There’s a bewildering array of fertilizers on the market directly designed for lawns, but what’s the best call? Is it slow release fertilizers, dry fertilizers that require extra watering, a harsh granular fertilizer with a safety label as long as a novel, or fancy organic brands with amino acids and rare ingredients that are almost impossible to pronounce?
While all these products have their place, liquid products like a ready-to-use blend or a liquid lawn fertilizer concentrate can be one of the best fertilizers for the home gardener.
It helps make adding the right amount of fertilizer for your grass type easy, and the liquid form is much more readily absorbed than most granular products.
Let’s take a look at how you can get some good liquid plant food out there onto your hungry grass, no matter what the size of the lawn or the lawn’s needs.
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What is a Liquid Fertilizer?
A liquid fertilizer is a solution of easy-to-absorb nutrients applied directly to the root zone of whatever plant you are fertilizing.
For lawns, they’re typically water-soluble blends of nitrogen, with additional nutrients that vary from brand to brand.
A well-fed lawn is less likely to suffer from diseases or pests and will be better equipped to withstand extreme weather conditions, so getting to grips with how fertilizers work is a good idea.
Nutrients in a liquid fertilizer are delivered in a form ready to go. Grass can absorb them almost immediately and put them to use quite quickly.
The other common form of lawn fertilizer on the market is granular fertilizers. They generally contain the same nutrient profile but in a slower-releasing form.
Many folks prefer them as they take their time delivering their nutrient load and can deliver more consistent nutrition over a larger time frame.
How to Choose the Best Liquid Lawn Fertilizer
There’s no one size fits all approach to lawn care and choosing the right fertilizer for you takes a bit of thought. You need to ensure the product you choose suits your specific needs.
Here are some things to consider to get a good feel for your garden’s needs.
The Quality of Your Soil
The first thing you need to do before loading your lawn with any commercial product is perform a soil test to get a good idea of the soil conditions.
This will tell you what your lawn really needs and will prevent you from wasting money on products that aren’t going to help at all.
Too much fertilizer can also be just as bad as too little, and clay soils will want a different treatment than sandy soils, for example.
Soil tests are readily available at most home and garden centers and are readily available online. They usually will tell you the nutrients you’re missing. They’re a snap to use and can save you a lot of fuss.
If you’re in the United States, you can often get a cheap to low-cost test from your local county extension office. They’ll tell you pH and soil composition in addition to what nutrients are in the soil.
After all, there’s no point spraying a nitrogen-rich fertilizer all over your yellow grass if it actually needs a bit of lime.
Type of Grass
Different types of grasses require different amounts and types of nutrients to grow. For example, warm-season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and centipede need less nitrogen than cool-season grasses like Fescue and rye.
If you’re unsure what type of grass you have, you may need to consult your local nursery or gardening center for advice. Extension offices are just as good at advice on grass as they are testing the soil beneath, so don’t be afraid to ask them, too.
Condition of Grass
The current condition of your lawn will also affect the type of fertilizer you choose. If your lawn is in poor health, with dead brown patches or weeds taking over, it may need more phosphorus to help it recover and strengthen the plant roots.
If your turf is in good health, a more generalist, balanced fertilizer should do the trick. Also, if you’re applying fertilizer on newly seeded areas or new sod, choose a starter fertilizer with higher phosphorus levels to promote healthy root growth.
When looking for the best lawn fertilizer, consider what equipment you have access to and how much labor is involved.
Granular lawn fertilizers are typically spread using a lawn spreader, for instance, a push or walk-behind broadcast spreader, which may require more effort and equipment than you’re willing to invest.
Liquid fertilizers, on the other hand, can be applied with a hose-end sprayer or even a tank sprayer for larger areas.
This method requires less labor and is usually easier and faster to apply. You also risk less damage with liquid applications.
Many types of fertilizers can burn leaves or cause stress to the grass roots if applied too richly, but applying liquid nutrients is the best way to get the fertilizer nutrients down into the soil quickly.
The growing season should also be taken into consideration when selecting a fertilizer. Cool-season grasses grow in the spring and fall, while warm-season grasses do their best in summer.
