibles have different compositions to meet their nutritional needs. It is helpful to perform a soil test to determine acidity. If the level is below 5.5 choose a fertilizer with lime to lower the acidity. If you get a reading of above 7, a fertilizer containing sulfur will reduce alkaline levels.

You can use the table of contents above to take a whole look at the article. If you have limited time, please check the comparison table to go to our top recommendations. Let’s get started:

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Features

Further information

- Brand: Scotts
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 3.5 x 12 inches
- Item Weight: 3 pounds
- 70% thicker, 35% quicker
- Fertilizer ratio: 24-25-4
- Cover up to 1,000 sq. ft.
- Great for sod and grass plugs

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Miracle-Gro Lawn Food

- Brand: Miracle-Gro
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 5.5 x 10 inches
- Item Weight: 5 pounds
- Feed up to 7,200 sq. ft.
- Available Sizes: 5 lbs.
- Fertilizer Analysis: 30-0-6

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Unco Industries Organic Worm Castings Fertilizer

- Brand: Unco Industries
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 8 x 4 inches
- Item Weight: 15 pounds
- Size: 1 Gallon
- Green Gobbler contains 20% acetic acid
- Eliminate any type of weed in just a matter of hours
- Use on crabgrass, dandelions, clover weeds, white clover, moss, etc

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- Brand: Milorganite
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 17 x 23 inches
- Item Weight: 36.7 pounds
- Fertilize up to 2,500 sq. ft.
- Comes in 36 pounds bag
- Contains 4 percent non-staining iron for deep greening

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Simple Lawn Solutions Lawn Food

- Brand: Simple Lawn Solutions
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 3 x 9 inches
- Item Weight: 3 pounds
- Cover up to 3,200 sq. ft.
- Premium 16-4-8 Balanced Lawn Food
- Nitrogen, Phosphorus & Potassium Nutrients
- Also Contains Seaweed and Fish
- Made with Feed Grade Ingredients
- Great for Every Grass Type
- Concentrated Solution

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Classification of Fertilizers

Understanding the types of fertilizers available is critical for success in any gardening endeavor including maintaining a healthy lawn. Fertilizers may include naturally occurring organic or inorganic substances, or they may include substances prepared synthetically. These are then classified according to the crop-to-crop need of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. Following is a brief breakdown of fertilizer types.

  • Direct fertilizer, directly assimilated by the plant
  • Indirect, used to improve soil
  • Complete, supplying all essential elements
  • Incomplete, supply one or two elements
  • Natural organic, plant matter & farmyard waste
  • Artificial organic, meat from slaughterhouse, animal excrement
  • Natural inorganic, rock phosphates, potassium, etc.
  • Artificial inorganic, chemicals

Reading Fertilizer Labels

All fertilizers come with information about the nutrients it contains on the label. Listed will be the N-P-K ratio, (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium). For example, a 25-4-2 fertilizer contains 25% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus, and 2% potassium. A 10-10-10 formula contains equal parts of the nutrients at 10 percent. For any missing component, the ratio will show a zero. For example, a 12-0-0 formula has nitrogen with no phosphorus or potassium. Fertilizers sold in bins rather than boxes, bags, or bottles display the N-P-K ratio on the bins. Write it down on the bags you bring home.

fertilizer-labels Fertilizer Labels Example

Fertilizers that contain all three major nutrients is known as a complete fertilizer. If one or two of the three are missing it is called an incomplete fertilizer. General-purpose fertilizers contain equal amounts of the three major nutrients. The nitrogen ratio may be slightly higher. Finally, special-purpose fertilizers are formulated for specific needs.

Nitrogen is your lawn’s most valuable nutrient, and each type of grass requires a different amount. Choose a formula with a high nitrogen content such as 16-6-4 to use in the spring. This will promote thick, green grass.

When to Fertilizer your Lawn

The type of grass you have determines when to fertilize your lawn. Fertilize just before the peak growing phase. In the south where lawns have warm-season grasses, fertilize in late spring or early summer. Summer lawns suffer from heat, insects, and heavy traffic, so fertilize again in late summer. For lawns that go dormant in winter, do not fertilize after the first of September.

The frequency of fertilizing will affect the appearance and maintenance of your grass. The more often you fertilize, the more often you will need to mow, but a healthy lawn will discourage weeds.

