Best Lawn Fertilizer: Reviews, Buying Guide, and FAQs

by Izaz Ahmad

Having a yard of green, lush grass is something everyone hopes to have when buying or building their dream house. However, there is more to these lush green grasses than meets the eyes.

Turning a bare yard filled with spare grass into one filled with dense, lush green grass can either require a ton of lawn care or not. How much help the yard needs depends greatly on the type of soil present in your yard. And as for the yards that do require lots of help, knowing how best to help the yard look beautiful and healthy can be a bit difficult.

Of course, there is a lot of advantage to having a beautiful yard. For one, it is what people first notice when approaching your house. That essentially implies that you do not want a yard that is dirty or just atheistically unpleasant.

Lawn fertilizers come in different kinds and at varying costs. This is a result of the many fertilizer brands available on the market.

This post would be in three sections. We would do a complete review of the best grass fertilizers on the market so you can have several incredible options to choose from. There will also be a buying guide so you can easily decide which is best for your lawn/yard.

Editor's Recommendation: Top Lawn Fertilizer

Top 10 Best Lawn Fertilizers

Top 10 Best Lawn Fertilizers
Top 10 Best Lawn Fertilizers

1. Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food - Link

Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food, 12.5 lb. - Lawn Fertilizer Feeds and Strengthens Grass to Protect Against Future Problems - Build Deep Roots - Apply to Any Grass Type - Covers 5,000 sq. ft.
Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food, 12.5 lb. - Lawn Fertilizer Feeds and Strengthens Grass to Protect Against Future Problems - Build Deep Roots - Apply to Any Grass Type - Covers 5,000 sq. ft.

There are little to no drawbacks with this All-in-One lawn fertilizer. Manufactured by Scotts, this fertilizer offers you a one-stop solution to strengthening the growth and health of the grass in your lawn. Not just that, it also comes with ingredients that help the grass fight against future problems. This is facilitated by the development of strong and deep roots.

One thing we particularly love about this fertilizer, which is also one of its biggest selling points, is that it works for all grass types.

The Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food comes in different sizes. The size you choose depends on how large the yard you want to use it on.

The main reason you want to buy this fertilizer is if you are just growing your lawn. This is why the brand markets it as a builder fertilizer.

Unlike most builder lawn fertilizers on the market, this one won't burn your lawn since it is not a fast-release fertilizer. It also comes with an exclusive All-in-one particle technology unique to the Scotts brand. This unique formula ensures even more greening of your lawn.

Pros

  • Guarantees growth of deep, strong roots which in turn improves the water and nutrient intake of the grasses in your lawn.
  • It does not burn

NOTE: Applying too much of the product can burn your lawn.

  • You can apply to any type of grass
  • Comes with an exclusive formula (All-in-one Particle Technology) that makes helps your lawn overcrowd the weed while also making the lawn even more green.
  • Greatly helps your lawn handle any weather stress
  • Easy to apply

Cons

  • For even better results, you might have to sift before spreading it on your lawn

2. Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for new grass - Link

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass, 15 lb. - Lawn Fertilizer for Newly Planted Grass, Also Great for Sod and Grass Plugs - Covers 5,000 sq. ft.
Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass, 15 lb. - Lawn Fertilizer for Newly Planted Grass, Also Great for Sod and Grass Plugs - Covers 5,000 sq. ft.

The Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for new grass is another builder fertilizer for newly planted lawns. It is especially great for new sods as well.

One thing we love about this fertilizer is that it has a pretty fast effect when applied. That coupled with the fertilizer's ability to improve seeing results, you can expect thick, fast-growing, and healthy grass in your lawn.

The N-P-K ratio of this fertilizer is 24 - 25 - 4. Thus, this fertilizer is very useful if your soil is deficient in Phosphorus and Nitrogen. That said, it is also safe to use for any type of grass.

One pack of this product is big enough to cover about 5,000 sq ft.

NOTE: While applying this fertilizer, it is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the product label. By doing this, you don't mistakenly burn your grass.

