Does Your Yard Have a Landscaping Theme?

What Happens When You Put Too Much Fertilizer on Your Lawn, and How Can You Make Sure You're Using the Right Amount?

by Dan Mckinney

If you want healthy grass growth on your lawn, it's typically necessary to apply fertilizer to it. Natural soil often doesn't contain enough minerals to sustain a vibrant, green lawn. When you fertilize your lawn, however, it's important to use the right amount. Using too much fertilizer in an attempt to provide your lawn with an abundance of nutrients will damage your lawn, and can even lead to large portions of it dying off. To learn how fertilizer can damage your lawn and how you can prevent the damage from happening, read on.

What Happens When You Put Too Much Fertilizer on Your Lawn?

The main risk of putting too much fertilizer on your lawn is that you'll dehydrate your grass. Roots get water through the process of osmosis. The hairs on the roots are semi-permeable membranes, so water can flow through them. However, water moves in the direction of lower dissolved solids to higher ones. In this case, dissolved solids refer to the minerals that you feed to your lawn by putting fertilizer on it.

Normally, the large amount of nutrients contained in the root hairs means that water will flow into them since the number of dissolved solids in the surrounding soil is lower. When you put too much fertilizer on your lawn, the number of dissolved solids in the soil goes up until it's greater than the amount present in the root hairs. This causes osmosis to work in the wrong direction, with water leaving the root hairs and flowing into the surrounding soil. Unfortunately, this is capable of rapidly killing grass as it's dehydrated quickly.

The other main problem presented by putting too much fertilizer on your lawn is that you'll cause fertilizer burns. Lawn fertilizer contains a substantial amount of nitrogen since this causes grass to grow quickly. When too much nitrogen is present in the soil, however, then the grass grows too fast. You'll notice yellow fertilizer burns on the tips of the grass when this happens. All of the nitrogen in the soil is making the grass grow quicker than it's able to produce chlorophyll, which is what makes grass green and also allows it to create nutrients from sunlight. Fertilizer burns stress out your lawn, and can eventually lead to large portions of your lawn dying off.

How Can You Make Sure Your Lawn Has the Right Amount of Fertilizer?

The first step is to get a soil test from a laboratory to see what nutrients already exist in your soil. Based on what's contained in the soil, you'll get a recommendation from the lab that tells you which type of fertilizer to use in order to support healthy grass growth without accidentally damaging it. When applying the recommended fertilizer, make sure that you follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding how much to use based on the size of your lawn in square feet. You should also use a lawn spreader to apply your fertilizer instead of applying it by hand since a lawn spreader will evenly distribute the fertilizer — applying it by hand can lead to areas receiving too much or too little fertilizer for healthy lawn growth.

If you don't want to risk accidentally putting too much fertilizer on your lawn or don't want to go through the trouble of performing a soil test, hire a lawn fertilizing service to keep your lawn healthy for you. Hiring a professional lawn care team will ensure that exactly the right amount of fertilizer is used on your lawn, supporting healthy growth while making sure that it's not subject to dehydration by using more fertilizer than is necessary. The consequences of accidentally using too much fertilizer can result in large portions of your lawn dying from fertilizer burns and dehydration, so it's a good idea to hire a professional lawn fertilizing service if you want to avoid the risk of unsightly dead patches on your lawn.