Why is Grass Turning Yellow After Fertilizing?

Published Categorized as Turfgrass
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Having a lush lawn is no joke. You need to put in the effort, including watering, mowing and applying fertilizer, for the grass to look thicker and fuller. However, in some incidents, although rare, you will notice the grass turning yellow after fertilizing. What causes grass to turn yellow after applying fertilizer, and what are the fixes? I’ll answer those questions in this article.

Fertilizer burn is the main reason your grass turns yellow after fertilizing because of too much salt buildup. You may have applied too much nitrogen-rich fertilizer on the grass, or you fell accidentally on the grass while carrying fertilizer.

Whatever happened, your grass is turning yellow after fertilizing due to salt buildup on the leaves and soil. 

Related: When to Fertilize St Augustine Grass in Florida

Causes of Grass Turning Yellow After Fertilizing

There are three leading causes of grass turning yellow after fertilizing. 

1. Over Fertilizing

Over-fertilizing is not suitable for your grass. When you apply too much fertilizer on the grass, especially nitrogen, salt builds up on the grass. It does so around the roots and on the soil, becoming too much for the grass to absorb.

Applying too much fertilizer ends up piling together, making it difficult for air to circulate. 

In addition, the fertilizer will likely pile on the grass if you apply fertilizer on your grass during spring or fall because the temperature is not conducive for the absorption of the fertilizer. 

Salt and chemicals present in many fertilizers for grass is the most significant culprit for your grass turning yellow after fertilizing. Once the salt builds up, the grass dehydrates, eventually turning yellow.

Nitrogen, a must-have ingredient in lawn fertilizer, makes the grass greener, thicker, and healthier. However, excessive nitrogen alters the soil pH, thus burning the roots.

Read: How to Fix a Dog Destroyed by Dogs

2. Under Fertilizing

The other reason your grass is turning yellow after fertilizing is under fertilizing. Your grass needs a specific amount of fertilizer at a given time (usually, 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet). 

When your grass shows yellow patches, it is usually a sign of burn. However, in other incidents, the yellow spots indicate that the grass lacks nutrients. In this case, the nutrient your grass lacks could be nitrogen or iron.

3. Dog Urine

Pet urine, especially dog urine, is filled with nitrogen deposits. When a dog pees on the grass, you will see yellow patches on the spot where the urine falls. You can do away with this problem by planting dog-friendly grass in advance.

Additionally, you can train your dog not to pee on the grass or erect a fence around the lawn, protecting the grass against dogs and other trespassers. 

Also read: Best Grass for Dogs with Allergies

How to Fix Grass Turning Yellow After Fertilizing

Grass turning yellow after fertilizing

Nobody likes seeing their lawn turn from dense green (a sign of healthy grass) to ugly yellow-to-brown or dry patches. Before you rule out that your grass is dead, thus irreversible, here are some of the things you need to fix grass turning yellow after fertilizing:

Don’t Apply Too Much Fertilizer

The first cause of grass turning yellow after applying fertilizer is too much fertilizer. It would help if you stopped applying too much fertilizer on your grass. Instead, turn to peat moss or compost, which add nutrients to the grass.

The beauty of peat moss and other organic manures is they are slow-releasing. This means they add nutrients to the grass slowly but surely. 

But if you accidentally fall on the grass and pour a considerable amount of fertilizer on the grass, wipe it out fast. You must sweep out the fertilizer before it settles on the grass’s leaves or soil.

Remove Grass Clippings

Grass clippings from mowing grass can cover your grass, denying it the chance to breathe properly. Unlike mulch, which is dry, grass clippings are fresh and dense. Besides, fresh grass clippings can be a breeding ground for insects, fungi, and pests, bringing diseases to your grass.

You remove grass clippings by sweeping them away from the grass using a broom. A rake can also serve the purpose, but a broom does better. 

Alternatively, if you don’t want a double job, use a bagged lawnmower, which collects grass clippings as you mow.

Mow Your Grass 

Regular mowing is good practice when you want healthy grass. However, many people need to correct their mistakes when mowing grass. Always mow grass when it is dry. 

Ensure There is Enough Sunlight

If your grass is under a shade, trim some tree branches to ensure the grass receives enough sunlight. Traditionally, grass needs 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. When grass doesn’t receive enough sunlight, the leaves might turn yellowish, showing vitamin deficiency. 

Alternatively, grow shade-friendly grass on your lawn.

Improve Lawn Drainage & Aerate

Salty water lodging in your lawn can cause your grass to turn yellow. Ensure there is no unnecessary water lodging on your lawn. You can dig a small trench around the lawn and drain lodged water from the ground.

Using an aerator, poke holes to aerate your lawn to improve air circulation. 

Water Your Grass

Water is life, so they say. Giving your grass the required amount of water when it needs it the most will go a long way in growing a healthy lawn. Watering should be simple but infrequent and deep. 

The best time to water your lawn is early morning, between 3 AM and 7 AM, before sunshine. During the day, the grass will benefit significantly from the water sprinkled in the wee hours.

Watering grass in the late evening makes the grass to go to ‘sleep wet’, thus, attracting mold, fungi, pests, and other diseases.

Grass Turning Yellow After Fertilizing FAQs 

Q: Can Fertilizer Burn Grass?

A: The simple answer is yes. Fertilizer can burn grass; although you can revive it, it depends on when you take action.

Q: What does fertilizer burn look like on grass?

A: A fertilizer burn on grass may present itself by scorched stripes, yellow spots, or the entire lawn turning yellow.


By now, you know that over-fertilizing and under-fertilizing are the leading causes of grass turning yellow after fertilizing. Other causes are insufficient sunlight, dog urine, and too much water or lack of it.

You can fix grass turning yellow after applying fertilizer by applying the right amount of fertilizer, sweeping out grass clippings, watering, mowing, aerating, and ensuring that your grass receives enough sunlight. 

Choosing suitable grass is also crucial.