We all know that adding a little fertilizer to your lawn now and then is great for promoting growth and a healthy lawn. Lawns which have not been fertilized are not usually as green and luxurious as their fertilized counterparts. But, did you know that you can over-fertilize your lawn? And, that over-fertilization can actually do damage? Let’s look at the damage which it can cause and how to avoid an over-fertilized lawn.

What Does an Over-fertilized Lawn Look Like?

Over-fertilizing your lawn is actually one of the quickest ways to kill your lawn. If you add too much fertilizer to your lawn, then that fertilizer can build up and release too much salt into your lawn.

A buildup in salt causes the grass and soil to dry out. This can result in grass which turns yellow or brown and is commonly known as fertilizer burn.

Fertilizer burn is more common than you think and, thankfully, is an easy problem to solve and prevent.

Obviously, preventing fertilizer burn is easy to do. If there is too much fertilizer on the grass, it is going to cause the burn.

What do you do about this? You use less fertilizer. It is as simple as that. When you are applying fertilizer to your grass, follow the instructions and use the recommended dose.

You should also be using the correct fertilization schedule, not adding fertilizer more than three times a year. If you add the correct amount of fertilizer and add it at the correct times, instructing your clients to do the same, then you are never going to suffer from fertilizer burn.

If you face a lawn with fertilizer burn, then there is no way to prevent it; we have to move onto the cure.

The first thing to do is decide whether the grass is going to recover or if you need to replace the lawn.

This depends a lot on the type of fertilizer which was applied, the amount of moisture in the soil, and the health of the grass. A yellow grass has a great chance of recovery while a brown grass may need to be replaced.

The quicker you can get to the grass, the more chance it has of recovering.

How to Treat an Over-fertilized Lawn

If you (or a client) have used too much fertilizer, then there are some steps which you can take to promote the grass to return to health.


The first, and most important, is to remove as much of the fertilizer as you can. Perhaps the fertilizer was spilled, and you can still see it on the ground. If this is the case, you can use a broom or a dry-vac to pick it up and remove it. Try to get as much as you can before it is absorbed into the soil.


The second thing to do is to add a lot of water to your lawn. You want to remove as much of the fertilizer as possible. You also want to remove as much of the salt which has gotten into the soil.​

Bring out your sprinklers or garden hose. You want to add as much water as you can until the water does not soak into the soil anymore. Repeat this every day for a week. The water will get into the soil and remove the salts from around the roots.


After removing the fertilizer and watering, there is not much that you can do other than wait and see what happens. It may take a while for the grass to return to normal, so if it is near the end of the season, you may have to wait until the start of the next spring before you will know of the grass is alive again.

If you are doing this in the spring or the start of summer, then you will have enough time to see if it has worked.

If the grass does not return, then you will have to reseed the area.

What Can I Do to Prevent Fertilizer Burn?

It can be all too easy to over-fertilize a lawn but, if you follow our simple steps, you can avoid it altogether.

Correct dose

We already mentioned using the correct dosage, and we are mentioning it again due to its importance in lawn care.

When you buy your fertilizer, read and follow the instructions, using the correct dose every time.

Different fertilizers come in different strengths so always make sure to check each label, no matter how familiar you are with fertilizers.

If you are ever in doubt, you can go organic

Organic fertilizers are made from compostable ingredients. 

These components are broken down by the microbes in the soil and do not release the same materials which other fertilizers do. Organic fertilizers have less chance of burning your lawn, but they are often more expensive than regular fertilizers. That's unless you make your own compost.

Feed weak grass less fertilizer

If the lawn you are caring for has robust and healthy grass, feel free to use the full dose as recommended by the fertilizer manufacturer.

If the lawn is in poor condition, then you may have to coax it back to life gently. Adding too much fertilizer can actually be detrimental, and the grass may not be able to absorb it all. Feed a weak lawn lightly until you have given it the full dose over a few days or weeks.

Prevention is always the best cure.

If you follow our steps and educate your clients, you are never going to have to worry about fertilizer burn. If you do run into it, then you can see how easy it is to treat. Brown grass may take a while to come back to life if it comes back at all, but you can be assured that you will be able to give your client a green lawn, either by healing the grass or reseeding it.