Choose your fertilizer accordingly, and make sure you put it down at the right time. Cool-season grasses need more nitrogen than warm-season varieties during their peak growing season.
During the winter months, when most grasses are dormant, you should use a light fertilizer with low nitrogen levels to keep your lawn from becoming too well-fed and overgrown.
Organic vs. Synthetic
In recent years there’s been a lot of talk about the damage done by the overuse of strong synthetic fertilizers. They are generally made from oil-derived bases and synthesized in large chemical plants.
Over time, the use of synthetics can damage the delicate ecosystem that exists beneath the soil, and that can help promote strong roots and green grass even without a lot of heavy interference.
They’re popular because they’re cheap, with easy application, but the gardener does tend to pay for them in the long run.
The environment pays, too – heavy rain can tear the synthetics from the soil, washing them into local waterways and streams where they can cause a lot of damage.
Organic fertilizers are often a better option. They get their main nutrients from natural materials, like manure, compost, or agricultural waste, and a more top-shelf organic liquid fertilizer may include ocean kelp, earthworm castings, and fish emulations.
These are an excellent choice, as they deliver organic matter deep beneath the roots, improving the soil structure and promoting naturally healthy lawns.
All good quality fertilizers will have their NPK ratio listed somewhere on the packaging. They’re arranged as a ratio and will give you a good idea of how much of the big three macronutrients are present in the product.
These nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), and all three are fundamental for all plant growth.
Nitrogen promotes leafy growth and helps keep your grass green. Phosphorus helps build strong root systems while promoting lush lawn development. Potassium encourages overall health and stress tolerance in plants.
Lawns, in general, go through more nitrogen than any other macronutrient. It doesn’t hang about in the soil after application, and even the nitrogen the plants do take up is clipped and removed every time you trim the grass.
Phosphorus and potassium, on the other hand, tend to persist in the soil for longer periods. It’s why you often see lawn fertilizers with high N numbers and low to non-existent amounts of P or K.
If the NPK is the carbohydrates, fats, and protein of the plant world, the micronutrients are its vitamins and minerals.
They are trace elements found in soil that perform a host of functions within the plant, for example, by helping strengthen plants’ cell walls and promote disease resistance.
It’s easy to get fixated on the N number and forget the importance of the micronutrients. Don’t forget to ensure your lawn has enough iron, manganese, copper, sulfur, and other micronutrients to help promote overall plant health.
15 of the Best Liquid Fertilizers for Lawns
Now that you know what to look for when selecting a liquid lawn fertilizer, check our top picks of the best liquid fertilizer for lawns in 2023.
We’ve narrowed the options based on type, grass condition, application method, growing season, macronutrients, micronutrients, and customer reviews.
1. Dr. Earth Super Natural Lawn Fertilizer
Dr. Earth Super Natural Lawn Fertilizer provides some of the best results with minimal effort. The liquid lawn fertilizer is ready-to-spray and attaches easily to any garden hose, making it simple to use without measuring or mixing.
It’s a good choice for sustainably-minded gardeners as a 100% organic product. It’s free from GMOs, chicken manure, or sewage sludge – meaning it is both safer and more pleasant for people and pets and is sustainable in its production.
It also contains a prebiotic, a blend of micro-organisms that are designed to boost soil health. These prebiotics are released quickly, providing the fast-acting effects you need without waiting too long for visible improvement.
2. Miracle-Gro Lawn Food
Miracle-Gro Lawn Food is a long-time favorite of first-time gardeners and veterans alike. Its fast-acting formula provides fast results and encourages a soft, green lawn in a few days.
This fertilizer contains all the nutrients essential for healthy turf growth, with special emphasis on nitrogen and phosphorus, which are essential for thickening and greening up your lawn.
And with the branded Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder, you can easily apply it over an extended area with precision.
3. Scotts Turf Builder Liquid Lawn Fertilizer
Scotts Turf Builder Liquid Lawn Fertilizer is one of the more popular liquid lawn fertilizers around. It’s easy to apply – the bottle connects directly to your garden hose – and the nutrient profile is fantastic for fast results.