Cool-season grasses should be fertilized in early fall. These are sometimes called winterizing fertilizers. This application, done in October or November should be all that is needed to ensure a green lawn in the spring.

Tip: Check the weather report and fertilize before a predicted rainfall. Otherwise, water just before fertilizing and again afterward.

Organic Lawn Care Practices

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Organic Lawn Fertilizer

Organic lawn care practices have gained in popularity in recent years. Composting is a great way to promote earth-friendly lawn care. The nitrogen from the compost reaches the roots slowly, helping to avoid heavy nitrogen leaching. In addition to feeding grass, compost also builds up the soil, making it rich in micronutrients, microorganisms, and organic matter.

The time to use compost is in the early spring. If you plan to aerate the soil, spread compost to give the roots a boost. Add the compost by the shovelful in several places.

Another organic lawn practice is adding clover to your lawn. It provides a natural nitrogen source by converting nitrogen from the air into nitrogen that will reach the roots. Clover was actually a core component for lawns before modern herbicides came available. It provides drought-resistant evergreen foliage even in cold regions.

Grass clippings are also a great, free source of nutrients for your lawn. After mowing, simply leave clippings on the lawn and you will be adding nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. This will stimulate biological activity. Research shows that leaving clippings of just one-half inch will supply up to 40% of the annual fertilizer your lawn requires.

Take care not to smother the grass with thick, wet clippings. Instead, rake these up and use them as compost elsewhere. Also, be sure to mow regularly if you intend to use this method. It is also wise to use a mower that turns clippings into fine bits.

How to Fertilize Your Lawn

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Use a broadcast or rotary spreader when fertilizing lawns

You can choose between handheld, walk-behind, drop, and liquid spreaders to apply fertilizer to your lawn. Use a broadcast or rotary spreader when fertilizing larger lawns. Walk slowly and evenly, when using a handheld spreader, making sure to overlap a little on each pass.

Warm-season grasses will need about three to four pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of lawn each year. Cool-season grasses will need one to two pounds per 1,000 feet per year. As a rule of thumb, count every eight steps as 10 feet.

It is helpful to break your lawn up into measurable sections when applying fertilizer. This can be done by sketching out a rough drawing of your lawn and dividing it into a few large rectangles, squares, circles, and triangles. When you have the areas determined for each shape, add them up to get the total area of your lawn.

Most Recommended Lawn Fertilizers

1. Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Starter Food 

Whether you are reseeding your existing lawn or establishing a new one, this new fertilizer from Scotts Turf Builder is an ideal option for you. This highly effective fertilizer consists of a significant combination of all the nutrients that seedlings need, and it can make grass grow a lot faster and thicker. This starter lawn food promotes blade and root development to give the new grass a quick and healthy start.

Key Features and Benefits

  • With this fertilizer, your grass will grow 35% quicker and 75% thicker.
  • Improves seeding outcomes drastically to a significant margin.
  • It’s safe for all grass types, including grass plugs and SOD.
  • 24-25-4 ratio of fertilizer provides a perfect balance of all the essential nutrients for developing healthy lawns.
  • 3lb packet of Scotts Turf builder can cover up to 1,000 sq. ft., making it perfect for home lawns.

2. Miracle-Gro Lawn Food 

 

Now you can feed the grass while watering your lawn with the Miracle-Gro water-soluble fertilizer. This lawn food contains a high ratio of nitrogen and chelated iron, specially formulated for turfgrass. It instantly feeds through the grass blades and roots to facilitate rapid growth. This lawn food is a fast way to grow a thick, green, and healthy lawn. It will give you a soft green carpet of grass that you can proudly show off in your neighborhood. All you need is a Miracle-Gro garden feeder, a water hose, and you are good to go.

Key Features and Benefits

  • The container comes with 4 individual refill packs of lawn food for hassle-free feeding.
  • Water-soluble fertilizer allows you to feed the lawn while watering, so you won’t have to spend extra time on feeding.
  • Safe for all grass types. It won’t harm or burn other plants or your lawn when applied as a direct.
  • Only one tablespoon of lawn food is enough for a single gallon of water. 5lb of fertilizer can feed up to 7,200 sq. ft.
  • For best results, it should be used with Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder.

