Wondering how to save your over-fertilized lawn? Or are you worried that why is your lawn grass turning yellow after fertilizing and possibly burned?
In this post you will find out how to how to fix over fertilized lawn.
Maintaining your lawn requires ample care and supervision. You need proper watering, mowing, and fertilization to keep your lawn healthy and pristine.
A healthy lawn can be highly resistant against diseases, discourage weed growth, and survive a drought.
However, there are other factors that may cause your lawn to be unhealthy. One of those factors is human error.
Just set the timer on your sprinkler and it will do the rest. You only need to mow your lawn once a week. So how can you go wrong if it is that easy?
It’s actually the type and amount of fertilizer used on your lawn.
Applying fertilizer on your lawn can be tricky. There’s a lot to consider when fertilizing; a perfect time or season to apply, the amount of fertilizer to use over the size of your lawn, how frequent should you fertilize, and your location and climate.
There are guides which can provide you an insight on how to fertilize. Your fertilizer bag may come with it’s own instructions. With proper use of fertilizers, your lawn can grow healthy and strong.
Table of Contents
- Understanding Fertilizer Burn in Lawn Grass
- Can You Over Fertilize Your Lawn?
- What does Fertilizer Burn Look Like in Grass?
- What Happens if You Put too Much Fertilizer on Your Lawn?
- How to Fix Your Over-Fertilized Lawn
- Will the Damaged Over Fertilized Lawn Grow Back?
- How Often Do You Need to Fertilize Your Lawn?
- Tips for Lawn Fertilizing Safety?
Understanding Fertilizer Burn in Lawn Grass
When your usual green foliage suddenly turns yellow or brown, you diagnose the problem to know the cause. You notice that the discoloration is only isolated in a patch of your lawn.
There are no weeds and insects in your vicinity. Your lawn is evenly watered everyday so dehydration cannot be the cause.
Then you remembered that you fertilized recently. Your lawn may be suffering from fertilizer burns.
Fertilizer burn is a condition where plant foliage looks burnt. The common cause of fertilizer burns is due to dumping huge amounts of fertilizer on your lawn.
Another cause of fertilizer burn is applying fertilizer is directly through the foliage, though this is more of an uncommon occurrence.
Fertilizer crusts also appear within the affected patch, indicating that you have used too much fertilizer.
Symptoms of fertilizer burns appears as fast as one day, if you used inorganic fertilizers, or it may take a week, if you used slow-release fertilizers.
Can You Over Fertilize Your Lawn?
There are many ways to over fertilize your lawn. You might have just dumped fertilizer indiscriminately throughout your lawn.
You may also consulted multiple resources on the right amount of fertilizer but you failed to take into account other factors like the grasses’ affinity with your fertilizer, the season, and the climate.
You can also blame the soil quality, especially if it cannot drain water well. This allows fertilizer to be deposited and eventually become part of the soil.
There are also instances that you have used a slow-release fertilizer, got impatient with the result, and added more to the soil.
What does Fertilizer Burn Look Like in Grass?
Fertilizer burn in grass looks like dried out grass. The blades of the grass look dried out with colors ranging from yellow to brown.
If you pull out the grass to fully check the plant’s condition, you will also notice that the roots are brown or black and shriveled.
What Happens if You Put too Much Fertilizer on Your Lawn?
Having too much of a thing can be bad. This also applies to fertilizers. If left untreated, this will affect your whole lawn with long term damage and treatment will be next to impossible or too expensive.
Here are the effects of excessive fertilizer on your lawn:
Grass will Wither
Since the water is mostly being absorbed by the fertilizer, there will be none left for the grass. Dehydrated grass will wilt and discoloration will set in.
Your green grass will turn to brown or yellow as it tries to survive in its dehydrated state. The black roots will also be detrimental to the survivability of the grass due to its weakened ability to absorb nutrients in the ground.
If you put in too much fertilizer, the excess nutrients and minerals – such as nitrogen – will leach into the soil.
These mixes in with the soil and gradually become part of your soil’s composition and ends up being toxic for plant life.
Since plants – and in this case grass – require a healthy soil composition, it will be impossible to grow anything.
How to Fix Your Over-Fertilized Lawn
Fixing your lawn in case of a fertilizer burn can be easy. You just need to follow the steps of this guide so you can have that verdant green lawn back in its healthy condition.
But do note that over fertilized lawns may or may not be totally damaged, so you can omit some steps if need be.
Assess Your Lawn
Inspect your entire lawn. You are looking for brown or yellow patches. In most cases, you can only find a patch of discolored grasses.
Look for other irregularities within your lawn. If you noticed fertilizer crusts in the soil, remove it and make sure you do not add more soil on top of the affected area.
Prepare your gardening gloves, rake, shovel, and hose. Remember the date when you applied your fertilizer.
Remember the brand as well. This is to serve as a reference on how can you use this fertilizer properly next time.
Check the Entire Grass
Wear your gloves and go to the yellow or brown patch/es. Pull out a grass and check its roots. If the roots are black and look limp, then this may be a fertilizer burn.
If the roots look healthy, your grass may just be dehydrated. Try to pull out at least 5 grasses to check for consistency.
