How Much Should You Fertilize? | Sward Yard
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How Much Should You Fertilize?

apply the right amount of nitrogen to your lawn

How Much Fertilizer Should You Apply to Your Lawn?


Apply the right amount of nutrients to keep your yard healthy and beautiful all season long. 

Not all turgrass varieties have the same nutritional needs and not every yard owner has the same lawn goals when it comes to maintenance, performance, or budget. The table below outlines roughly how much nitrogen an established cool-season lawn should receive over the growing season (spring through the end of fall). 

The lower end will produce a lower maintenance yard but you will see gaps in the performance of the turf especially in high stress conditions like heat and drought. The higher end number will have improved turf performance and make the grass more capable of fighting off disease and pests, but it will require a few more applications over the season and a bit more mowing. Lawns across Idaho and other states with similar climates are predominately bluegrass with a mixture of ryegrass and maybe some fescue as well.

Keep in mind, these guidelines are for nitrogen only and don't include the other macro, secondary, and micro nutrients your grass needs to survive.

Don't over fertilize

Too much of a good thing applies to plants just the same as it applies to humans (except for fun, everyone knows there ain't no such thing as too much fun). Applying too much fertilizer can cause soil issues and 'burn' your lawn. Over-application can also lead to runoff of the nutrients which is a waste of your money and potentially bad for the environment. So for your own sake and the health of your yard, stay within these guidelines and you'll have success.


N/1,000 sq. ft.


3-6 lbs

Kentucky Bluegrass

3-6 lbs

Tall Fescue

2-4 lbs


2-3 lbs

Fine Fescue

1-3 lbs

Not All Nitrogen Fertilizers Are the Same

Looking at only the numbers on the bag is not enough since not all forms of nitrogen are the same. You may think you are saving money by applying a cheap 21-0-0 ammonium sulfate fertilizer, but that is likely 100% quick-release nitrogen. That means you will get a quick green-up but not much of a lasting effect. On the other side of the coin, if you feed with a high-quality slow-release nitrogen fertilizer you get a longer response and more bang for your buck as your yard utilizes more of the nutrients you put down.

What About Other Nutrients?

If you know much about fertilizer, or have read our Lawn Fertilizer Basics, you know that nitrogen isn't the only nutrient your lawn needs. If you are using high-quality fertilizers in a lawn program you should have a good mix of other essential macro, secondary, and micro-nutrients delivered to your yard when they are needed. For instance, iron helps with photosynthesis and can provide a boost of green without triggering excessive growth which is ideal in spring and summer. Potassium aids the grass plant in building hardiness and disease resistance which can stave off threats from summer heat and give the grass a boost before going dormant in winter.

What about weeds?

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