Watering Lawn After Fertilizing: When and For How Long?

Many homeowners aren’t sure the right time to water the lawn after fertilizing. While the application of fertilizer provides essential nutrients to support the healthy growth of your grass, the timing and method of watering play a crucial role in maximizing its effectiveness

I typically wait at least 24 hours before watering lawn after fertilization for several reasons. But there are some fertilizers, especially those in granular form, that recommend watering the lawn immediately after application.

In this article, I’ll cover exactly when and how to water your lawn after a fertilizer application.

Watering Lawn
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Why Water After Fertilizing?

A proper watering schedule is essential to a healthy lawn.  If your turf is weak and dormant from lack of water, then any type of fertilizer application will not stick.  This includes quick-release and slow-release fertilizers, liquid and granular fertilizers, and organic materials.

Assuming you have a proper watering schedule, then it is important to continue to water after fertilizing. The amount of water and timing depends on the type of fertilizer used.

Watering your lawn after fertilization does a few key things for your grass:

  1. Washes the fertilizer from the blades of grass and pushes it into the soil. This allows the nutrients to get to work and nourish the soil surface.
  2. Helps prevent and stop burning. Burning is when the grass dries out and goes brown.
  3. Prevent overfertilization from too much fertilizer on the grass blade. Overfertilization leads to brown spots, dead spots,  fungal disease, and root burn.

Additionally, if you live near ponds, lakes, rivers, creeks, and other surface water sources, it is important to water your lawn. Excess lawn fertilizer can pollute these ecosystems.

Should You Water Before Applying Lawn Fertilizer?

A deep watering of your lawn before applying fertilizer (1-2 days) will increase nutrient absorption. Always read the fertilizer instructions on how to use the product. Here’s a quick guide on reading and understanding the fertilizer label.

You can apply some brands (e.g., Scotts) to dry lawns. An initial watering session, however, will moisten the soil and put it in a better position to absorb nutrients. 

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When Should I Water My Lawn After Fertilizing?

The amount of time you should wait to water after lawn fertilizing depends on the product used:

  • Liquid fertilizer: wait until dry before watering. This is roughly 2 to 4 hours.
  • Granular fertilizer: water immediately*.

*Exception: Spot weed treatments. If you’ve also applied chemical herbicide to your lawn, then you will need to wait for it to dry completely before watering. If it isn’t dry, then the water will wash it away before it does its job.

However, I recommend waiting at least 24 hours to water your lawn after fertilization. This time will give the fertilizer the time it needs to settle.

After 24 hours have passed, give your turf a good soak, and by this, I mean generous watering and not a drizzle. A good watering session will help activate the fertilizer nutrients. It will also wash away any accumulated fertilizer off the grass blades.

See also my guide on Liquid vs. Granular fertilizers

How to Water Liquid Fertilizer? 

You don’t have to water liquid fertilizer but simply spray the fertilizer on your lawn and leave it. You can apply liquid fertilizer with a garden hose end sprayer or with a sprinkler system. 

  1. Start by watering your entire lawn a day or two before application.
  2. Once the grass is dry, apply the liquid fertilizer.
  3. Wait for the liquid fertilizer to dry and water your turf. 
liquid fertilizer

How to Dissolve and Water Granular Fertilizer? 

Granular fertilizer can be dissolved in water and then applied as liquid fertilizer to your lawn. However, it may take up to 24 hours for it to fully dissolve. On a brighter note, dissolving granular fertilizers before application quickly provides essential nutrients for your lawn. Here are a few pros and cons of liquid and granular fertilizers.

  1. When it comes to dissolving granular fertilizers, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. You will need a few things to get started such as a bucket, measuring cup, and stirrer.
  2. Next, you need to calculate the amount of liquid fertilizer you need to determine the amount of granular fertilizer you need to dissolve. To give you an idea, one cup of granular fertilizer makes roughly 8 to 16 gallons of liquid fertilizer. 
  3. Soak the granules in water for approximately 24 to 48 hours and strain the leftover solids left at the bottom. 
  4. Voila, your granular liquid fertilizer is ready to spray on your lawn
granular fertilizer

Let Nature Help: Using Rain to Water Your Lawn

Before you start applying fertilizer, first check your local weather. Rainfall can apply a good even cover for your entire lawn.  If the forecast calls for at least 1/4 inch of rain, then let nature help and water for you.

