Everyone knows that fertilizing a lawn is a crucial step to getting the best grass color (and growth) throughout the growing season… but how do we get the timing right? If we have to water fertilizers into the lawn can we just apply our fertilizers to an already wet lawn that is covered in rain water, morning dew, or the after effects of our irrigation system?
Most fertilizers need water to get into the soil so moisture is necessary for the fertilizers to work but the even spreading of those fertilizers is usually the problem. Both foliar absorbed fertilizers and granular products which grass root systems uptake both need moisture to work but when too much water is present before spreading or spraying product the result is usually an uneven application leading to under fed area and over fed areas.
Fertilizing wet grass is not usually recommended for a variety of reasons including uneven soil distribution, foliar absorption, and nutrient loss through leeching and runoff. When grass is wet before fertilizers are applied it’s very hard to apply products safely so it’s rarely advisable.
The fact remains that it is almost never advisable to fertilize your lawn when it’s wet.
But there is so much to this answer, and there are exceptions with compost manures and a few other types as well . In this article, I’ll be taking you through what you need to know as regards the fertilization of wet lawns.
Make sure to see the following page to learn what organic fertilizers I like more than basic Milorganite.
Why You Should Not Fertilize Wet Grass
Fertilization of wet grass isn’t a great idea. This may look contradictory because a lot of folks practice it. But you need to know that wide acceptance doesn’t make it right.
Let’s take a look at the reasons you shouldn’t join them:
#1. Loss of Nutrients
Fertilizers are mobile. They don’t just stay at a place after they are applied. They can be affected and moved by heavy wind and water. When you apply fertilizers on wet grass, there is a high chance that the nutrients will be washed away.
#2. Uneven Distribution of Fertilizers
Loss of nutrients can lead to an uneven distribution of nutrients. Suppose the fertilizers get washed from the eastern part of the lawn to the western side; it’s without doubts that the western part will have more fertilizer than the east.
Although you applied fertilizer, some regions will be deficient in fertilizer. It will further result in uneven growth.
#3. Overfeeding of Your Lawn
The common practice is for lawn owners to apply another round of fertilizer when they realize that the last round was washed away. It sounds good, right? But the problem is that what will be added may eventually be more than what the lawn needs for growth and survival.
You will end up burning your grass with the chemicals. Even if you run another soil test to ascertain the right proportion of fertilizer, the chances that you will get a wrong result is high. This is due to the uneven distribution of the fertilizer.
#4. Pollution of Water Bodies
Washed out fertilizer often goes into water bodies. It will pollute your streams and rivers if they are close to the lawn.
That will be toxic for those who need the fertilizer for one heed of the other. The fishes and other aquatic organisms will be affected, as well.
Effects of Different Fertilizers on Wet Grass
There are different types of fertilizers based on their application, and the time it takes for them to release their nutrients. Each of them has their respective best practices. The effects of watering wet grass vary according to the type of fertilizer application you choose.
#1. Quick Release Fertilizers
Just as the name suggests, this type of fertilizer releases its nutrients faster into the soil. This may be a good thing if you want quick results. But it’s not a great idea to use this on wet grass.
It doesn’t take long before the grass absorbs the chemicals making the blades pigmented. You may notice some spots or discoloration as though the grass is suffering from a disease.
#2. Controlled-Release Fertilizers
Controlled fertilizers have thick coatings made of sulfur, resin, and organic polymers. These coatings hinder the fertilizer from releasing its nutrients at once.
As such, the fertilizer would have to be in the soil for a couple of weeks, during which water, sunlight, and other agents of degradation will act upon it.
This type of fertilizer doesn’t show immediate reactions when applied on wet grass. But with time, it will begin to leave pigments on the grass too.
#3. Granular Fertilizers
Granular fertilizers can be both quick release and controlled release. When using granular fertilizers, it’s usually advisable to apply it when the grass is dry.
Granular fertilizers, if they are not applied rightly, can burn the grass. This occurs more when using quick-release formulas. Using quick release fertilizers on wet turfs can cause your grass blade to experience yellow spotting and discoloration.
Even if you later decide to water the fertilizer into the soil, such extended contact on the leaf blade may cause your grass turf to wilt and die off. The damage that could happen within a few minutes of the application, leaving you with an awful sight.
So you want to ensure that moisture from fog, mist, dew, irrigation, and rainwater is thoroughly dried up before applying granular fertilizers. If you have to wait for this to happen, it’s absolutely worth every minute.
#3. Water Soluble Fertilizers
Liquid fertilizers or water-soluble fertilizers, on the other hand, can be applied even if the grass is slightly wet. The only time you should probably shy away from is after a heavy downpour, as this might because the fertilizer to leech off before it is absorbed, especially if the soil is compacted.
#5. Natural Fertilizers
The fifth type of fertilizer is natural fertilizer or composed. They are made of organic materials such as animal dung and plant fossils, chicken compost, kelp feast, fish pellets, cottonseed supper, and soya bean dinner.
They contain a varying proportion of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. That’s why you’ve got to ascertain the right percentage before you apply. Natural fertilizer releases its nutrients gradually into the soil.
Due to its decomposing nature, it promotes the presence of worms and microbes, which enhances various soil actions. This type of fertilizer is also very easy to wash away under heavy rainfall. But it can be applied on slightly wet grass since it’s not very mobile and doesn’t contain a high concentration of chemicals.
Do’s and Don’ts When Fertilizing
#1. Watch out for soggy lawns
Don’t apply fertilizer of any kind when the soil is saturated. If you do this, you run the risk of your fertilizers leaching into water bodies around. And that’s an environmental threat you don’t want to deal with.
There’s also the possibility that they might run too deep into the soil such that the roots might not be able to reach them. Water your lawn, but don’t overdo it. Water in your fertilizer, but please don’t make a pool. A slightly damp soil should be just fine.
#2. If Available, Go For Organic Fertilizers
This ranges from anything from grass clippings, manure, compost, kelp, and even fish emulsions. If you apply them sparingly as you actually should, you’ll discover that they not only improve the soil quality and structure, they are also less likely to cause your lawn any harm.
At least you can be sure that your leave blades wouldn’t burn off if you forget to apply them on dry turf.
The Best Time to Fertilize Your Lawn
There is no one answer to this. The best time to fertilize depends on a lot of factors. One of such is your grass type. We have two types, generally. They are the warm season grass and cold season grass.
For southern areas with warm-season grasses, fertilizing your lawn around late spring and early summer is appropriate. You want to make sure you fertilize during the peak of your turf’s growth, which is why it’s best to do it then.
You can always make your second application at the close of the summer season.
The only advisable fertilizer that can be used on wet grass with the minimal effect is compost manure. Nonetheless, it’s advisable you fertilize only on dry grass irrespective of the type of fertilizer you choose to use.