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Best Lawn Fertilizer for Homeowners

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Your lawn has specific fertilizer requirements, depending on both what soil type you have, and the particular type of turfgrass you are growing.

Fertilizers contain essential nutrients that will help your lawn to survive. This buyers guide will discuss different types of fertilizers, what nutrients they contain, how to test your soil, soil pH, and how to read the fertilizer numbers on packages.

Hopefully, once you read our lawn fertilizer reviews, you’ll be able to pick out the best product for your grass.

Your soil can supply some of the nutrients that your grass needs, but not all of them. An actively growing lawn requires a good bit of energy. Fertilizers can help your lawn by controlling and reducing weeds, replacing nutrients that have been lost to grass clipping removal and leaching (a loss of plant nutrients washed away from soil by rainwater).

It can also promote new root and leaf growth, and help your lawn to recover from any pest damage or foot traffic.

​Top Lawn Fertilizer Picks

Bestseller No. 1
Advanced 16-4-8 Balanced NPK - Lawn Food Natural Liquid Fertilizer - Spring & Summer Concentrated Spray - Any Grass Type - Simple Lawn Solutions (32...
687 Reviews
Advanced 16-4-8 Balanced NPK - Lawn Food Natural Liquid Fertilizer - Spring & Summer Concentrated Spray - Any Grass Type - Simple Lawn Solutions (32...
  • Complete NPK Lawn Food: 16-4-8 is the perfect blend of key macronutrients. This lawn liquid food...
  • Contains High Quality Natural & Organic Feed Grade Ingredients: Nourish your lawn to health with...
  • Easy To Use: Designed to be easily applied. This complete Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash formula...
  • All Grass types: Including Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, Buffalo, Centipede, Florida Palmetto,...
Bestseller No. 2
PGF Complete All in One Complete Lawn Fertilizer 16-4-8 with Humic DG (18 lb.)
133 Reviews
PGF Complete All in One Complete Lawn Fertilizer 16-4-8 with Humic DG (18 lb.)
  • Blended fine fertilizer particle includes Humates which may increase turf quality and reduced...
  • Contains MUtech coated slow release nitrogen to provide uniform growth with extended nitrogen...
  • DG particles do not rely on a physical coating to release nutrients. Coated fertilizers (used by our...
  • Small particle size gives you twice the number of particles per square foot. DG particle disperse...
SaleBestseller No. 3
Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed & Feed 3
59 Reviews
Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed & Feed 3
  • Improved formula-up to 2x more powerful dandelion and Clover control
  • Clears out dandelions and clover-satisfaction
  • Weed grip technology grips the weeds you see-and the ones you don't
  • Feeds to build strong, deep roots for a better lawn next spring
SaleBestseller No. 4
Safer Brand 9334 Lawn Restore Fertilizer - 25 lb
49 Reviews
Safer Brand 9334 Lawn Restore Fertilizer - 25 lb
  • Revitalizes lawn to a thick turf by strengthening root systems
  • Lawns will green up within 3 to 5 days
  • Promotes a robust root system for a healthier lawn
  • Provides effective year-round care by helping plants withstand heat, cold and drought stresses
SaleBestseller No. 5
Scotts Turf Builder Thick'R Lawn Sun and Shade, 12 lb. - 3-in-1 Solution for Thin Lawns - Combination Seed, Fertilizer and Soil Improver for a...
265 Reviews
Scotts Turf Builder Thick'R Lawn Sun and Shade, 12 lb. - 3-in-1 Solution for Thin Lawns - Combination Seed, Fertilizer and Soil Improver for a...
  • 3-In-1 solution for thin lawns, including seed, fertilizer and soil improver
  • Seed to fill gaps in your current lawn
  • Fertilizer for thicker, greener turf
  • Soil improver for enhanced root development
Bestseller No. 6
Scotts 44611A Food-10 M | Green Max Lawn Food, 10M
294 Reviews
Scotts 44611A Food-10 M | Green Max Lawn Food, 10M
  • Feeds for deep greening in just 3 days for greener grass
  • Dual-action, 2-in-1 formula feeds and supplements with iron
  • Fertilizer not to stain when used as directed
  • Apply to any grass type in the spring, summer and fall months

*Note, your needs may vary depending on grass type, climate, soil conditions and overall grass condition.

Different Types of Fertilizer

Fertilizers are divided into two main categories – granular fertilizers and liquid fertilizers.