The Scotts Brand is highly regarded and for good reason. The soil quickly absorbs the liquid fertilizer and begins to work immediately upon application.
Its fast action helps promote strong root systems in your grass, giving them better access to water and nutrients, resulting in an even healthier-looking lawn overall.
4. Nature’s Lawn & Garden – Lawn Force 5
I’m a fan of working with nature, not against it, and Nature’s Lawn and Garden Lawn Force 5 is formulated to do just that. It’s derived from seaweed and contains a host of micronutrients, naturally occurring growth promoters, and soil-boosting components.
Rather than dump large quantities of nutrients on the lawn, Lawn Force 5 instead delivers a host of supplemental compounds often missed by rougher fertilizers that depend on synthetic chemicals to deliver the right nutrients.
Humic acid and fulvic acid are especially useful for promoting good, sustained growth in your lawn. It dethatches and aerates in addition, making it a great all-rounder. It’s a bit pricier than most, but the results are far more enduring.
5. Dr. Earth Pot of Gold All-Purpose Plant Food
Dr. Earth Pot of Gold All Purpose Plant Food contains the full spectrum of macro and micronutrients that plants need to thrive.
This ensures that your lawn will get the exact nutrient it needs for optimal growth and health. While not specifically a lawn food, it’s a good choice for those of us with a mixed garden, as it’ll safely feed the vegetable garden or fruit trees at the same time.
Finally, this all-purpose fertilizer offers excellent value since it is highly concentrated; one bottle will last several applications depending on how much area you are applying it to. It’s a convenient solution that requires minimal effort on the user’s part.
6. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food
This is an enduring favorite of the home gardener, a good all-rounder that suits smaller gardens. While not a specialist lawn product, Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food is full of essential nutrients that will feed plants and help them grow bigger and more beautiful.
In addition, it can be used with the Miracle-Gro garden feeder or any watering can, making it very convenient for your gardening needs.
It’ll get the job done for small areas of a courtyard or turfed areas of a terrace garden. The generalist formula means you can use it in areas, too, making it an economical choice for those of us with small, complex gardens to tend.
I wouldn’t recommend it for a full-size lawn, but if you’ve got a rug-sized patch, it’s not a bad choice.
7. Medina 12-4-8 HastaGro Lawn
For a low-fuss choice, the Medina 12-4-8 Hastagrow is a punchy formula designed to cover your basics and cover them well.
This product is available in a range of sizes, from a convenient quart-sized hose-ready bottle right up to a monster 55-gallon drum and beyond.
Besides its formidable ratio of 12% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus, and 8% potassium, it also contains an array of soil boosters and liquid humus that supports root health and improves the uptake of nutrients.
Be careful with application, however – very strong formulas have a habit of scalding leaves, so be sure to apply in the late afternoon, water well after, and avoid overdosing.
8. Urban Farm Fertilizers Liquid Lawn Fertilizer
For those of you with persistent pH problems, Urban Farm Fertilizers’ Liquid Lawn Fertilizer for grass is a good call. In addition to a whopping 13% nitrogen to support leaf development, this formulation also includes iron to help regulate soil acidity.
It’s well documented that many broad-leaf weeds can’t handle the pH changes brought about by the regular application of iron compounds, so this is a good way to help prevent lawn weeds before they get a chance to really become a problem.
It’s also one of the safer options, as it’s designed for pasture use as well as home lawns, so if it’s good enough to be used around livestock, it’s not going to pose too many issues for pets.
9. PetraTools Liquid Max Strength Nitrogen Fertilizer
In general, I don’t recommend pure, high-strength nitrogen supplementation for lawns – they are, after all, complex living things with more than just one need to be met.
But if you’ve done a soil test and your soil is totally tapped out for Nitrogen, this is a brute-force way to get everything back into the best condition.
Liquid Max contains a whopping 28% nitrogen, on par with industrial-strength agricultural fertilizers. It’s capable of turning raw sand into a lush turfy oasis.
