How Come When I Fertilize My Grass it Turns Yellow?


A strong, green lawn is a point of pride for many homeowners, and fertilizer is an important part of encouraging healthy grass. When grass turns yellow after applying fertilizer, there is a problem with the health of the grass or the fertilizer used. Identifying the problem is one way to help stop the damage.

Fertilizer Burn

  • Fertilizer burn occurs when there is too much fertilizer applied to the grass, or when applications are too close together. Most lawn grasses benefit from fertilization in the fall and in the spring; additions of more fertilizer during the growing season causes fertilizer burn. The chemicals and salt in fertilizer build up in the soil and on the grass, dehydrating it quickly and causing it to become yellow. Fertilizer burn occurs even on healthy grass.


  • Yellow grass that happens because of fertilizer burn is less likely to continue growing, is more susceptible to pests and diseases and looks unattractive and unhealthy. Severe fertilizer burn has the potential to kill patches of grass, especially young, new or weak grass. Fertilizer burn, in conjunction with other health problems, can ruin sections of the lawn and require replacement grass seed or sod to restore the appearance of the lawn. Fertilizer burn is a time-consuming and expensive problem.

Fixing Fertilizer Burn

  • The effects of fertilizer burn can be mitigated. Water the lawn immediately after fertilizing to help disperse the chemicals into the soil and stop them from building up on the lawn. Mow the lawn with a bag on the mower to catch the tops of the grass and any fertilizer that remains on the surface to stop it from causing further damage. Continue watering the lawn daily to help keep the soil moist and the grass healthy.

Avoiding Fertilizer Burn

  • Preventing fertilizer burn is essential to the health of the grass. While fertilizer is necessary for green grass, avoiding the application of excess fertilizer is also necessary. Spread fertilizer evenly over the grass; avoid depositing large patches of fertilizer because these will lead to burn. Only use the recommended amount of fertilizer on the lawn to prevent problems with the lawn turning yellow. Fertilize the lawn according to the recommended schedule on the fertilizer package.


  • Photo Credit Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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