Granular fertilizers are applied dry, from a shake container or with the help of a mechanical spreader, and then watered. There are two main types of granular fertilizer – slow release and quick release.

Slow-release fertilizer contains WIN (Water Insoluble Nitrogen) which is available in polymer-coated or sulfur-coated varieties and can last for 8-12 weeks. Quick-release fertilizer contains WSN (Water Soluble Nitrogen), can last 3-4 weeks and will provide nitrogen immediately to your lawn.

Liquid fertilizers need to be applied every 2-3 weeks, are quick-acting, and are absorbed through roots or leaves. Although usually used for container plants, there are also some varieties that can be used on lawns.

What Nutrients Does Your Lawn Need?

Your lawn needs both macronutrients (chemicals that are required in large quantities for plant development and growth) and micronutrients (chemicals that are needed in trace amounts for plant growth and development).

Primary macronutrients are Nitrogen (essential for leaf growth and vivid green color), Phosphorus (essential for root growth), and Potassium (also known as Potash), which is important for resistance to disease and drought, and for root development. Lawns also need carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, magnesium, calcium, and sulfur, but these are usually present in the soil or air.

Micronutrients are only needed in small amounts and include chlorine, boron, copper, cobalt, manganese, iron, molybdenum, zinc, and nickel.

Testing Your Soil

In order to know which nutrients are required by your lawn, a soil test is essential. You can either buy a home test from the garden center (which aren’t extremely accurate) or send in a soil sample to the closest cooperative extension office.

We recommend this one on Amazon: ​Covery 3 in 1 Soil Tester Moisture Meter

The results will tell you exactly what chemicals to add to your soil. They will also tell you if your soil is alkaline, acidic, or neutral. The pH of your soil is a measure of soil alkalinity (sweetness) or soil acidity (sourness). A pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A reading below 7 is acidic, and a reading above 7 is alkaline.

Alkaline soils (a pH over 7) are primarily “sweet” clay soils with a high pH level that usually contain an overabundance of calcium, magnesium, and sodium. Alkaline soils can be improved by adding ground rock sulfur to the soil to increase acidity, as well as a fertilizer that’s high in phosphorus.

Acidic soil (a pH below 7) could have too much manganese, iron, or aluminum, which might tie up phosphorus and make your soil too acidic for lawn growth. The easiest way to raise an acidic soil level is to add some pulverized limestone to your soil.

The chemicals in limestone that can neutralize your acidic soil are calcium and magnesium carbonate. Be careful not to add too much lime, or you might end up with zinc, manganese, and iron deficiencies, or even a nasty overgrowth of bacteria. If you have a neutral soil (a pH of 7), congratulations! You can choose any fertilizer that strikes your fancy.

How to Read and Calculate Fertilizer Labels

The majority of fertilizer bags show 3 bold numbers on their labels, separated by dashes.

  • The first number will be the total percentage of N (Nitrogen) coming from ammonium, nitrate, and/or urea.
  • The second number tells you what quantity of P (Phosphate) is available.
  • The third number, K (Potash) shows you how much soluble potash is contained.

So if your number is 20-10-20, that means 20 percent Nitrogen, 10 percent Phosphate, and 20 percent Potash.

Your completed soil test, combined with your local lawn care specialist, can determine from these numbers the exact fertilizer product you will need.

Also, your lawn care specialist can advise you on the best fertilizer, depending on what type of turfgrass you are growing.


Author: Matt Hagens

Matt Hagens

Hi, I’m Matt the owner of Yard Care Life. I love to be outside working on my lawn, planning my next project. I created this website to help people like you find the best products for yard care and great advice. Learn more about me and find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

6 thoughts on “Best Lawn Fertilizer for Homeowners”

  1. I would like your recommendation on what I should use on a football field that shows Nitrogen depleted, Phosphorus sufficient, and Potash adequate/surplus.

  2. I do not have a lot of weeds. Last year I popped/pulled most of my weeds. I have thin areas of grass and from a distance my lawn looks great, but up close it is thin. I fertilized and raked everything out last fall. I just did my first grass cut and rake for the spring. What do you recommend for product to use to take care of the thinning problem? The house in on the NH coastal region of the country.
    Thank you,
    Paul

    • Try a few apps of ringer lawn restore and see what happens. If you have quality soil, few weeds and good grass coming up, patience will usually work best :)….and water.

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