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Last updated: March 24, 2021
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If you’ve ever envied the lawn of a neighbor, you might be surprised to find that you can have a lush, inviting lawn too, with just a little extra effort. Lawns need more than just regular watering, they need fertilizer. There’s no shortage of options for these nutrient-rich formulas, though, so finding the best lawn fertilizer may seem like a particularly daunting, if not impossible, task.
Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the five best lawn fertilizers, including the best liquid lawn fertilizers and concentrates as well as the best granular formulas. Our top pick is the Advanced 16-4-8 Balanced NPK Lawn Food Natural Liquid Fertilizer, which is an amazing, all-natural liquid fertilizer that is great for any time of year. It is scientifically-balanced to provide your lawn and plants with an optimal blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If you prefer an all-natural, organic liquid formula for your lawn, this is the product to use. However, if you want some more options, we’ve screened several fertilizers with a variety of grass compatibilities to bring you the best of the best.
We considered many factors when choosing the best lawn fertilizer, including coverage area, type of fertilizer, the nutrients in each container and the weight of the bag or bottle. With all of that said, we’ve made a list of the best lawn fertilizers for you to use this year to care for your lawn. These reviews are followed by a buying guide, and after that, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions.
"2-in-1 formula that not only feeds your lawn with the basic, necessary macronutrients it needs but also provides your turf with added iron, which boosts the color of your grass already in three days."
"16-4-8 blend of macronutrients to treat any age of lawn, additionally, it contains a highly-bioavailable seaweed extract that will maximize the effects of the macronutrients and strengthen your lawn’s root system."
This advanced, balanced formula comes from Simple Lawn Solutions, and it’s a great way to nourish your lawn and plants. One gallon of this liquid fertilizer will cover up to 12,800 square feet of your lawn. You can use the gallon size to refill the 32-ounce spray bottle, or you can attach a hose-end sprayer to the gallon bottle directly.
This all-purpose liquid lawn fertilizer is perfect for all varieties of grass and provides a perfect blend of macronutrients for optimal growth. It is completely natural and organic, with high-quality ingredients including the raw macronutrients, fish, and seaweed.
This organic fertilizer is the best liquid lawn fertilizer out there and has some of the best reviews across the board.
What we liked:
Great for all grass types
Natural and organic - blended with seaweed and fish
Has a balanced, recommended ratio of macronutrients with a 4-1-2 ratio
Easy to use and apply to your lawn
No harsh chemicals
Comes in a range of sizes
What could be better:
Some customers have had difficulty in getting the fertilizer to dispense from the bottle, though the vast majority of customers have had no such problems.
If you want to avoid manures, poultry litter, and biosolids, this is the fertilizer for you. This fertilizer is entirely organic, created from plant-based nutrients. This keeps you, your family, and your neighbors from having to endure any foul odors as a result of maintaining your lawn.
Additionally, the fertilizer is designed to rejuvenate your lawn and promote a long, healthy life for not only your grass, but the ecosystem it’s a part of. Thanks to this brilliance in engineering, you don’t have to worry about over-fertilizing your lawn, since this fertilizer is made not to burn or damage your turf. This is by far one of the best organic lawn fertilizers available.
What we liked:
Available in one or two-pack quantities
A single 25-lb bag will cover up to 5,000 square feet of turf
Organic, non-toxic formula is safe for children and pets
Septic safe and odor-free
Requires fewer applications, saving you time and effort
Scotts is a brand name that you’re probably familiar with if you’ve had any previous experience with lawn or plant care. The Green Max formula is a dual-action, 2-in-1 formula that not only feeds your lawn with the basic, necessary macronutrients it needs but also provides your turf with added iron. This boosts the color of your grass in as few as three days.
Scotts puts out quality fertilizer mixes at a low cost, so you won’t break the bank fertilizing your lawn or plants. This formula can be used in all seasons and is recommended for use every six to eight weeks. Just be careful during particularly hot days in the summer, so that you can avoid any unnecessary fertilizer burn. But it’s safe for use on all grass types and is child and pet-safe, and will provide a lush, healthy lawn.
