Fertilizing is an excellent way to stimulate the growth of your lawn, thereby filling empty patches with lush-green grass.
Most landscaping professionals recommend fertilizing in early or mid-spring, immediately or shortly after the last cold snap.
By fertilizing your lawn, you’ll supplement it with beneficial compounds like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, all of which are essential for grass.
Unfortunately, though, it’s not uncommon for lawns to turn yellow after being fertilized. Even if you’re not an avid green thumb, you’re probably aware that lawns should be green and not yellow.
When you discover your lawn turning yellow, it usually indicates a problem. So, why did your lawn turn yellow after fertilizing it?
Fertilizer Burn Explained
If your lawn has turned yellow after a recent application of fertilizer, it’s likely suffering from a condition known as fertilizer burn.
Not to be confused with leaf scorch, fertilizer burn is characterized by extreme dehydration due to the presence of excessive amounts of nitrogen salts.
As previously mentioned, most fertilizers contain three main ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The nitrogen salts in fertilizer, however, can cause grass to dry out by inhibiting the absorption of water.
When you over-fertilize your lawn, you’ll expose it to an excessive amount of nitrogen salts. As these nitrogen salts accumulate on your lawn, they’ll soak up moisture – from both the soil as well as the grass itself. The end result is your lawn turning yellow and, if not properly remedied, dying.
How to Prevent Fertilizer Burn
To protect your lawn from fertilizer burn, you must use an appropriate amount of fertilizer.
While fertilizer requirements vary depending on the type of grass, climate and other conditions, a good rule of thumb is to use between 1 and 5 pounds for every 1,000 square feet of grass.
Using more than 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet of grass will only leave your lawn susceptible to fertilizer burn.
Another tip to protect against fertilizer burn is to choose a time-released fertilizer. Also known as controlled-release fertilizer, time-released fertilizer lives up to its namesake by releasing nutrients gradually rather than all at once.
If you discover your lawn is already suffering from fertilizer burn, don’t panic.
Assuming your lawn just recently turned yellow, you can usually restore it back to its healthy green appearance by supplying it with fresh water.
Watering your lawn will wash away some of the excess nitrogen salts while also hydrating your lawn with additional H2O.
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