Liquid Lawn Fertilizer Guide

What’s the difference between liquid and granular lawn fertilizer? Find out here.

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In addition to mowing, trimming and edging, feeding your lawn is also an important seasonal task. But, when it comes to choosing lawn fertilizer, many homeowners get confused by the options. So, what’s the difference between liquid and granular lawn fertilizer? Keep reading!

Start With a Soil Test

Begin with a soil test. Feeding your lawn nutrients it doesn’t need is wasteful. A soil test analyzes the pH of your soil as well as key nutrients. You can take a soil sample to your local extension office for analysis or you can purchase a DIY soil test kit. Once you have the results of the test, you will know which nutrients you need to apply and you can research the best way to apply them.

Liquid Fertilizer Application Rates & Ratios

Again, the best fertilizer for your lawn is one that contains the nutrients your soil needs. Fertilizers are sold by a numbering system that represents a ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). So, if the label says 5-5-5, you know it has equal parts of those three nutrients. If it is 16-4-8, it has 16 parts of nitrogen, 4 parts potassium, and 8 parts potassium. A typical maintenance ratio for a lawn is 3-1-2. One of the advantages of using a liquid lawn fertilizer is that you can easily mix in any other nutrients your soil needs.

How Long Will Liquid Fertilizer Last?

Many experts suggest fertilizing your lawn four times a year. But fertilizing more than four times a year is overkill. In fact, most homeowners could get by with two every year. You can cut back on the amount of grass fertilizer you need by knowing when to fertilize lawn based on time of year.

If you apply too much lawn fertilizer, especially in sandy soils, a good share of it will leach through the soil and make its way into our precious groundwater, lakes, streams and wetlands. Lawn grasses only need a certain amount of food. More isn’t always better.

When to Should I Spray Fertilizer?

Here’s when to fertilize lawn: If your lawn fertilizer schedule is once per year, apply it around Labor Day. That’s when your lawn is the hungriest and when it will respond best to the nutrients it receives. Fertilizing at this time will help replenish food reserves after a long, stressful year of growing and before the harshness of winter sets in.

If your lawn fertilizer schedule is twice per year, apply the second application about the middle of October. This acts like a “second helping” of much-needed food going into winter. A third application can be added in mid to late spring and can be combined with your crabgrass preventer. A fourth application, if you feel the need, can be added mid-summer. Watch the weather when applying midsummer fertilizers. Fertilizing during hot, humid weather can harm your lawn. An exception would be using an organic fertilizer. They are much more lawn friendly during the dog days of summer.

In the spring, apply just enough fertilizer to help green up your lawn. About half the normal amount will do. Even without fertilizer, your lawn naturally grows quickly as soon as temperatures become consistently higher. Have you ever noticed that grass grows fastest in the late spring and early summer? Why promote even more growth at this time by fertilizing?

Liquid Weed Killer for Lawns

If your lawn is plagued by weeds, you can choose a weed and feed formula, but if your weeds are not extensive, go with separate fertilizer first. Feeding your soil increases the health of your grass. And, healthy grass will eventually choke out the majority of the weeds.

Top liquid weed killers include: Ortho Weed B Gone, Fertilome Weed Free Zone, Round Up Pro, Compare-N-Save and Spectracide.

Top natural and organic weed killers are: Green Gobbler, Natural Armor and Doctor Kirchner.

Liquid vs Granular Fertilizer

That depends. Granular fertilizers may be what you choose if you have a large piece of property because it is less expensive. But if you need immediate results, you will want a liquid.

Liquid Fertilizer Pros

Immediately Bioavailable Simply because it’s in liquid form, liquid lawn fertilizer provides nutrients to the soil instantly, so the benefits can be seen in just a few days.

Even Application Thoroughly mixed and applied with a wide-sweep sprayer nozzle, liquid fertilizer gives a more even application than what you get with a granular fertilizer spreader.

More Versatile Whether you mix concentrate in a gallon sprayer (the less expensive option), or purchase a pre-mixed bottle that attaches to your garden hose, liquid fertilizer is more versatile than granular because you can apply it to the ground or the foliage. Foliage applications allow for a faster uptake when a quick correction mid-season is needed.

Can Blend With Other Products Liquid lawn fertilizers can easily be mixed to get the right amount of the nutrients your lawn needs.

What is the Best Organic Fertilizer for Grass

Organic liquid fertilizers include: Simple Lawn Solutions, Dr. Earth and Simple Grow Solutions.

Liquid Fertilizer Cons

Needs Multiple Applications Liquid fertilizer, while more immediate, needs to be reapplied more frequently. Granular fertilizer slowly releases nutrients into the soil when it rains or you water your lawn, so you don’t have to apply it as often.

More Expensive No two ways about it, liquid fertilizer costs more than granular. If you have a large yard, that extra expense adds up.

Results Short-Lived According to Michigan State University’s Extension Service, the results of water-soluble fast-release fertilizers provide instant satisfaction that is short-lived. Yes, they quickly deliver a deep colored, luxurious lawn, but the energy put into the top growth actually reduces root growth. They suggest for greater long-term results, use a slow-release fertilizer.

Learn how to fertilize your lawn and avoid the top four mistakes most homeowners make.

If you choose to use granular fertilizer, this post will show you how to use a fertilizer and seed spreader.

And, if your lawn needs more help than fertilizer can give, read here for how to repair a damaged lawn.

Buy a DIY soil test kit now on Amazon.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Carol J. Alexander
Carol J. Alexander is a Virginia writer specializing in sustainable/green living, home remodeling, and lifestyle topics. Since 2007, her work has appeared in Grit, AcreageLife, Hobby Farms, and over 70 other national, regional, and local print publications, as well as online. Carol helps clients position themselves as an authority in the marketplace by providing easy-to-understand, educational content that attracts readers, answers their questions, and meets their needs.