How to Fertilize Your Lawn the Easy Way!

By Allyn Paul, filed under Lawn Tips.

The year is well underway, and you have got to get out and feed that lawn! Granular fertilizer is your best choice as a do-it-yourselfer.  But some of you may be a little concerned that if you put down the pellets incorrectly, you could cause your lawn to have uneven greening (dark and light lines that look horrible) or worse, you could burn it.

Here is a fool proof method for fertilizing your lawn using a broadcast spreader.

You first need to decide which kind of fertilizer you are going to use. I prefer a 20-20-10 blend for the first and second applications of the year to help promote the main elements that support turf’s photosynthesis. This rate of fertilizer is also not overly-packed with nitrogen which can ruin your soil. There are some great organic products available as well, but keep in mind that natural fertilizers do not promote fast greening in the spring as they require heat to release nutrients. Organics are great, but bring a little slower results. I recommend you use an organic like Milorganite, but be patient!!!!

broadcast spreaders
Next, you ned to match up the product label and instructions with the type of spreader you have
. (more on this below) I recommend you spend a little money on a spreader with metal parts (metal frame) and large, rubber tires that will stand up to bumps in the lawn, as well as maintain better calibration. Cheap spreaders like the one in the picture here operate on cheap springs that don’t give much consistency in application. However, there is no need to go overboard and buy a $400 professional spreader either, unless you plan to help your whole neighborhood! 

Big Box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s carry a good selection of spreaders for around $60 that will work well for the average homeowner.

Finally, you need to consider your walking speed.The faster your move, the faster the spreader disk spins and the product is spread out wider and less concentrated. If you walk slower, you put down more fert in a smaller pattern. When applying fertilizer, I recommend you “walk with a purpose,” which means not a stroll, but not a power walk either … just in between.

Now you’re ready for the actual fertilizer application itself.Due to the factors above, the directions on the bag of fert won’t do you much good. So I have come up with a way that you can apply the fertilizer that will work well every time.

spreader setting
It involves setting your spreader at a fairly low setting (setting that puts out very little material).
If you have 15 settings on your spreader, you should dial in at #3. In other words, the setting should be at 1/5 the maximum. (see picture)

This low setting will allow for a double pass on the lawn, thus ensuring we get even coverage across the entire lawn and avoid dark and light stripes. See diagrams below. Your comments and questions are encouraged.








These Free Lawn Tips are brought to you by Life and Lawns, lawn tips and advice from a green industry pro. Tell a friend!



Wondering "what to" put on your lawn and "when to" put it down? Get my $7 Step By Step ebook and learn it! I am really proud of the results my readers are getting using this easy to follow lawn treatment schedule.

Lawn Care Step By Step Buy Now

Lawn Care Step

You can start at ANY time during the year... I wrote the book so it is easy to get into lawn care no matter what time it is... Just start NOW! Lawn Care, Step By Step

14 Responses to “How to Fertilize Your Lawn the Easy Way!”

  1. Angie Hurst Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Hey, guess what I’m doing tomorrow morning? What great timing! We had someone doing our lawn care until last year when I started doing the Scott’s thing. I decided to try it myself when the neighbor’s yard who used Scott’s looked better than mine that I was paying to be done. I’m going to try using your directions this year and hopefully I’ll have a beautiful lawn to report back with! Thanks!

  2. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Best of luck to you! Before and after pics would be great if you’d like to share.

  3. Worldwide Spreaders » Blog Archive » Quick scan of the net - spreader Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    [...] http://lifeandlawns.com/2008/04/06/the-fool-proof-way-to-fertilize-your-lawn/Next, you ned to match up the product label and instructions with the type of spreader you have. (more on this below) I recommend you spend a little money on a spreader with metal parts (metal frame) and large, rubber tires that will … [...]

  4. KevaJ Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    I keep looking at that lawn of the main picture on lifeandlawns.com. Any idea what kind of grass that is? The caption says “DIY Lawn Tips Advice, Turf is Life”. Is that turf grass? I’m thinking of changing out my lawn at some point. The builder put down Bermuda in the front and the previous owner did the sides and back w/ seeds of the fescue nature. I am a single mother and I don’t mind yard work but I’d like something that I can maintain that stays green a good part of the year. I’m ready to throw out some grass looking turf…anyway, any ideas?

  5. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Hi Keva,
    That’s my own lawn and it is a mix of Turf Type Tall Fescue and Perennial Rye.
    Depending where you live, it may do allright for you.
    If you are in FLA (where Bermuda grass normally is planted) then this type of fescue will not work…it can’t handle the heat.

    Turf is just another term for lawn grass.

    I think St. Augustine is a good turf-grass for lawns in hotter temps. You may also try Zoysia which makes a very dense turf with little problems.

  6. Adding Iron to Your Lawn | Life and Lawns Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    [...] have written article on easy fertilizing techniques that will show you how to apply iron to your lawn evenly. This is important as uneven coverage will [...]

  7. The numbers on the bag of fertilizer | Life and Lawns Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    [...] final consideration is in knowing how much fertilizer to apply to your lawn (the ‘rate’). Most products can be applied at a 1-pound per thousand rate, which means that [...]

  8. Ken Miles Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Is there any way of marking where I have just been with my spreader, so I will not miss a strip of lawn, and have stripes? Last time, I thought I was spreading the fertilizer evenly, but when the grass grew, it looked like a striped candy cane!! Help!

  9. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Hi Ken,
    If you use the technique listed here, you won’t have that issue.
    Make sure you are using a broadcast spreader and NOT a drop spreader.
    Use a very low setting (very little product spits out)… re-read this article!
    Overlap back to the spreader’s wheel marks from the previous pass.
    Try it and see… you should be fine.

  10. Don Rae Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    I have an outside dinner in our back yard in a few days. I sprayed the lawn for crabgrass the herbicide is really knocking to for a loop.

    It about 92 degrees now and I would like to put a light application of iron (FE) on the lawn. Is it too hot to do this now. The lawn looks nice but I would like a bit more of a dark color. I have pop up irrigation.

  11. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    I would not be concerned with the heat but rather the iron not completely dissolving and getting on people’s shoes and staining them.
    If the party is 2 weeks away, go ahead. Any closer and I’d be careful.
    You could use Scott’s Step 3 with iron in it and that would be safer.

  12. Anne Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    My husband insists that doing it by hand is just as well as a spreader. Can you reply on this method?
    Thank You

  13. Allyn Paul Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Hi Anne,
    well, I just don’t know how you could fert a lawn by hand. How can you control the amount that is going to each area? Also, if your lawn has any size to it, then it must take an hour or more!
    I really have never heard of anyone fertilizing a lawn “by hand.”
    Let me know what he says will ya?

  14. Jeff Says:
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1

    Great article Al. I just finished resodding my backyard and I love your technique for fertilizing. I’m going to put down some 20-20-10 using your techinque. The yard looks great now, and now I know what I need to do to keep it that way.


Leave a Reply