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How to Use Lawn Fertilizer

With a spreader, some grass fertilizer, and 15 minutes, you can be on your way to a thicker, greener lawn.

Fertilizing a lawn is very simple. In fact, a typical subdivision lawn will take less than 20 minutes. Here's how to do it.

1. Water your lawn.

A few days before you feed your lawn, give it a good watering. That will help ensure your soil is ready to accept lawn fertilizer.

2. Pick the best spreader for your lawn. 

Spreaders fall into two main categories: broadcast and drop. Scroll down to learn more about spreaders and the best ways to use them in your lawn. Adjust spreader settings. Each fertilizer product has a unique spreader setting for correct coverage. Check the bag to make sure you're selecting the proper setting for your individual spreader.

3. Apply grass fertilizer around the perimeter. 

Feeding around the perimeter first will allow you to fertilize the rest of the lawn without worrying about missing any of the edges. Using the EdgeGuard® feature on a Scotts® broadcast spreader helps you avoid getting grass food in garden beds, on sidewalks, or on driveways.

4. Fill in the middle.

Similar to a mowing pattern, feed your lawn by walking back and forth in straight lines while slightly overlapping with each pass.

5. Properly handle remaining product.

Once you've finished fertilizing your lawn, return any unused product to the bag and store it for future uses. Be sure to keep it in a cool, dry place away from pets and children.

Why Fertilize?

Just like we need more nutrients than water can provide to survive, so does your lawn. Feeding your lawn 4 times a year with a product like Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food helps it stay green and grow thick. Maintaining a thick, lush lawn helps prevent weed seeds from sprouting and moving in. Check out our article "The Benefits of Fertilizing Your Lawn" to learn more.

Choosing the Right Lawn Fertilizer Product

All lawns are different, and selecting the right fertilizer product to meet your lawn's needs may seem overwhelming at first. Don't worry. Scotts has the right product to meet all of your lawn fertilizer needs. All Scotts® Turf Builder® granular fertilizer products feed for up to 2 months, and each application should be spaced 6 to 8 weeks apart.

Prevent Crabgrass Early On

You can prevent crabgrass while feeding your lawn in the spring with Scotts® Turf Builder® Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food. Then, 8 weeks later, kill broadleaf weeds like dandelion and clover while fertilizing your grass with Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed3. Or, do all 3 at the same time with Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action.

Knock Out 3 Chores at Once

If you live in the Southeast, feed your lawn, kill broadleaf weeds like dollarweed, and prevent fire ants for up to 6 months with Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Triple Action. Follow up 8 weeks later with Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Lawn Food, which helps protect that precious green space from heat and drought.

If you have a problem with lawn pests like ants, spiders, fleas, and ticks, try Scotts® Turf Builder® SummerGuard® Lawn Food with Insect Control, which feeds the lawn and controls listed insects.

Revive Your Lawn From Summer Stress

In the fall, help your lawn recover from the summer and prepare for the winter by applying Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard® Fall Lawn Food. Or, if you also have problems with weeds, use Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard® Fall Weed & Feed3 instead.

If you live in the South and have a St. Augustine, centipede, or zoysia grass lawn, fall is a great time to make a second application of Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Triple Action. 

Another option: Leave the choosing to us. When you sign up for our personalized, subscription-based Scotts® Lawn Care Program, we'll do the thinking and planning for you. Just answer a few simple questions about your grass and yard, then we'll deliver the perfect lawn fertilizers to your doorstep, right when you need them. What could be easier?

In-Depth Lawn Feeding Guide

Mulch Your Grass Clippings

If you're tired of bagging grass while you mow, we've got good news. To help your lawn stay greener year-round, you can leave the grass clippings on your lawn. When grass clippings break down, they provide your lawn with beneficial nutrients. While you don't need to buy a new mower blade, it doesn't hurt to install a mulching blade so that the grass is cut into smaller pieces. Learn more about recycling grass clippings in our article "What to Do With Grass Clippings."

Use the Right Spreader

When applying lawn fertilizers, always use a lawn spreader. Never spread product by hand! A broadcast spreader with a side-shield feature like the EdgeGuard® feature is great for most lawns. This makes application along the lawn's perimeter easy by shutting off half the spreader flow, so product is only applied on the lawn and not on non-lawn areas like the driveway, sidewalk, or landscaping. A drop spreader is another option for small spaces because the application area is much narrower. Learn more about which spreader is right your yardby reading our article "Which Spreader Is Best for Your Yard?"

Fill the spreader hopper with your lawn fertilizer, then set the spreader to the recommended setting listed on the product package. If the product package does not provide a spreader setting, it is not intended for lawn use.

Apply Grass Fertilizer Correctly

Now you're ready to apply. Feeding the lawn is as simple as mowing it, and as easy as walking at your normal steady pace. Just follow these guidelines for easy application and even coverage.

If you're using a broadcast spreader, feed the entire perimeter of your lawn first. Engage the side-shield, which blocks off one side of the spreader to keep the product on the lawn and out of gardening beds and off driveways and sidewalks. Next, fill in the middle by turning off the side-shield feature and walking back and forth in straight lines. To get even coverage, overlap slightly on each pass by moving over 2 steps before you begin the pass.

When using a drop spreader, start by applying 2 header strips at opposite ends of the lawn to create a turning area. Next, fill in the rest of the lawn by applying the fertilizer back and forth in straight lines perpendicular to your header strips. To ensure you get even coverage, be sure to overlap the wheel tracks by about half a foot (there are arrow marks on the spreader hopper to help you overlap properly).

After you've finished feeding your lawn, return any unused product to the bag and store it for future use.