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Lawn Fertilization: A Healthy Lawn is a Happy Lawn

A healthy lawn is an important component of your home landscape. Not only do lawns increase the value of a property, they also reduce soil erosion, filter stormwater runoff, cool the air, and reduce glare and noise. A healthy lawn effectively filters and traps sediment and pollutants that could otherwise contaminate surface waters and groundwater.

Management of home lawns often is not well understood by residents, and this can have adverse effects on turf health.  Loss of turf health can render it less able to filter stormwater runoff and reduce soil erosion, which can lead to  increased nonpoint source pollution.

Best Management Practices


  1. Fertilize Appropriately– Proper fertilization consists of selecting the right type of fertilizer and applying it at the right time and in the right amount for maximum plant uptake and benefit.
  2. Selecting a Fertilizer– Select only a fertilizer that states that the fertilizer is for use on urban turf.  Do not use a fertilizer meant for flower or vegetable gardens on lawns.
  3. Fertilizer Timing– It is important not to fertilize when grasses are not growing, as this can increase the possibility of nutrients leaching through the soil and running off.
  4. Fertilizer Application Rate– No matter what species of grass you have or where you live in the state, you should apply no more than 1lb of nitrogen for every 1000 square feet of lawn each time you apply fertilizer.

Soil Test

It is important to test your soil to determine phosphorus and other nutrient levels.  Check with your county Extension Office for information on how to submit soil samples

Fertilizer Spills

If you spill fertilizer on the driveway or sidewalk, sweep it up and put it back in the bag. Always sweep up spilled fertilizer rather than rinsing it away, even when the spill is on the lawn. Spilled fertilizer easily finds its way down storm drains or into the ground from there into the water supply.


Watering Fertilizer In

After applying fertilizer, you will need to irrigate long enough to move the granules off of the leaf blades and into the soil, where they will be taken up for use by the plant.

Fertilizing Newly Planted Turf

Wait at least 30 to 60 days after planting to apply nitrogen fertilizer to turfgrass.

Weather and Fertilization

Do not fertilization if the National Weather Service has issued a flood, tropical storm, or hurricane watch or warning, or if heavy rains (greater than 2 inches) are likely within 24 hours.


  1. Mow at the highest recommended height for your grass species.
  2. Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at one time.
  3. Leave grass clippings on the lawn, they return a small amount of nutrients and organic matter back to the lawn.
  4. Keep your mower blades sharp.  Dull mowers tear the leaf blades.
  5. Do not mow your lawn when it is wet.


  1. Irrigate as infrequently as you can without having your grass start to go into excess drought stress.
  2. In most parts of Florida, irrigate to apply ½-3/4 inch of water.
  3. If you are in an area with very sandy soil, you may need to apply the higher amount of water.
  4. In north or central Florida, irrigate every two to three weeks during the winter months if rainfall does not occur.

Get more details about the best homeowner management practices for the home lawn by clicking here.

Chris Vann- Extension Agent- Agriculture/4-H


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  1. Pingback: Florida-Friendly Landscaping Practices - UF/IFAS Extension Lafayette County