Please help ! Burn-out due to Over-Fertilizing

Please help ! Burn-out due to Over-Fertilizing

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CeeDee – posted 19 June 2001 06:41

Hi All,

This is my first time here and I was hoping to get some solid advice on resolving my problem of fertilizer burn-out.

I am a new home owner and last weekend was the first time I decided to try my hand at fertilizing the lawn myself. Unfortunately, I goofed up big time . I have found that a number of areas have turned brown since I did the fertilizing, and neither have I been watering the lawn too much.

The questions I have are ;

1. Do I have to water the lawn regularly after fertilizing, and would that have prevented the fertilizer burn-out ?

2. Is there anything I can do about reviving the (brown) burnt patches, and what would that be ?

3. I have also dug out a patch of grass from root level (or below) when the lawn mower turned over. How can I resolve this problem ? Would I have to patch it with topsoil + grass seed ?



seed – posted 08 July 2001 08:14

Dear CeeDee, first, my apologies because no one got back to you promptly regarding an obviously difficult problem.

Depending on what kind of grass you have (some are more susceptible to fertilizer burn), my rule is not to fertilize when the grass is wet or the ground is dry.

Fertilizers differ in their burning ability. Some such as ammonium sulfate are quite “hot,” that is they tend to suck up water from anything they get into contact with, human skin, leaves, the air. And if the turf leaf is wet, the fertilizer granules will stick to the leaves and burn them severely.

But assuming that the leaves are not wet, in my exprerience in Florida, even the hottest fertilizer put out at the right rate does not burn lawn grass. Although not the preferred practice, such a fertilizer application can be watered in a day or two later, or watered in with rain water. But, a light watering (less than half an inch) is always desirable just to knock the material off the leaves. And if your turf is already under drought stress (dry soil) you’ve got a worsened problem, though not as bad as when hot fertilizer is applied to wet leaves.

In the worst case if you are fertilizing a sensitive turf like bentgrass, or a closely mown golf green, you would either expect some burn, or not want to face the consequences, so a light watering in would be strongly advised. Under the worst case, fertilizer has been used to control weeds and remove undesirable turfgrases.

Probably of more consequence for the lawn than watering is the possibility overapplication. Let’s assume that it wasn’t your watering, but that you just put out too much fertilizer. If so, then depending on what kind of grass you have, it will probably recover over time. But the more rain and water that is applied to the burned areas, the sooner that they will be able to grow again. Other than time and water, I don’t know of anything else to do.

I didn’t understand the part about the lawn mower turning over. If you mean that it flipped upside down, that’s hard to picture, but sounds very unsafe to the operator. If you mean “turned over” as in “the engine turned over” then perhaps you were mowing too closely?


Ram – posted 04 October 2002 17:52


I also did the same mistake that you did… Over Fertilize the lawn and due to this the grass is getting dry (Florida). I would like to know if your problem got rectified and if so , how… Pl let me know,so I can do the same to get my greener lawn back..


MJK – posted 29 June 2003 16:36

Help,I have the same problem, but I live in Vermont. After laying a beautiful sod lawn last fall I decided to fertilize yesterday. Conditions were dry and sunny. The rain had ended last week and the lawn was getting a bit brown. Now it is all brown!Besides time and water is there anything else that one can do?Am I doomed or will it come back.Somebody please help me

Dchall_San_Antonio – posted 30 June 2003 00:09

If you are interested in changing to organic fertilizer, you will be rid of this concern forever. I call it ‘ending the hassle.’ Organic fertilizers cannot burn because they have to be metabolized by soil microbes before any fertilizer is released to the plants. You can water it or not and still nothing can burn the grass. You literally cannot make a mistake. You can apply it any day of the year; rain or shine; morning, noon, or night.

My favorite organic fertilizer is corn meal; second favorite is alfalfa pellets. Both products are sold at feed stores in bulk for about $5.00 to $6.00 for a 50 pound bag.

The application rate is 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet for nearly all organic fertilizers. If you accidently dump an entire bag on one spot, just sweep it up and spread it around. The only way you could hurt the grass is if you smothered it by covering the grass blades.

Agricultural corn meal is basically the same as food grade corn meal except for the way it has been stored over its life. Either product works as well as the other. The only difference is price.

Corn gluten meal is a different product with a different price. It happens to make a great fertilizer but the high cost sort of self-regulates its use for that.

ah – posted 20 July 2005 12:56

I need help pleas!

I live in NY and have just spent a fortune putting down Kentucky Blue Grass Sod a couple of months ago. The grass looked beautiful so I decided to take on fertilizing it myself to maintain it. I applied Scotts Super Turf Builder with Summer Guard this past weekend. I followed the directions, but yikes, it was really hard to control the amount to apply. As a result I now have brown patches everywhere. I’m so stressed over this and I don’t know if it’ll turn green again? Please help me.

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