How To Fix an Over-Fertilized Lawn - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

How To Fix an Over-Fertilized Lawn

Having an immaculate lawn is a difficult task, but it is very important to all gardeners. After all, everyone desires a garden and lawn that will make heads turn. However, what if you are a bit too generous with your fertilizer, and suddenly see your precious lawn struggling and the grass turning yellow or brown? It could mean only one thing – you over-fertilized your lawn! Luckily, if you recognize the symptoms quickly enough and act on time, you can save your lawn and have beautiful, green, lush grass growing again.

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

  • A rake or a broom
  • Water
  • Lawn Grass Seeds

You don’t need a lot to follow this tutorial. You can choose between a rake or a broom for the removal of granular fertilizer. While a rake may seem like the better option due to its long handle and large area of impact, I would personally prefer to use the broom. It is much gentler on the grass and can collect the granules better than a rake!

Fixing an Over-Fertilized Lawn Step-By-Step

Step 1: Assess The Damage

assessing the lawn
Image credits: Macleay Grass Man via Creative Commons

It is completely natural for panic to settle in once you see your beloved lawn struggle. However, it is important to assess the damage before you act. Look at the grassroots all over the lawn so that you can get a clear picture of the damage. If you see that the roots are doing mostly well, you shouldn’t do much else but water your lawn generously. This will help because the water will drain the excess fertilizer. However, if the roots seem dead, you will have to replant your lawn.

Step 2: Get Rid of the Surface Fertilizer

raking the yard
Image credits: katerha via Creative Commons

Surface fertilizer is frequently used for lawns. So if you opted for this type of fertilizer, it is only a matter of grabbing a rake or a broom and sweeping off as much as you can. I prefer using a broom because it is much easier and far gentler. Make sure that you remove as much of the fertilizer as possible. You should never water your lawn before you do this, as this will result in more salts entering the soil, which will amplify the damage to your already struggling grass.

Step 3: Water Your Lawn Generously

watering the lawn
Image credits: KSRE Photo via Creative Commons

Adding water to your over-fertilized lawn is a good way to dilute and drain the extra fertilizer. Combined with early recognition of the problem, this may be all you would need to do to save your lawn. As far as how much you should water your lawn, the answer is simple – as much as the soil can take in. Make sure you water the entire lawn, even the unaffected areas – this will help the salts go throughout the whole yard.

Pro Tip: The first day you realize your lawn is over-fertilized, it is crucial to give it a generous watering. For this to be effective, you should continue watering for the next seven days, adding an inch each day. The best time to water your lawn is in the morning because this minimizes the chance of fungal issues.

Step 4: Check on Your Roots Again

checking the lawn
Image credits: gruntzooki via Creative Commons

Most of the time, if you water your lawn correctly, you will be able to see improvement within a week or two. However, if no changes have occurred, that would be the time to check the roots again. If you see that new grassroots have appeared, then great! You have managed to solve the issue! However, if there’s no change, this means that you can do nothing more but plant new grass.

Step 5: Prepare Your Lawn For New Grass

grass growing
Image credits: alonso_inostrosa via Creative Commons

However unfortunate, this type of thing can happen. And while it is okay to be upset over your mistake and the outcome, you should waste no time and prepare to sow new grass. First, you will have to rake the dead grass from the affected spots on the lawn. This way, it will be easier for water to go through and get to any healthy roots of grass left. You should continue to water the area for about seven days and then wait for a few more before you plant the new grass. This will allow the water to get rid of the extra salts in the soil.

Step 6: Plant the New Grass

healthy green grass
Image credits: calebkimbrough via Creative Commons

Depending on how big the area that was affected is, you can choose one of two options – laying new sod or reseeding.


If the affected area is not too big, you can fix it by reseeding. When you put in the seeds, you should cover them with a thin layer of straw. This will keep the seeds safe from critters and elements.

Laying new sod

If the affected area is larger, you should lay new sod. It is the quickest way to get rid of the brown patches that are surely an eyesore for you. Make sure you push the sod down well. This is important because only this way will the roots get a firm grasp on the soil below.

Step 7: Keep An Eye On Your New Grass

green grass
Image credits: seelensturm via Creative Commons

Whichever method you chose from the previous step, you have to first water properly. Do it every day until it is evident that you have well-established roots. After you have ensured that, you should water two or three times a week. When the time comes, you should add fertilizer. Be careful not to overdo it this time! The perfect time to fertilize the new grass would be between two to three weeks after you plant it.

Step 8: Mowing

mowing lawn
Image credits: seantoyer via Creative Commons

The grass should be at least three inches high before you start to mow it. If the grass has grown enough, trimming it could enhance its growth. However, if it hasn’t, mowing it could kill it. The trick is to know when to mow after planting new grass seeds.

Pro Tips on Avoiding Over-Fertilizing

  • Use surface fertilizer. This way, it will be easier for you to see where you have applied it. Moreover, it is much easier to be removed if not applied properly.
  • Use organic fertilizer. They contain fewer minerals, so there’s no true risk of salt build-up.
  • Don’t stress your lawn by giving it extra fertilizer. Even if you add a very small amount of it, it can cause over-fertilization due to salt build-up.

The Greener Lawn has a great video explaining how to deal with an over-fertilized lawn. Garden Lawncare Guy also talks about how to fix an over-fertilized lawn.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does an over-fertilized grass look like?

You know your lawn is over-fertilized if your grass is yellow or brown, or if you see patches of dead grass on your lawn. Too much fertilizer will cause your lawn to build up toxic amounts of nitrogen and salt that eventually kill your grass and any other plant you may have growing on your lawn.

2. Will grass grow back after fixing over-fertilization?

Under the right care, healthy grass will grow right back, but before you revive your grass, make sure it’s healthy. Grass with yellow or brown streaks can recover, but dead ones will need to be replaced.

3. How long will it take for the lawn to recover from over-fertilization?

It would take about one to two weeks if the grassroots are fresh and healthy. On the other hand, it would take two to three weeks for your lawn to recover if you have to reseed new grass.

In Summary

We hope you liked the article and that it was helpful to you! Everyone wants their lawn to look fantastic. Unfortunately, sometimes we have small mishaps that can be very stressful to fix. Over-fertilization is perhaps one of the most common ones. This is why it is important to be careful when applying fertilizers and react quickly when you realize you made a mistake.

Have you had any over-fertilization mishaps? Tell us all about them in the comment section down below, and share the article if you found it helpful!