Wondering how to save your over-fertilized lawn? Are you concerned about why your lawn grass has turned yellow after fertilizing and possibly burning?
In this post, you will find out how to fix over-fertilized lawns.
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 is less likely to get sick, stops weeds from growing, and can even survive a drought.
However, there are other factors that may cause your lawn to be unhealthy.
Watering and mowing your lawn is easy. With a sprinkler and a lawnmower, you do not need to do any computations or exert any extra effort to keep your lawn beautiful.
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 to 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 frequently should you fertilize, and your location and climate.
There are guides that can provide you with insight into how to fertilize your lawn properly and how to fix your lawn if you add too much.
Related post: Seasonal Lawn Care Guide and Tips
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Fix Your Over-Fertilized Lawn
- 2 Effects of too much fertilizer on your lawn?
- 3 Can Over-Fertilized Grass Grow Back?
- 4 How Often Do You Need to Fertilize Your Lawn?
- 5 Tips for fertilizing your lawn safely
- 6 FAQ
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 References
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 in your lawn. If you notice fertilizer crusts in the soil, remove them and make sure you do not add more soil on top of the affected area.
Try to remember the date when you last applied your fertilizer as well as the brand.
Next, pull out the 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.
What do fertilizer burns look like?
When green leaves suddenly turn yellow or brown, you have to figure out what’s wrong to find out why.
You notice that the discoloration is only isolated in a patch of your lawn.
There are no weeds or insects in your vicinity. Your lawn is evenly watered every day, so dehydration cannot be the cause.
You should water your lawn especially when the weather is hot outside.
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 adding too much fertilizer to your lawn.
Fertilizer burn can also happen when fertilizer is put on directly through the leaves, though this is less common.
Fertilizer crusts also appear within the affected patch, indicating that you have used too much fertilizer.
Symptoms of fertilizer burns may appear as fast as one day if you used inorganic fertilizers, or it may take a week if you used slow-release fertilizers.
Water Your Lawn
Whether your grass is just dehydrated or over-fertilized, the best way to fix it is to water it. You can use a hose or a sprinkler system. Water all parts of your lawn.
This will spread out the fertilizer evenly across your lawn and give the grass much-needed water.
On the first day, water the lawn until it cannot absorb any more water, so all the excess minerals will be flushed out.
Water your lawn in the mornings every day and follow this regimen for a week. Watering your lawn every day will definitely flush out all the fertilizer that might be stuck underneath.
Re-Examine the Grass Roots
After a week of watering, you either see an improvement in your grass or discoloration is still present.
Either way, pull out another piece of grass and check its condition.
If the roots are still limp or look shriveled, then consider replacing the grass in the affected area.
The affected area is rinsed of any minerals due to the constant watering for a week, so you can reseed in there.
Prepare Your Substrate
You need to remove all the brown and shriveled grass from the affected area before you 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.
Related post: Will Watering Dead Grass Bring My Lawn Back Life?
Planting the New Grass Seed
Once your substrate is ready, you can now re-seed the affected area. It’s advisable to re-sod (or even overseed your lawn with new grass seed) the area if it has 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. Set up a border around the area you’re reseeding so you can avoid it when you mow your lawn.
Effects of 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 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 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 from the ground.
If you put in too much fertilizer, the excess nutrients and minerals—such as nitrogen—will leach into the soil.
These mix in with the soil and gradually become part of your soil’s composition and end 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.
Can Over-Fertilized Grass Grow Back?
Grass, in general, is a very durable and robust plant.
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 sprouts appear and the grass breaks easily when touched, it is time to replant a new batch.
How Often Do You Need to Fertilize Your Lawn?
Ideally, you need to fertilize your lawn twice a year. It is 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 grasses like Bermudagrass, Buffalo grass, 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 fertilizing your lawn safely
Fertilizing can be easy, but poor judgment and lack of foresight may cause problems with 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 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 building 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 are backed by their own certifications and credentials.
What does over-fertilized grass look like?
Over-fertilized grass will appear as yellow and brown strips or areas of dead grass. This occurs because the excessive nitrogen and salt levels from the extra fertilizer will rise in the soil and dry out the area, causing fertilizer burn.
Why did my grass turn brown after I fertilized?
Grass turns brown after fertilizing because the soil absorbs the mineral salts and chemicals that are in the fertilizer and dries out any moisture. Hence, when you over-fertilize, the salts accumulate in the soil and have a drying effect, causing the grass to turn yellow or brown—known as “fertilizer burn.”
How long does fertilizer burn last?
Fertilizer burn on grass will last anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. If your grass has been over-fertilized, it will develop yellow streaks or patches within two weeks of fertilization. This is the early stages of fertilizer burn.
You can tell a lot about a person based on their lawn. That is why it’s important to maintain your lawn and keep it pleasant and healthy.
Even if we take good care of our lawn and keep up with regular maintenance, there are times when something strange can happen to it.
This can be borne out of our own negligence or ignorance. Luckily, over-fertilizing is one of those abnormal conditions, and this can be rectified.
You need to first observe any changes or abnormalities in your lawn. An over-fertilized lawn is generally characterized by 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 determine 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 lawns. It would be better if you followed proper fertilizing tips so you could 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 continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.