Pros

  • Vibrant and healthy grass blades are guaranteed.
  • Promotes fast and deep root development.
  • After applying this product, it would feed your lawn for about 4 to 6 weeks.
  • It will not burn your grass provided you follow instructions.
  • Great for improving the growth of sods or grass seeds.
  • Makes new grass grow 35% faster than unfed grass.

NOTE: Some of this product is not for sale in Pinellas Country, Florida.

Cons

  • For the quantity you get, this starter fertilizer does seem a little bit too expensive. However, there is no denying it does its work effectively and efficiently.

3. Milorganite Slow Release 0605 Garden Care Organic Fertilizer - Link

Milorganite 0605 Garden Care Organic Fertilizer, 5-Pound
Milorganite 0605 Garden Care Organic Fertilizer, 5-Pound

Milorganite is another incredibly strong brand in the fertilizer market. If you are looking for the best lawn organic fertilizer, you won't go wrong with this brand since that is what they are most known for.

This Milorganite Slow Release 0605 Garden Care Organic Fertilizer comes only in one size. It does not burn grass and the brand markets it as an all-purpose nitrogen fertilizer. Although it contains a significant percentage of nitrogen in its nutrient composition, it also contains 14 other essential growth elements. This ensures you get a vigorous, lush, and healthy lawn after using the product.

NOTE: The use of this product automatically compels you to water the grass as much as possible. Failure to do so can lead to rough, yellowish patches appearing on the blades of the grass.

This fertilizer contains about 4 percent of iron that boosts the green pigment of the blades of your lawn's grass. Being an organic fertilizer, it is safe to use at any time of the year.

One thing you might want to keep in mind while using this product is that it keeps rodents away from your flowers and flower bed. So not only does it guarantee a healthy turf, it manages to keep rabbits and other rodents away from your turf! Of course, the downside of this is you might not be able to use this product if you have a rabbit as a pet.

Pros

  • It is a powerful organic fertilizer that promotes the growth of thick and healthy grass
  • It does not burn plants and grass
  • Although it is not marketed as such, it manages to keep rodents away from your turf!
  • Apart from being a great lawn fertilizer, it is also a great organic fertilizer for gardening.
  • It can revive dying brown lawns and make them healthy again.

Cons

  • You have to frequently water your lawn after applying this fertilizer.
  • It is expensive

4. Scotts Turf Builder SummerGuard Lawn Food with Insect Control - Link

Scotts Turf Builder SummerGuard Lawn Food with Insect Control 13.35 lb, 5,000-sq ft
Scotts Turf Builder SummerGuard Lawn Food with Insect Control 13.35 lb, 5,000-sq ft

Scotts Turf Builder SummerGuard Lawn Food is a fertilizer specifically developed to help keep insects at bay from your plants or grass.

This 13.35 lb product can cover about 5,000 sq feet. It feeds your lawn with the necessary nutrients to grow quickly. it also protects your lawn against drought and heat. It does not burn regardless of how you use it.

If you are especially suffering from bugs, you will be glad to know this Scotts Turf Builder SummerGuard Lawn Fertilizer kills most bugs. The most common bugs it kills include ticks, armyworms, fleas among others.

NOTE: Although it does not burn grass, you have to consistently water your lawn. Failure to do so can result in the wilting of your lawn. Hence, it is advisable to only use this fertilizer during the rainy seasons.

Since it is a builder fertilizer, you can use it on newly planted lawns and it would help your grass crowd out the weed.

Pros

  • Protects your lawn from drought and heat especially during the summer period.
  • It kills a variety of common lawn bugs that otherwise disturbs the healthy growth of your lawn.
  • It can be used on newly planted lawns
  • It improves the water absorption ability of your lawn.
  • It does not burn grass provided you properly water the lawn.
  • A significant, noticeable improvement is guaranteed within 5 days of use.
  • The fertilizer can also control weed growth in your lawn.

Cons

  • It is expensive for the quantity you get.

5. Scotts Liquid Turf Builder Lawn Food fertilizer - Link

Scotts Liquid Turf Builder Lawn Food Fertilizer
Scotts Liquid Turf Builder Lawn Food Fertilizer

You don't always find lawn fertilizers that are in liquid form. If you are big on this, then the Scotts Liquid Turf Builder Lawn Food Fertilizer is a great option.

