5 Hacks to Get the Most Out of Your Fertilizer


Jul 31, 2020

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Fertilization is by far the most critical part of caring for your lawn. Sure, there are other maintenance items you do throughout the year, but none have the lasting effect of fertilization.

While many homeowners know just how vital fertilizer is, some apply once a year and forget about it until their lawn starts yellowing. Instead of taking the set-it-and-forget-it approach to fertilization, you can take your lawn care to the next level by making the most out of your fertilizer.

Below are five hacks to get the most out of your fertilizer.

1. Set a Fertilization Schedule

Lawn care is all about developing a routine, and no lawn care process relies more on routine than fertilization.

Fertilization requires a set schedule that’ll vary depending on your area’s climate and the type of grass you have. Find out the type of grass you have and the best season to fertilize it, then set a specific time of that season to fertilize. Make sure you choose a time when it’s least likely that any other tasks or events will interfere. This will ensure you fertilize the same time every time.

For example, if your kid’s birthday is April 3, and you often have a big party, you probably want to avoid scheduling your fertilization around that day. Set it for the week after their birthday.

Mark that day on the calendar every year so your family knows your plan and doesn’t decide to take a road trip to Aunt Edna’s house that day.

2. Test Your Soil Before Fertilizing

Your lawn has specific nutrient requirements. Too much of one nutrient or not enough of another can cause severe damage that can cost you time and money. This is why it’s critical to test your soil before applying fertilizers.

These tests will give you a breakdown of what nutrients your soil lacks and what it has plenty of. With this information, you’ll know what fertilizer will work best.

For example, if you test the soil and it comes back only low on nitrogen, a high-nitrogen fertilizer is all you need. If you were to use a balanced fertilizer, you might end up with too little nitrogen while the remaining nutrients go to waste, resulting in lost money and yellowing your turf.

You can pick up soil tests at virtually any home improvement or lawn and garden store. These at-home test kits usually require several small soil samples you mix with water and use testing strips or capsules to determine the nutrients present in your soil.

In some cases, these tests also check your soil’s pH level, which is another important factor in a lush lawn.

3. Increase Liquid Fertilizer’s Effectiveness With a Surfactant

For decades, professionals have used surfactants to help their products work better and stretch further. These formulas weren’t available for homeowners for many years, but times have changed, and these products are now available for home use.

Surfactants reduce the surface tension between the plant and the liquid fertilizer by creating a bonding layer between them. This increases the uptake of the fertilizer’s nutrients, resulting in quicker, more satisfying results.

4. Track Your Fertilization Pattern

A common cause of over- or under-fertilization is merely losing track of where you have and haven’t fertilized. This is especially true when using a liquid fertilizer.

The added benefit of a liquid fertilizer is you can mix it with other products, including a spray pattern indicator. A spray pattern indicator is a temporary dye that lightly colors your turf as you spray it with fertilizer or pesticide.

The coloring shows you exactly where you have and haven’t fertilized, helping prevent fertilizer burn from over-fertilization or yellowing grass from under-fertilization.

5. Fertilize Your Lawn With Grass Clippings

There are plenty of organic ways to fertilize your lawn, but one of the easiest is with grass clippings.

As grass clippings decompose on your turf, they release water, nitrogen, and other nutrients your turf needs. This acts as an excellent maintenance fertilizer to keep your grass healthy and green between fertilizations.

Use care when leaving grass clippings behind, though. Too many clippings can block out the sunlight and water your grass needs. So, make sure you’re cutting your lawn correctly before leaving the clippings behind as fertilizer.

Hacking Your Way to a Lush Lawn

Robotlike fertilization will likely get you a green lawn, but taking your fertilization game to a higher level will get you that neighborhood-envying deep-green lawn you crave. And you can reach that level with these five simple fertilization hacks:

  • Setting a firm schedule
  • Soil testing
  • Adding a surfactant
  • Using a spray pattern indicator
  • Leaving old grass clipping behind

With scheduling being an essential hack, now’s the time to set up your fertilization schedule so you can start preparing for the other hacks.