Be extremely cautious with its use, and only apply if you know your lawn is nitrogen deficient through testing – it contains very little else to assist your lawn’s success, and too much nitrogen is just as bad as too little.
10. Simple Lawn Solutions Extreme Grass Growth Lawn Booster
Simple Lawn Solutions Extreme Grass Growth Lawn Booster offers a unique combination of nutrients to promote healthy and lush growth.
The 6% nitrogen content helps to give plants their green coloring while encouraging vigorous growth for the development of a dense lawn.
The 18% phosphorus content promotes root development and enhances vigorous plant development in the early stages – making this particular blend a good choice during the establishment of new lawns with either sod or seed.
The addition of humic acid helps promote the release of locked-up nutrients in the soil for ongoing and sustained growth.
11. Advanced 16-4-8 Balanced NPK – Lawn Food
Advanced 16-4-8 Balanced NPK – Lawn Food is a tasty smorgasbord for your grass.
It contains all the essential macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and thanks to the addition of high-quality seaweed and fish emulsion, it covers a good spread of the micronutrients, too. Both ingredients contain proteins and naturally occurring growth promoters that help support optimum nutrient uptake.
16-4-8 Lawn Food can be applied quickly and easily with a spray bottle or sprayer, making it a great choice for those who want a fast and effective way of maintaining their lawns with lush growth. As with all high-nitrogen fertilizers, be sure to apply it carefully to prevent scalding your turf.
12. LawnStar 30-0-0 NPK Fertilizer
LawnStar 30-0-0 NPK Fertilizer delivers a specialized nitrogen macronutrient that your lawn needs to perform vital plant processes.
This fertilizer features a premium blend of fast and slow-release sources, allowing your lawn to quickly green up and benefit from superior longevity – one dose may well supply an entire season of growth.
Be very cautious about the use of this product. It is, without a doubt, a powerful product that’s not to be underestimated.
While it can deliver amazing results, I would stress that this kind of high-nitrogen fertilizer is best reserved for cases where you know for sure your soil is deficient.
It’ll revive totally depleted lawns in no time at all, but if your nitrogen levels are already good, you could really damage your grass. Give the garden soil time to recover before you swing in for any second application.
13. envii Greenkeeper’s Secret Liquid Lawn Fertiliser
envii Greenkeeper’s Secret Liquid Lawn Fertilizer combines a powerful biostimulant and fertilizer into one treatment for improved grass and soil health.
With visible results within 7-10 days, this lawn improver acts as a stress support system to ensure your lawn is healthy and green all year long.
Plus, it’s entirely safe for pets and children due to its natural ingredients, so you can rest assured you’re caring for your family while caring for your grass.
It’s also very economical, as it comes as a concentrate, making it a great choice if you have a large area to cover.
14. Environmental Factor Liquid Corn Gluten
Environmental Factor Liquid Corn Gluten is effectively a protein shake for your grass. It’s made from powdered corn gluten, a renewable resource left over from corn production, so it’s a good call for those wanting to be more mindful of their gardening practices. It’s sustainable and environmentally friendly.
It’s been supplemented with a suit of proprietary enzymes that help to maximize its effectiveness when applied. This makes the process much easier for professional landscapers or DIY gardeners alike. It’s just a matter of spraying over the turf according to the instructions for fast-acting results.
15. Simple Solutions Commercial Grade Lawn Energizer
When treating yellow lawns, it’s hard to go past Simple Solutions Commercial Grade Lawn Energizer. It’s a 6-0-0 blend with 6% nitrogen for a low-hazard application that is unlikely to cause leaf scalding or other problems often associated with big, powerful NPKs.
It’s supplemented with 5% iron, which I love for its ability to treat iron deficiency and suppress broad-leaf weeds like dandelion and dock.
The liquid iron alters the pH of the soil in favor of grass while stressing the weeds so effectively they can darken and die in just hours.
It’s dramatic, but it’s also one of the safest ways to treat weeds of that type, making this a great choice for those of us with pets or kids who love the lawn just as much as we do. It’s much better than risking it with a targeted weed killer.
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