What we liked:
Works in all seasons, but exercise caution during the summer months
Fast-acting formula with plenty of nitrogen and additional iron
Granular fertilizer is easy to spread and will provide a deeper green color in as few as three days
Comes in two sizes and styles
You can immediately re-enter your lawn after application, as the formula is safe to come in contact with
What could be better:
Can cause fertilizer burns if applied in a particularly hot climate or during excessively hot weather
May cause staining on pavement or have an off-putting odor
If you’re looking for the best fall fertilizer for your lawn, the GreenView Fall Lawn Food formula should be at the top of your prospective list. Available in a 16-pound bag that covers up to 5,000 square feet as well as a 48-pound bag that will cover a massive 15,000 square feet, you’ll be able to cover a lawn of any shape or size to prepare it for the winter.
This is a great fertilizer to help prepare your lawn for the winter weather, where it will not receive as much sunlight or nutrients and will be dormant for the season. This will help to bring the grass right back to life come spring. The formula has a high level of nitrogen and no phosphates, which is ideal for overwintering your grass.
All things considered, this is the best fall lawn fertilizer without a doubt.
What we liked:
Feeds your lawn for up to eight weeks
A high concentration of nitrogen with no phosphates
Helps to retain water without threat of drowning your turf
Promotes early spring growth, as soon as the soil warms up your grass will begin returning to its lush green color
Affordable and cost-effective
What could be better:
This formula may not work well during droughts or intense dry spells
This formula may not work on lawns that are overstressed, infested, or diseased
LawnStar is a fantastic brand with a history in producing lawn care products that are guaranteed to improve the quality of your lawn, and this fertilizer formula takes the cake. Available in a manageable 32-ounce bottle, you’ll be able to fertilize a lawn up to 4,000 square feet with ease and confidence.
This formula is perfectly balanced with a 16-4-8 blend of macronutrients to treat any age of lawn, from new to established. Additionally, it contains a highly-bioavailable seaweed extract that will maximize the effects of the macronutrients, resulting in a rapidly green, long-lasting lawn. It will also strengthen your lawn’s root system and improve the stress resistance of your grass, no matter the type.
If you aren’t satisfied with this fertilizer, which is arguably the best lawn fertilizer for spring and summer, the manufacturer provides a 30-day guarantee. If you’re not happy with how your lawn looks within thirty days of purchasing and using this product, the customer service team at LawnStar will process a no-questions-asked return and refund. Their willingness to achieve optimum customer satisfaction and their great return policy might make LawnStar the best lawn fertilizer company in the opinion of many customers.
What we liked:
Contains both fast- and controlled-release nitrogen for a quick but balanced result
Great for all grass types and enhanced with bio-stimulants
Perfect for use during the spring and summer months
Easy to mix and apply
Economical solution for any size lawn
What could be better:
The bottle is sold with a “permanently attached” nozzle, meaning it cannot be refilled without altering the bottle and nozzle yourself.
Some customers had trouble with the nozzle attachment and bottle design.
Things to Consider
If you want your lawn to look its absolute best, you need to buy and use the best fertilizer for your soil and grass types. But there are many other factors to consider as well to ensure that you don’t burn your lawn with an excessive amount of or application of fertilizer, or underfeed your lawn so that it’s starved of nutrients. In this buying guide, we’ll go over some things to keep in mind and answer some common lawn care questions so that you’re more readily prepared to jump into properly caring for your lawn.
Why and when you need to start using lawn fertilizer?
Experts say that the best time to begin fertilizing your lawn after winter, for most parts of the country, is about mid-April when the lilacs begin to blossom and the grass noticeably begins to grow. You want the soil to be about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and that temperature often coincides with the blossoming of the lilacs. The warmer temperature also makes the grass begin to grow.
Additional applications of fertilizer will depend on the grasses that make up your lawn. Warm-season grasses such as zoysia, Bermuda, and centipede should receive fertilizer at six to eight-week intervals after the start of spring. Cool-season grasses like ryegrass, fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass should not be fertilized during the warm spring and summer months. You should fertilize them just after winter dormancy and once again at the beginning of fall.
How to pick the best lawn fertilizer?
