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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns

How to apply fertilizer

Proper application of fertilizer depends upon the type of fertilizer you buy and the type of equipment you use. Dry fertilizers move into the soil and are taken up by the roots and are then translocated throughout the plant, reaching the leaves. Liquid fertilizers are absorbed primarily through the leaves.

Methods of application for dry fertilizers

Mechanical spreaders

By hand

  • Fertilizers can be scattered by hand and raked in if gloves are worn, but this method is not very efficient or accurate.

Method of application for liquid fertilizers

Applying dry fertilizers

  • Pour the material into your spreader over a driveway or other cement area where spilled material can be swept up (pouring over a lawn where spilling may occur can lead to burn); do not let excess fertilizer be washed into storm drains.
  • A few days before you fertilize, deeply irrigate your lawn so that the soil is moist; the grass blades should be dry by the time you start your application.
  • Fertilize the edges first.
  • Make passes up and down the remainder of the lawn, spreading half the required fertilizer; be sure to turn off the spreader when you are turning around or have finished a pass.
Illustration showing pattern of fertilizing
  • Go over the lawn a second time, spreading the remainder of the fertilizer at right angles to the first.
  • With each pass, overlap wheel marks to avoid any striping.
  • Irrigate after application to move the fertilizer from the leaves into the soil.
  • Return any leftover material to its container and hose out the equipment and let it air-dry.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

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