This fertilizer does two things at the same time: it feeds your lawn with the important nutrients for it to grow. Waters your lawn at the same time since you can mix it with the water you intend to water your lawn with.

It is compatible with any type of grass and actively improves the disease resistance of the lawn. While the brand markets it as a builder fertilizer, you should only use it on a lawn that is already growing; not freshly planted lawns.

By using as directed, you can achieve great results which include improved greening of grass, improve protection against future disease and problems, etc.

Pros

  • Suitable for use on any type of grass
  • Provides your lawn with nutrients while also watering it.
  • Improves the green pigment of growing grass.
  • Easy to use.

NOTE: Shake the product well before using it either as standalone or before mixing.

  • Helps protect the lawn against stress caused by human activity on the lawns, heat, and drought.

Cons

  • The spray and bottle are cheaply made and have a very terrible design. This means it soon stops working after a while.

6. Scotts 25006A 5M Turf Builder Weed Feed - Link

Scotts 25006A 5M Turf Builder Weed Feed, 5,000 sq. ft
Scotts 25006A 5M Turf Builder Weed Feed, 5,000 sq. ft

The Scotts 25006A 5M Turf Builder weed feed is one of the most powerful lawn fertilizers on the market.

The fertilizer is one of the most powerful weeds and feed products from Scotts and also one of the brand's most selling products.

One thing customers love about this product is that it comes with efficient Weedgrip Technology. This removes weed from your lawn; both the ones you can see and the ones you can't. It also clears out clover and dandelions, so you have a perfectly green turf of grass.

NOTE: If you are not comfortable with this product, the brand guarantees you money back.

Pros

  • Improves lawn thickness
  • Guarantees effective Clover and dandelion control
  • Has improved weedgrip technology which helps your grass crowd out the weed.

Cons

  • The spray might get clogged.
  • Watering the lawn after the application of this fertilizer is essential.

7. Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard, Fall Lawn Food - Link

Just from the name, one can already tell the optimal time to use this fertilizer. Yes, it is only effective for use during the winter and at the beginning of fall. It is a winterizer - a type of fertilizer that you can read more about in the buying guide section of this post.

NOTE: This does not however mean it won't produce useful results if used all year round.

The main components of this fertilizer make it a must-have if you are looking to build or develop the root system of your lawn. By having strong and deep roots, your lawn has increased water and nutrient absorption which in turn leads to healthy and vibrant grasses.

It comes in two sizes and can cover up to 5,000 square feet. To make it even better, you can apply fertilizer on any type of grass.

The optimal time to use this fertilizer is during the fall season so that your lawn can grow quickly during spring. Apart from giving grasses the essential nutrients to be healthy, it also increases the heat and drought resistance of the grass. This is facilitated by the efficient water absorption of the deep grassroots.

Pros

  • Best for people who notice a huge decline in the vibrancy of their lawn.
  • It supports the growth of grasses in the cool season.
  • It improves absorption of water and nutrients due to enhanced root development

Cons

  • You might experience dandelion and other types of weed infestation after applying this product.
  • Although it has a "Guaranteed not to damage your lawn" label, you should take proper caution while applying this fertilizer. Also, be sure to properly water the lawn after applying the fertilizer.

8. Scotts Green Max Lawn Food: 2-in-1 formula with Iron Supplements - Link

Scotts Green Max Lawn Food - Lawn Fertilizer Plus Iron Supplement Builds Thick, Green Lawns - Deep Greening in 3 Days - Covers 10,000 sq. ft.
Scotts Green Max Lawn Food - Lawn Fertilizer Plus Iron Supplement Builds Thick, Green Lawns - Deep Greening in 3 Days - Covers 10,000 sq. ft.

Scotts Green Max Lawn Food comes with a 2-in-1 formula with iron supplements that facilitates the growth of thick and green turf. Effectively, you can quickly notice significant changes in your lawn after applying it.