If, however, the forecast calls for heavy rain, exercise caution. Too much rain can drench your lawn and wash away the fertilizer.  

rain to water lawn

What to Do After Fertilizing and Watering?

After this initial watering, you can take a break from your watering efforts for a few days. This time will allow the nutrients to settle in the soil.

After this break, return to your lawn’s regular watering schedule. This will depend on your lawn, grass type, and region.

Should I Water My Lawn After Grasscycling?

Grasscycling is a natural, yet simple, approach to lawn care. A form of natural fertilization, grasscycling can help keep your lawn healthy and green.

Grass clippings are roughly 75%-85% water. When they decompose, they provide nutrients to the lawn. Grasscycling provides approximately 2 lbs of nitrogen per 100o sq. foot.

According to many lawn care specialists, grasscycling can completely cut the need for synthetic lawn fertilizers.

To water, wait for the grass clippings to decompose.  Then, water thoroughly and infrequently.

What Happens if You Don’t Water After Fertilization?

Several problems can arise if you don’t water your lawn after a fertilizer application, most notably:

Leaf Burn

Leaf burn occurs when you don’t wash the fertilizer off your grass blades. The accumulation of fertilizer will cause the leaves to go brown and/or wilt. It happens with granular and liquid fertilizers.

See also my guide on how to get burnt grass green again

fertilizer burn on lawn

Poor-quality fertilizer

Fertilizer contains nutrients that can deteriorate in quality if not watered within 2 days after application. This leads to poor-quality fertilizer that doesn’t contain the right mix of nutrients for good grass health. 

The best way to prevent these issues is by watering your lawn immediately after fertilization. In most cases, you can wait until the end of the day to water without risking the health of the lawn. 

What Time of Day to Water Lawn After Fertilization? 

I’ve often noticed my neighbor’s sprinklers running at all times of the day, but this isn’t the right approach to watering your lawn!

Watering your lawn should nurture your turf without wasting water or fertilizer.  The best time will take into consideration your environment and region.

In general, the best time to water your lawn is in the morning, before 10:00 am.

Watering early, around sunrise, is when the day is at its coolest. This allows precious nutrient water to absorb into the soil and grass roots rather than be lost to evaporation.

Watering later in the day or at night, when it’s warmer and breezier is not ideal.  This increases the risk of the fertilizer blowing away, or the water evaporating.

Start by watering once or twice a week after a fertilizer application. You can step it up to three to four times a week roughly 2 weeks after a fertilizer application. Make sure that the top 1.5 inches of soil are moist but not soggy as it may cause root rot.

How to Apply Fertilizer? 

Applying fertilizer may seem like a no-brainer, but there’s a fair amount of thought that goes into the process.

  1. First, you need to make sure to select the right fertilizer for your grass type. 
  2. Next, you need to create a fertilizer schedule that runs from the start to the end of the growing season. Turfs need fertilizer in early spring when the grass begins to green up, and not in the hottest parts of the summer.
  3. You can apply your fertilizer either by hand or with a spreader

I prefer using a spreader. I find that using it by hand can result in uneven coverage. With a spreader, I’m more guaranteed to get even coverage and avoid burn.

If you have a large lawn, a broadcast spreader is a good option because it needs fewer passes in your yard. 

Each fertilizer is different, so it’s a good idea to refer to the package instructions. 

Here’s an informative video about when to water your lawn after fertilizing:

When to water lawn after fertilizing

Final Thoughts 

Watering your lawn after fertilization prevents burn and other grass health issues. It will also help ensure the soil absorbs the nutrients. After applying, you will want to wait until the fertilizer is dry before watering. Then be sure to stick to a regular watering schedule.

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