What Is Fertilizer Burn And How To Reverse It

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Fertilizers are formulated primarily with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, three nutrients that work together to help keep your grass green, thick and resistant to drought, fungus, foot traffic and other threats potential. However, too much fertilizer can turn the grass yellow or brown, making it look like it has been burned.

This condition is called fertilizer burn and it is one of the most common mistakes home gardeners make. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce or minimize fertilizer burn and bring your lawn back green.

What is fertilizer combustion?

So what is fertilizer burn? Fertilizer burn is a lawn care and gardening mistake that can cause burns or burns to plants or grasses. This can happen when a lawn or plants are over-fertilized, as well as when fertilizer is applied to damp plants or grass. “Burning” is caused by the salts in the fertilizer drawing too much moisture from the grass or plant.

RELATED: Solved! Is the fertilizer going bad?

What does fertilizer combustion look like?

Fertilizer burn is an apt term – grass and plants look like they’ve been burned by fire when touched by fertilizer burn. Rather than a healthy green color, these plants will have brown or yellow streaks or spots. Along with fertilizer burn, you may also notice patches of dead grass.

fertilizer burn

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How to Fix Fertilizer Burn

Depending on the level of damage done to your grass, you may be able to reverse the effects of fertilizer burn and help your lawn grow back lush and green. The important thing to remember when fixing fertilizer burn is that you need to reduce the amount of fertilizer left in the soil. Once the amount of fertilizer present in the soil decreases, it will stop causing further damage. Follow the steps below to learn how to reverse fertilizer burn.

  1. Pick up as much excess fertilizer as possible. If there is still granular fertilizer left on your lawn, start by using a small shovel to pick up as much of the excess as possible.
  2. Rinse the floor with water. Then use a garden hose or sprinkler to rinse the soil. Try to apply about 1 inch of water each day for 4-7 days in a row. This will help dissolve the salts in the fertilizer and remove any excess fertilizer buildup in the soil.
  3. Reseed the lawn if necessary. After rinsing the soil, give the lawn a few weeks to see if it recovers on its own. If the grass still doesn’t look healthy, reseed the affected areas with new grass seed.

How to Prevent Fertilizer Burn

Learning how to prevent fertilizer burn in the first place is the best way to keep your lawn healthy. Use these suggestions to ensure your lawn is not negatively affected by fertilizer.

  • Use a slow release fertilizer. Slow-release fertilizers are a good option to use with plants or lawns that require more regular fertilizing. They will gradually release salts into the soil, which will make over-fertilization less likely.
  • Do not apply fertilizer to wet grass. Fertilizing when the soil or plants are wet can increase the risk of fertilizer burn. Only apply fertilizer when the grass and soil are dry.
  • Water your lawn well after applying granular fertilizers. If you apply a granular fertilizer to your lawn, be sure to water the lawn thoroughly after each application. This will help remove any fertilizer that is on the grass blades or plant leaves and will help ensure that the fertilizer spreads evenly throughout the soil.
  • Fertilize with compost or organic fertilizer. Compost or organic fertilizers are less likely to cause fertilizer burn. Plus, they will always help keep your plants and grass healthy.
  • Apply the correct amount of fertilizer. Research the appropriate amount of fertilizer for the size of your lawn and the types of plants and grass you have. Follow the experts’ instructions and avoid over-fertilizing your garden.
  • Do not apply fertilizer during a drought. During periods without rain, the fertilizer can remain too concentrated in your soil. Wait until the drought is over to fertilize grass and plants, as rainwater can help dilute the concentration of fertilizer in the soil.
fertilizer burn

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Final Thoughts

Fertilizer burn doesn’t mean your weed is ruined for good. The tips and solutions shared above can help save your lawn, restore it to a healthier state, and prevent fertilizer burn from happening again. When working with fertilizers, remember that you should never let the water run off. The chemicals in fertilizers can threaten animals and other plants in the area.

RELATED: The Best Lawn Fertilizers

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