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Which fertilizer for grass is best?

For most homeowners, there is a great sense of pride that comes with having manicured, green grass. However, cultivating a healthy lawn requires time and effort, which can be a year-round job. Plus, the world of fertilizers for grass is often confusing and frustrating for those who are new to taking care of a lawn. 

If you are looking for a grass fertilizer that’s perfect for just starting a new lawn, the Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass is a great choice. If you have been taking care of your lawn for a while now and want something to give the lawn that extra pop of healthy green color, the Milorganite Slow Release Nitrogen Fertilizer is the top choice.

What to know before you buy lawn fertilizer

What kind of grass you have

In order to choose the right fertilizer and give your lawn the best care possible, first, you must find out what kind of grass you have and if it is cool-season or warm-season grass. Examples of cool- and warm-season grass include Bermuda, a warm-season grass, and Fescue, a cool-season grass.

When to fertilize

Depending on where you live, it is generally best to fertilize every season except winter. For areas in the north, above what is called the “transition zone,” fertilizing should only be done in the spring and summer. However, in the south, beneath the transition zone, it can additionally be done in the fall. 

What to do before fertilizing

Prior to spreading any fertilizer, carry out a soil test. This is as simple as sticking a screwdriver or flathead down into the soil. If it goes in smoothly, there is moisture in the soil. In contrast, if it is tough and you have to force it down into the soil, it is a dry soil sign. 

Additionally, in the spring, prior to fertilizing, doing core aeration and then using a starter fertilizer that is high in phosphorus is key to prepping your lawn.

Importance of mowing

It is imperative to know that spreading fertilizer is not the only thing you need to do to attain a healthy green lawn. In fact, once you get there, maintaining it is just as much work. Mowing the lawn around two to three times a week is what will give you great results along with fertilizing.

What to look for in a quality lawn fertilizer


Finding the right nutrients is crucial in your pursuit of a quality lawn fertilizer. The levels of nitrogen must be not too high but not too low either. Phosphorus, potassium, iron and microbes are also very important when feeding your lawn. 

Health and safety

The next thing to look for in a quality lawn fertilizer is that it is a product safe and healthy for you to put into the soil of your lawn from an environmental standpoint as well as bearing social responsibility in regards to people and pets.

Trusted brand

Most often, quality lawn fertilizers are produced by companies who have executed all the tests necessary and follow restrictions or guidelines. Make sure that you are buying from a brand you have researched and believe you can trust.

How much you can expect to spend on fertilizer

Depending on the brand and size bag you buy, prices may range from $16-$60 per bag. For example, a 12.5-pound bag of Scotts Turf Builder is in the $15-$16 range, but a 32-pound bag of Milorganite is in the range of $30 and up.

Fertilizer for grass FAQ

What’s the difference between granular and liquid fertilizer? 

A. The liquid fertilizer is instantly absorbed into the soil, whereas the granular one takes time to release. It also takes more rain or watering to see the granular release.

How much fertilizer do I need to buy?

A. For most brands, a 32-pound bag covers around 2,500 square feet. Take into consideration how large your lawn is, and only purchase one bag at a time when trying a brand out for the first time.

How do I apply fertilizer?

Scotts Mini Broadcast Spreader

A. Using a spreader is the easiest and quickest way to fertilize your lawn. The Scotts Mini Broadcast Spreader is an affordable product to start with if you are new to lawn care. 

What’s the best fertilizer to buy?

Top fertilizer

Milorganite Slow Release Nitrogen Fertilizer

Milorganite Slow Release Nitrogen Fertilizer

What you need to know: Milorganite is an organic fertilizer that is safe for people and pets to walk on, healthy for the environment and sustainable.

What you’ll love: Unlike fertilizers that are not organic, Milorganite is gentle and does not burn the lawn.

What you should consider: Slow release dissolves over time, which means it could take longer depending on how much rain you have or if you are watering. Because it is a biosolid fertilizer from human waste treatment plants, the smell is fairly strong.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Top fertilizer for the money 

Sunniland Super Iron Plus

Sunniland Super Iron Plus

What you need to know: This all-season formula is 16.5 percent iron, which offers the nutrients needed to give your lawn a lush green color.

What you’ll love: The fast-release granules provide for quick feeding the lawn.

What you should consider: Although this will help add a healthy green color to the lawn, in order to maintain, you must mow often.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Worth checking out

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass

Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass

What you need to know: This product is great for just starting out with a new lawn because it is a trusted brand and has a high amount of phosphorus, which will help the root system.

What you’ll love: With a 24-25-4 ratio, the nutrients are given to lawns in early growth.

What you should consider: It is important to be conservative when spreading this fertilizer because if too much is applied, it is likely you may burn your lawn.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


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Mary Hicks writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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