There are many factors to consider when you’re looking for the best lawn fertilizer for your lawn. First of all, it should be a specially designed fertilizer, like, for example, fertilizers for fruit trees or fertilizers for roses, which will work best for lawn. You will find many fertilizers during your search, and no two are made the same, and they won’t all work for every type of grass, and some of them, like Scotts 44611A Food 10M, will not only fertilize but also provide your turf with added iron. The following are some things to take into consideration while you search for the perfect lawn fertilizer for your needs.
The best way to figure out how much area you need to cover with the fertilizer you choose is to measure the surface area of your lawn. For most standard square or rectangular lawns, this is as easy as measuring the length and width of your lawn. If you can’t physically measure, you’ll have to take your best-educated guess. A good general rule of thumb is that every eight steps the average person takes are approximately 10 square feet of space.
For lawns of different shapes, such as triangles and circles, you’ll have to employ different methods of measurement if you want an accurate estimation. For triangular lawns, figure out the length and width of the lawn and multiply them together. Then divide that sum by two, and that will give you the estimated surface area. For circles, you’ll want to find the center of the circle and walk to the edge. That will be the radius of your lawn, and you’ll multiply that by 3.14 to get your lawn’s estimated surface area.
Once you know the approximate surface area of your lawn, you can shop for the volume of fertilizer you’ll need to cover it.
Not only do you need to consider the type of grass that makes up your lawn, you should also consider the type of fertilizer you want to use. You can choose an organic or non-organic mix of fertilizer, and additionally, you can choose from a liquid fertilizer or a granule type.
Liquid fertilizer, like our top pick Advanced 16-4-8 Balanced NPK Natural Liquid Fertilizer, tends to work faster than granules. This type of fertilizer is absorbed more quickly into the roots of your turf, but as a result, it also tends to need more frequent applications. As a result, there is a higher chance of causing fertilizer burn to your lawn if you apply too much or too frequently.
Granule fertilizers take a longer time to absorb into your lawn. This means that it will take a longer time to improve the health of your grass and plants, but the granules do not need to be applied to your lawn as often as the liquid fertilizers. Additionally, there is a lesser chance of burning out your lawn.
Both liquid and granular fertilizers have their pros and cons, and both are equally as effective depending on your application preferences and grass types.
All fertilizers are a mix of nutrients that your lawn may be lacking, and they come in different compositions to properly and fully nourish your lawn. If you’re not sure what particular nutrients your lawn is lacking, you can purchase a home soil testing kit and most stores that have a lawn care section. All fertilizers are labeled with their macronutrient breakdown somewhere on the bag.
You should be looking for:
Nitrogen (N): This nutrient helps to make your lawn green and vibrant, and will help encourage leafy growth in plants.
Phosphorus (P): This nutrient helps to strengthen the roots of your plants and turf.
Potassium (K): This nutrient will help to enhance the overall growth of your plants and will keep them healthy and balanced.
The numbers attributed to these nutrients on the bag or bottle of fertilizer should always be in the N-P-K order. The numbers indicate the percentage of that nutrient per pound of fertilizer. Additionally, some fertilizer products will help you to calculate the total amount of N-P-K per 1,000 square feet of turf. This will help you determine how much fertilizer you need to purchase.
The weight of your fertilizer is really something you need to consider if you have to load it into a spreader or if you have to haul it around by hand. Additionally, the N-P-K percentages are based on a per-pound basis, and you should use about two pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of turf.
The price of fertilizer varies based on several factors, including the fertilizer type, release type, volume, and more. You can expect to pay a higher amount of money for a larger volume of fertilizer, though you can sometimes find options available in larger bulk packages for particularly large sections of turf. You’ll also see differences in pricing based on whether you choose a liquid or granular fertilizer, whether the formula is organic or synthetic, and whether it’s a controlled- or fast-releasing formula.
Fast-release vs. controlled-release nitrogen lawn fertilizers?
Nitrogen is an extremely important amino acid that is essential to the proper, healthy growth of your grass and plants, particularly because it directly affects the rate at which photosynthesis occurs. As a result, choosing the right type of nitrogen in your fertilizer is pertinent to the health of your turf.