It comes in two sizes; with the largest sizes marketed as being big enough to cover a 10,000 square feet lawn. The Scotts Green Max Lawn Food does not stain grass so you don't have to worry about damaging your lush, green lawn.

It is a granular fertilizer which makes it very easy to use. It is completely absorbed into the soil but it is recommended to water the lawn after applying this fertilizer. It also does not stain any surface it touches around your lawn - which is usually a problem with granular fertilizers.

Pros

  • This fertilizer contains 5 percent iron for enhanced greening of the blades of grass.
  • It is in granule form but would be completely absorbed.
  • It supports all types of grass.
  • The Scotts Green Max Lawn Food is suitable for use all year round.

Cons

  • Though the brand markets that this fertilizer will cause significant improvements to the lawn which would be noticeable within 3 days, this isn't entirely true.

9. Extreme Grass Growth Lawn Booster - Link

Extreme Grass Growth Lawn Booster- Liquid Spray Concentrated Starter Fertilizer with Humic Acid- Any Grass Type- Simple Lawn Solutions (32 oz. w/ Sprayer)
Extreme Grass Growth Lawn Booster- Liquid Spray Concentrated Starter Fertilizer with Humic Acid- Any Grass Type- Simple Lawn Solutions (32 oz. w/ Sprayer)

There isn't a lot of products on the market that only contain Nitrogen and Phosphorus instead of the traditional N-P-K Solution. The implication of this is you can rely on this product to make your lawn grow fast and thick. Its composition also makes it non-toxic to pets.

If you are looking to use this fertilizer for seeding or sodding purposes, you won't be disappointed since it speeds up seed germination.

Pros

  • Green and thick grass guaranteed.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • It works as the name implies, considerably boosts the growth and development of your lawn.
  • Suitable for all types of grass Ryegrass, Centipede, Buffalo, Zoysia, Bluegrass, among others.
  • These fertilizers increase the lateral growth of grass thanks to its advanced humic acid formula.
  • Ideal for seeding or sodding of lawns

Cons

  • It does not contain potassium. Thus, if your lawn is deficient in potassium, this fertilizer would be highly inefficient.
  • The brand recommends buying and applying their lawn energizer 4 to 6 weeks after using this product on their lawn.

10. Jonathan Green & Sons Inc. Winter Fall Lawn Food - Link

Jonathan Green & Sons Inc (12414) Winter Survival Fall Fertilizer, 45 Pound
Jonathan Green & Sons Inc (12414) Winter Survival Fall Fertilizer, 45 Pound

Rounding up this review section, we have the Jonathan Green & Sons Inc. Winter, Fall Fertilizer. It comes in two types, both of which perform the same functions - which is to prepare your turf for the cold winter season.

It does this by promoting the growth of a deep root system so that the grasses in your lawn absorb and conserve every available nutrient and water.

Apart from that, it is also good if you are planning on seeding during the fall. It can cover about 15,000 square feet of lawn although it is a bit expensive.

Pros

  • Considerable improvement guaranteed.
  • Best for fall seeding
  • Important to keep the lawn green and healthy during and after winter.

Cons

  • The brand's delivery system can use a lot more work.
  • Expensive but the results are well worth every dollar you spend.

Lawn Fertilizer Buying Guide

Just like every human being loves different types of food and hates certain ones, plants and grass also require nutrients to grow. The nutrients ensure the plants and grass grow fast and healthy enough to look green and lush. However, if your grass or lawn does not get enough nutrients required to thrive, it can lead to wilting and browning of the lawn.

That said, choosing the right fertilizer for your lawn can be a bit of a hassle. This is made especially difficult because there are lots of different brands on the market, each with unique nutrient formula, advantages, and disadvantages.

After reading this guide, you should be able to identify the right fertilizer for you to select. You will also learn about the key ingredients in fertilizer and how it influences your lawn.

Identify the formula in the fertilizer

This is the most important thing you need to consider before getting a fertilizer for your lawn. Fertilizers typically contain three main nutrients as well as several other minor essential nutrients. Asides from that, fertilizers can either be organic and inorganic.

