How to Apply Fertiliser

Is your lawn looking rather lacklustre and in need of a new lease of life? As you may know, fertiliser may be the answer you are looking for. However, in some instances this shouldn’t be the case.

This guide will go through what fertiliser is (just in case you want a more definitive answer), what to and when not to use it and a few other helpful tips. Your tired looking lawn will soon be a thing of the past!

Firstly, we’ll start with a quick description of what exactly fertiliser is and what it consists of.

Fertiliser is a substance that is applied to soils or plants in order to supply essential nutrients. The nutrients within the fertiliser can help aid growth, give the blades of grass a more vibrant colour, encourage rapid growth where necessary and can help repair when subject to damage (mowing or scarification).

It consists of the following nutrients:

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

Fertiliser can contain both organic and chemical materials in different quantities to give the desired affect when applied. There are two main types of fertiliser, organic and man-made.

What's the Difference Between Man-Made and Organic Fertiliser?


This is comprised of; you guessed it, organic matter from plants and animals. Due to its lower nitrogen content it is a slower acting form of fertiliser. To have similar amounts of nitrogen to man-made fertiliser, much more organic matter would be needed.


The main differing feature of man-made fertiliser is its high concentration of nitrogen. Due to this however, it is more prone to produce a symptom called ‘fertiliser burn’. To negate this, it is wise to use sparingly and to the directions of the manufacturer.

How to Apply Fertiliser

Applying fertiliser couldn’t be easier. The main 4 ways of applying are:

  • Top application – this is generally where synthetic fertiliser is applied to the upper soil/turf layer at the start of the season to encourage growth and generally to get the turf off to a healthy start.
  • Single plant application – as the name suggests this is where fertiliser is applied to single plants/leaves which could be affected by malnourishment. This can be done with a paint brush to make sure only the affected area is covered. It ensures that scorching of the rest of the leaves does not take place.
  • Base application – this is where we apply fertiliser to the base layer of soil which is ready to take new plants or turf. It helps get the new plants/turf off to a good start with all the nutrients it needs to thrive.
  • Liquid application – this is a great method for smaller areas and it will give immediate nutrients to the plants. As the fertiliser is applied via a spray bottle, the application is much more concentrated to a specific area.

When to use fertiliser?

In order to encourage growth, it is not necessary to apply nutrients in the form of fertilisers. Over the years the general consensus seems to be that fertilisers are needed at every step of the way and that they will fix all problems. This is not the case. Grasses can survive rain or shine in the most inhospitable places on earth without fertilisers however they are needed in some instances when the following is required.

  • A visually appealing lawn that is fine and has consistency throughout.
  • For additional nutrients after removing clippings from lawn.
  • Protection for areas with heavy footfall
  • For that vivid green lawn that has the wow factor
  • To persuade growth following damage
  • For speedy growth of seedlings
  • If we require unwanted plants to be discouraged.

Too much of a good thing?

Too much fertiliser can be detirmental and can result in something called "fertiliser burn" this is where th eplant leaves are scorched due to excessive amounts of nitrogen. The result on the plant will cause the leaves to dry out and in extreme cases, cause the plant to die.

Inconsistent fertilising can lead to;

  • Fertiliser burn
  • Inconsistent colour
  • Increased cost due to more product being applied
  • Inconsistent growth rate

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