3. Unco Industries Organic Worm Castings Fertilizer 

 

The worm castings organic fertilizer by Unco Industries is the best organic lawn food that you can get to keep your lawn healthy and green. It’s an all-purpose natural fertilizer with pure earthworm castings, straight from mother-nature with no additives or alterations.

From lawn grass to flower plants and vegetables, a handful of fertilizer is enough to keep your plants thriving. Earthworm castings contain an adequate amount of water-soluble nutrients, which enables the plants to easily absorb all the trace elements and vital nutrients in no time. If you are looking for a decent organic lawn or garden food, then this is the ideal fertilizer for you.

Key Features and Benefits

  • This non-toxic and odor-free all-purpose organic fertilizer, made from pure earthworm castings, is safe for all plant types, including vegetables.
  • 15lb fertilizer in a single packet. Only a handful is enough to keep your plants healthy, which makes it one of the most cost-effective fertilizers.
  • Balanced nutrients in this fertilizer are available in two forms. Half of the nutrients are absorbed instantly, and the rest allow for slow absorption so that plants get the nutrients continuously for a long time.
  • It can be used on both indoor and outdoor plants.

4. Milorganite Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer 

Milorganite is another effective organic fertilizer with a substantial amount of nitrogen content. It’s made from composed heat-dried microbes using one of the oldest recycling actions. The dried microbes are filled with nitrogen and nutrients that can effectively encourage plant growth.

With 80% water-insoluble organic matter, the nutrients are released gradually and absorbed through the roots slowly to ensure uniform plant growth and a healthier lawn, with a better and deeper root structure. Trusted and used by homeowners and golf course professionals for 90 decades, for its consistent and long-lasting outcomes, this fertilizer is a great organic alternative.

Key Features and Benefits

  • All-purpose nitrogen-based slow-release fertilizer that can be applied on lawns, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, and trees. It can also be used as a carrier while spreading grass seed.
  • It doesn’t contain any salt, and it won’t burn or harm your plants and grass even in the driest conditions or hottest temperatures.
  • Also provides organically complex iron to the plants throughout the feeding time. It will not stain your concrete, unlike iron salts in most synthetic fertilizers.  The iron promotes a long-lasting, vibrant green lawn.
  • Slow-release encourages steady growth and minimal runoff. As the nutrients last 10 weeks after application, it requires fewer applications, hence making it a cost-effective fertilizer.
  • A 36lb bag can fertilize up to 2,500 sq. ft. You can keep it in a dry place to store it indefinitely.

5. Simple Lawn Solutions Lawn Food 

 

The Simple Lawn Solutions lawn food is one of the most convenient complete lawn fertilizers available on the market. What makes it extremely convenient is that it comes with a ready-to-spray bottle for effortless and fun feeding.

This complete liquid fertilizer has advance balanced nutrients formulated to provide turfgrass growth and make your lawn greener while delivering sufficient energy for deeper root support, stability, and health. If you are looking for a balanced, ready-to-use liquid lawn food to maintain a thriving lawn, then this is a perfect choice for you.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Complete nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium lawn food with an advanced 16-4-8 ratio of balanced nutrients, which is perfect for all grass types.
  • It enhances soil nutrients and makes your grass healthy, strong, and vibrant green.
  • Also contains fish and seaweed to provide maximum nutrition.
  • Liquid lawn fertilizer with ready to spray bottle for easy and convenient lawn feeding.
  • Premium feed grade ingredients that are safe for plants and also burn-proof.
  • Ideal for turf, this 32-ounce bottle of liquid fertilizer can cover up to 3,200 sq. ft.

No matter what type of grass you choose, the right fertilizer for your particular lawn is an important component in growing and maintaining a healthy lawn. It is a healthy lawn that will be more resistant to weeds, insects, and diseases.

4 thoughts on “Best Lawn Fertilizer – Ultimate Guide to Select and Use”

  1. Thank you for your insight into choosing the right fertilizer for your lawn. I especially appreciate your comments on reading the fertilizer labels and what to look for. This will be very helpful as I search for the right fertilizer brand to go with.

  2. I agree that you would want to consider fertilizing cool season grasses in the fall. It would be good to consider this because it would show that they are qualified and experienced. My brother is looking for a fertilizer for his garden, so he’ll have to consider what season he should fertilize in.

  3. Thank you for sharing this ultimate guide to select and use fertilizers. Absolutely helpful to all gardeners. Keep on sharing valuable ideas.

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