Organic fertilizers are made using organic or naturally available ingredients. For the most part, people prefer these types of fertilizer because they provide nutrients to your lawn without any great side effects.

Inorganic fertilizers are made using synthetic materials that are produced in a lab. They are considerably readily available and cheap. They are also long-lasting.

The major nutrients present in fertilizer are:

- Nitrogen (N)

- Phosphorus (P)

- Potassium (K)

They are often referred to as N-P-K.

NOTE: Nitrogen present in a fertilizer ensures the healthy growth of leaves in a plant. Phosphorus facilitates the growth of strong, vibrant roots. Lastly, potassium guarantees the overall healthy growth of all plants.

The deficiency of any of these nutrients in a plant can lead to stunted growth in the plant.

The level or percentage of any of the aforementioned elements in fertilizer is usually defined on the label of the bag or bottle it is contained. For instance, a fertilizer with a 20-8-8 label means it contains 20% of Nitrogen, 8% of Phosphorus, and 8% of Potassium.

Test your yard's soil to determine the type of nutrients present in it

This is the next step to take if you want to buy the right fertilizer for your lawn. The reason for this is because each fertilizer bottle or bag available for sale on the market has a different composition. To know which composition is best for your lawn, you need to know the nutrients present in your soil.

The easiest way to know what type of nutrients are present in the soil you have is by doing a soil test. Fortunately, there are portable soil testing kits on the market that you can buy and use without any technical knowledge. Next, collect a sample of your soul and email it to the address pre-printed in the envelope accompanying the soil kit. Then all you have to do is wait for a week or two at most for the results of your test.

NOTE: Using a home soil testing kit is not the only way you can carry out a soil test.

Another way is to contact the local office in your city so that they can conduct a soil test on your yard. Essentially, what they would do is collect samples from your yards and then mail you a report of the nutrient composition of the soil they collected.

Irrespective of the method you take to determine the composition of the soil present in your yard, the important thing is that you get to know which nutrient is deficient in the soil.

If the report shows your soil is lacking in Potassium, for instance, all you have to do is find fertilizers with a high potassium content. The same goes for any nutrient the soil might be lacking.

You might even get recommendations from the testing office on the type of fertilizer that would serve you well and help your soil become better.

NOTE: It would also do you a world of good if you can ask the local extension office to test your soil and also check if the grass type you are planting is even ideal for the soil. At times, the grass type you are planting might not be optimal for your soil even after the addition of fertilizer.

Type of fertilizer

Fertilizers have different compositions which is what makes them unique. The uniqueness of each fertilizer also determines its benefits as well as disadvantages when you do use it. To help you understand better, we would discuss all the different types of fertilizers on the market:

Fast Release Fertilizers

Fast release fertilizers are very popular on the market. As the name implies, they quickly release nutrients to your soil as soon as you apply them. They are best for people looking for quick changes to their lawn from stunted to healthy growth.

Fast release fertilizers are also very cheap. The main reason for this is because they do not last long. As a result, you have to continually reapply for the fertilizer to be effective. As a result, you might end up spending more money on fertilizers than you would if you buy or use a slow-release fertilizer for example.

This type of fertilizer isn't without its drawbacks. The major disadvantage with using this type of fertilizer is that there is a higher risk of the fertilizer burning your lawn. This happens because they are very packed with nutrients and when released too fast, too many nutrients can choke some plants or grasses.

Slow-Release Fertilizers

Slow-release fertilizers are compatible with most plants and grass. This means, there is less chance of you wasting money on a fertilizer that won't provide optimal nutrients for your lawn.

This type of fertilizer release nutrients in a controlled manner so that they provide consistent nutrients to plants and grass over a long period. As a result of this, there is less risk of burning plants and grass since the nutrient release is uniform and even.

As good as their benefits are, slow-release fertilizers are not without their disadvantages. The first drawback that comes to mind is that it takes time for you to see any noticeable change in your plant and grass. They are also more expensive than fast-release fertilizers since they last longer which means you don't frequently have to use them since they last very long.

Weed and Feed fertilizers

Weed and Feed fertilizers carry out two functions at the same time. They are very unique and not readily available. They are fertilizers that also contain chemicals for basic weed control.