This will spread out the fertilizer evenly in your lawn and give the grass its much needed water. On the first day, water the lawn until it cannot absorb anymore so all the excess minerals will be flushed out.
Water your lawn on mornings everyday and keep this regimen for a week. Watering your lawn everyday will definitely flush out all the fertilizer that might be stuck underneath.
Revisit your Roots
After a week of watering, you either see an improvement on your grass or discoloration is still present. Either way, pull out another grass and check its condition.
If the roots are still limp or looks shriveled, then consider replacing the grass in the affected area. The affected area is rinsed from any minerals due to the constant watering for a week so you can reseed in there.
Ready Your Substrate
You need to remove all the brown and shriveled grass from the affected area to start reseeding or resodding.
You can use a rake to remove dead grass or you can wear your gloves and till the land.
You need to completely remove the dead grass, roots and all, in the affected area so you can give room to grow for the new batch of replacements.
Planting the New Grass
Once your substrate is ready, you can now reseed the affected area. It’s advisable to re-sod (or overseed) the area if it affected a substantial part of your lawn. If it’s only a minor area, then reseed the area instead.
Maintain and observe the growth of your new grass. Give it the same amount of water you give to your lawn. Establish a perimeter around the reseeded area so you can avoid it when mowing your lawn.
Will the Damaged Over Fertilized Lawn Grow Back?
Grass are durable plants. It can survive extended periods of drought and long, cold winters. But with the introduction of excess fertilizer into its system, it can be toxic for the strong grass, though it still has a chance to survive, depending on its severity.
After you water the affected area for a week and there are green sprouts appeared in its base, then your grass might still have a chance to regrow.
If no green sprout appeared and the grass break easily with touch, then you need to consider replanting a new batch.
How Often Do You Need to Fertilize Your Lawn?
Ideally, you need to fertilize your lawn twice a year. It is a good practice to fertilize your lawn in the season it grows fastest.
There are two types of grass to consider, warm-season and cold-season grass. As their name implies, they grow best according to the season.
Cold-season grass like tall fescue, fine fescue, and bentgrass are best fertilized by fall. This type of grass grows well during winter.
Fertilize your lawn again in early summer. Warm-season grass like Bermuda, Buffalo, and Zoysia should be fertilized by early summer. They grow steadily during the summer. You can apply another fertilizer by next year.
If your lawn looks healthy by the time it must have its second application, whether warm season or cold season grass, then you can postpone fertilizing your lawn.
Tips for Lawn Fertilizing Safety?
Fertilizing can be easy, but with poor judgement and lack of foresight, it may cause problems to our lawn. Since we want to avoid over fertilized lawns, we can follow these fertilizing tips to have our lawn green and healthy.
- Go Organic! If possible, go for organic fertilizers. They have virtually no sodium content and other chemicals that will can possibly build-up and most likely cause over-fertilized lawns. They are also the best slow-release fertilizers. You can have obtained compost from your local dairy farm since processed organic fertilizers tend to be expensive.
- Use Slow-Release Fertilizers. Use a slow-release fertilizer, whether organic or inorganic in nature. Slow-release fertilizers give you time to distribute all the fertilizer throughout your lawn. With constant watering, the minerals will be flushed throughout your lawn, not staying in one place and build up being impossible.
- Water Every Day. Water your lawn every day. This can be done with almost no effort. It is recommended to fertilize your lawn every six weeks if you have an automatic sprinkler and two weeks if you only have a hose as a hydration system.
- Use Granulated. Granulated fertilizers spread evenly in your lawn compared to your powder variants. It’s also easy to feed it in your machine or just dump it around using your hands.
- Consult an Expert. There is no harm in asking for professional advice when it comes to fertilizer and maintenance of your own lawn. They have years of knowledge and experience that is backed by their own certifications and credentials.
You can tell a lot about a person based on his lawn. That is why it’s important to maintain your lawn, keep it pleasant and healthy.
Unfortunately there are times, despite our due diligence and regular maintenance, that our lawn can be afflicted with abnormal condition.
This can be borne out of our own negligence or ignorance. Over fertilizing is one of those abnormal conditions, and luckily this can be rectified.
You need to first observe any changes or abnormalities with your lawn. An over fertilized lawn is generally characterized as yellow or brown patches.
This affected area may be confused as a dried patch. To be sure that this is indeed an over fertilized lawn, pull out the grass to check out the roots. If the roots are black, weak, limp, or shriveled, your grass can be afflicted.
If you determined that this is a result of an over fertilized lawn, then start watering your lawn every morning, every day, for the next five to seven days.
Observe if any improvement occurs after treating it with water. If the roots are still shriveled, consider replacing your grass. Till the dead grass of the affected area then rake it so you can remove other debris. It’s up to you whether to reseed or re-sod the area.
It’s easy, but time-consuming to fix over fertilized lawn. It would be better if you follow proper fertilizing tips so you can have that green healthy lawn you always want to maintain.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She furthered her gardening education by working on various organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to discuss gardening tips and tactics. Whether it’s succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs, growing and caring for just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden always makes her happy.