Fast-Release Nitrogen Fertilizers make the nitrogen in the fertilizer immediately available to your lawn and plants. This encourages a rapid recovery from nutrient deficiencies, especially after winter. This will result in immediately lawn growth since the nitrogen will stimulate quick shoot growth and greening. Additionally, it is more affordable than slow-release formulas.
However, it can rapidly deteriorate from the soil with any kind of rainfall, and usually only lasts two to four weeks anyway with means you’ll be applying it more frequently. Over-application of these formulas can result in fertilizer burn on your lawn, or it can cause excessive amounts of growth that will eventually weaken the overall health of your grass or plants. This will leave them more vulnerable to diseases and insects.
Controlled- or Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilizers release a steady, consistent amount of nitrogen into your lawn. This prolongs the usefulness of each application, meaning you won’t have to spread this fertilizer type over your lawn as frequently as the fast-release type. The controlled formula is less likely to cause fertilizer burn damage to your lawn, and provides a steady rate of nitrogen, providing a more uniform growth for your grass and plants.
There are some drawbacks to using the controlled-release fertilizer type. It does not provide immediate growth or high rates of nitrogen, so it will not help with quick recovery from nutrient deficiencies. It also tends to be more expensive than fast-release formulas, though you will need to spread this type less often than the fast-release fertilizer so it may balance out in the long-term.
How and when to use lawn fertilizers?
Timing is extremely important to consider when trying to care for your lawn. As previously stated, the ideal time to begin fertilizing your lawn is when the temperature of the soil reaches and stays at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually happens in mid-April. Otherwise, you should consider your grass type and its growth rate when deciding on the fertilization you want to apply. You also want to consider the following factors:
Age and growth of your grass
The climate of the area you live in
The type of fertilizer you’ll be applying
Rain patterns and predictions
Whether you want an organic or non-organic fertilizer
Fast-release or controlled-release fertilizer
If your grass is new or young, you don’t want to over-fertilize it, as fertilizer can cause more harm than good if the new grass isn’t hearty enough to handle the treatment. You should pay attention to the weather patterns for the week that you want to take a day fertilizing your lawn. You should be looking for an opening of two to three days where there will be no chance of rain after spreading the fertilizer on your lawn. The rainfall could wash away your fertilizer and not only damage the environment in the run-off but will waste your time and money as a result.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using either an organic or inorganic fertilizer. Neither is better than the other, and both have their uses depending on what your needs are.
Organic fertilizers are better for the soil, as they’re made of animal and plant matter that can be easily broken down by microorganisms. This is not only beneficial to your lawn, but to the environment and soil life as well, as it is with Safer Brand Ringer Lawn Restore. Organic fertilizers also have a slower, more consistent release rate of their nutrients, so there’s no danger about burning out your turf.
Inorganic fertilizers are more readily available than their organic counterparts. The companies that manufacture these fertilizers can easily create a wide variety of blends to cater to specific nutrient needs for your soil and turf, particular seasons, and for specific plants. This gives you greater control over how your lawn will grow. The inorganic fertilizers are also more fast-acting and are less expensive than organic fertilizers.
The speed at which your fertilizer will begin to work is based on the type of fertilizer you choose to use. Fast-releasing fertilizers will work more quickly, in good growing conditions you can expect to see improvements to your turf within two to four days of application. Note that you will likely need to apply a quick-releasing formula more frequently than the controlled-release blends of fertilizer. The controlled-release formulas will gradually break down into available nutrients, and will take three to ten weeks to improve your lawn.
When you’re starting to grow a fresh lawn, you can fertilize it. But you’ll want specific fertilizer made to start a lawn, as it will provide more nutrient density per pound than any regular maintenance type of fertilizer. Your starter fertilizer should have additional nutrients besides just nitrogen reading on the bag – you’ll want it to include significant amounts of potassium and phosphorus as well. You’ll want to perform a soil test before you even sow your seeds, and then you’ll apply starter fertilizer before you sow your grass seeds. After this initial fertilizer application, you’ll wait four to eight weeks and apply a regular blend of fertilizer to your sown lawn.
A greener lawn makes a homeowner feel good and makes their lawn look appealing. The best way to get a better-looking lawn is to get the best lawn fertilizer you can find, such as those found on this guide.