How to apply granular fertilizer

Hi, this is Skip with Father and Son Pest and Law Solutions. Today, we're going to talk about how to properly apply fertilizer to your lawn. I get asked the question many times, "How do I apply fertilizer to my lawn? What setting do I put my spreader on? How many pounds of fertilizer should I use? How big a bag do I get?" All these different questions about how to put out fertilizer. So that's what I'm going to talk about.

First, what you have to do is you need to determine how many pounds of each nutrient you want to put on your yard. The best way to determine that is by first getting a soil sample done. You can refer to our video about doing soil samples on how to do that. Once you've determined how many pounds of each nutrient you want to put on your lawn, determine how many square feet are in the area that you're going to be putting out that fertilizer.

In my demonstration today, I have staked out about 3,000 square feet of my lawn. This right here. Now, right now, it's looking pretty good, however, it's not as dense as I want it to be. The reason it's not as dense as I want it to be is because this spring it had a problem with disease, so it was really sparse. The disease caused it to decline some. In addition to that, it's growing right next to this natural area here, and so there's a lot of root intrusion into the soil where the grass is growing from these trees and other shrubs, so that's taking up some of the nutrients that the grass would otherwise use. So that's causing the grass not to be as dense as it should be. I'm wanting to add a little bit of fertilizer to it, just to kind of give it a little more nutrients and to increase the density in the lawn.

What I've determined is in this 3,000 square foot area, I want to use one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet applied over this 3,000 square foot area. So I want to use a total of three pounds of nitrogen. Now, how do I determine three pounds of nitrogen? How do I determine how much fertilizer I need to get three pounds of nitrogen? Let's take a look.

Okay, so this is a 40-bag and it's 6% nitrogen. So 6% of 40 pounds means there's 2.4 pounds of nitrogen in this bag, of active nitrogen. Now, I'm going to be applying this over 3,000 square feet, so I'm going to get a little less than one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet. I'm going to be putting this 50-pound bag over 3,000 square feet, and there's 2.4 pounds of nitrogen in it, so I'm going to be putting 2.4 pounds spread over 3,000 square feet. It's going to be a little less than a pound per thousand square feet. That's what we're going to do.

Okay, so what I'm going to do to get an even distribution of the fertilizer over this area that I'm going to be putting it out is first, I'm going to go one direction back and forth, and then I'm going to switch directions by 90 degrees and I'm going to go the other direction back and forth, so that when I get done, I'll have a checkerboard pattern of fertilizer applied over the yard. Now, why would I want to do that? Well, it's really easy to not overlap properly if you just go one direction, and you can have gaps in between the areas where the fertilizer is put out. If that happens, once the grass starts taking up the fertilizer, you'll have green stripes going down your lawn, so it'll be kind of green, light green, dark green, light green. In order to avoid that potential striping problem, I'm going to go two directions, and that way I know I'm going to get really good coverage.

Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to set my fertilizer spreader on just a low setting. I'm going to go down to maybe about a quarter of the way open so that the fertilizer doesn't come out too quickly, so that I'll have time to go down and back and down and back, and then go the other way as well. I'm just going to keep doing that, going down and back and going the opposite direction, and if I still have fertilizer left, I'm just going to keep repeating that process. By doing that, I'm going to get an even distribution of the fertilizer over the area that I want to fertilize so I don't get too much in one area and too little in the other. So here we go.

Okay, that's one direction. Now I'm going to switch directions and go 90 degrees from where I was going before. Okay, so I've covered the entire area in one direction and then in the other. I still have fertilizer left, so what I'm going to do, I'm going to go repeat that process, but I'm going to open up my fertilizer adjustment a little bit more so the fertilizer comes out faster since I've already covered this again. So it was set down here. Now I'm opening up. It was set at about a quarter. Now, I'm opening it up to about a half to three-quarters, because I can see how fast the fertilizer is coming out. So now I'm going to do it again since I covered it all once, and I'm going to go over it again and get the rest of the fertilizer out.

Okay. I'm stopping because I notice the fertilizer is actually coming out faster than I wanted, and it looks like it'll probably run out before I get to go over it at least a full, once, a full time, so I'm going to cut it back. You can do this. You can adjust it as you go. If you see that it's coming out too fast or too slow, you can stop and adjust it and then move forward again. Okay. That's about right. I can see the fertilizer falling down in the hopper, and it looks like I'm going to be able to go over this at least once, if not twice before the fertilizer's all put out.

Okay. Again, now I'm going to turn 90 degrees and go the other direction. Okay. After going over it twice each direction, I have just a little bit of fertilizer left in the hopper, so I'm just going to go back and start going long ways again until it's all gone. Okay. There's just probably a few tablespoons worth of fertilizer in there. We'll just go ahead and dump that out. And now we have applied 2.4 pounds of nitrogen over this 3,000 square feet, and this is going to help my lawn become more dense and a little more green. That's how you put out fertilizer.