NOTE: There are different types of Weed and Feed fertilizers. Each of them controls a specific type of weed. Hence, ensure you read the label on the product you want to buy before making a purchase. That way, you know if it is best for your lawn or not.

While selecting a weed and feed fertilizer, be sure to avoid using it on grass seeds or newly laid lawns. This is because Weed and Feed fertilizers contain herbicides that prevent the growth of such seeds.

Winterizers

Fertilizers are not often used in the winter because plants are usually dormant and grow very little during the cold season. That said, there is some time of fertilizer that can help plants and grasses prepare and grow better during winter. They are referred to as Winterizer fertilizer.

Essentially, a wintertizer increases the number of nutrients available to your lawn before winter starts. This helps keep your lawn healthy and disease-resistant when the weather becomes cold.

NOTE: Although winterizer fertilizers are applied in late fall, they do not contribute much to the lawn's growth in the fall.

Also, be sure to identify whether your lawn has cool-season grass or warm-season grass. Depending on the type you have, the fertilizer you select might have to be different.

Lawn Starters

Lawn starter fertilizers are a type of fast-release fertilizers since they release their nutrients very quickly and do not have a long lifespan. They have a very high phosphorus composition which helps induce the growth of strong healthy roots of the growing grass. They are best used on grass seeds or sods.

Cost

Lastly, you have to consider how much it costs to buy the fertilizer. Not just for you to know what to budget before buying the fertilizer for the first time. But also, you need to know how much it would cost over time to continuously use the fertilizer for your lawn.

NOTE: Fast or Quick release fertilizers that quickly show their effects on plants or grasses though initially cheap tend to cost a lot after a prolonged period. The reverse is the case for slow-release fertilizers.

FAQs

When is the optimal time to apply a lawn fertilizer?

This is a very interesting question and also very important.

When you apply fertilizer to your lawn depends on the type of grass that makes up your lawn. Generally, you have to apply fertilizer multiple times to your lawn throughout the year. This way, you are guaranteed a healthy lawn.

For a more precise evaluation, you need to apply fertilizers about 3 to 4 times a year if your lawn has warm-season grasses. Such grasses include centipede, Bermuda, etc. You should try to fertilize the lawn every 6/8 weeks from the day you bought the fertilizer.

For grasses like fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, etc. only fertilize them before winter and at the start of fall. NOTE: You might want to research the grass to know how often you need to apply fertilizer.


Which is better: Organic Fertilizer or Inorganic fertilizer?

Both fertilizers provide almost the same results since they both improve the overall growth of any plant. However, there are some differences between the two that you might want to know.

The first difference that comes to mind is that natural or organic fertilizers contain a low percentage of N-P-K in their composition. The implication of this is that you have to use more natural or organic fertilizer before you can achieve the same results a small portion of synthetic fertilizers guarantees.

Another important thing worth mentioning is that Synthetic fertilizers are very efficient. Thus, you quickly see their effects once you apply them.

Synthetic fertilizers are also more likely to burn your plants and lawns.


How much fertilizer do I need to use?

As with the optimal time for fertilizer application, how much fertilizer you apply depends on the type of grass as well as the manufacturer's directions.

The most important thing is that you should avoid overfertilizing your lawn. Over-fertilizing your lawn can choke the grass which can lead to burning - yellow, rough patches on grass blades. It can also damage the grass' root system.

Conclusion

Everyone wants a lush lawn on their property but not everyone has what it takes to achieve one. One of the most effective ways to grow a green lush lawn is by using fertilizers. However, the use of fertilizers depends on different things such as the type of soil, the type of grass you want to grow, etc.

With this guide, you should confidently be able to identify which fertilizer is most appropriate for the type of lawn you want to grow.

Lastly, ensure you take proper safety measures when applying your lawn fertilizer. As good as fertilizers are, they are quite dangerous to pets and humans and very unsafe to eat. So, although some fertilizers might seem a lot appealing to your pets (dogs especially) and might even make them unusually active, try to keep the fertilizer away from them.

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