How Do You Fix Overfertilized Soil?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:52 pm

Your lawn needs sufficient nutrients to develop magnificently and appear in a lush green. At the beginning of the season, it is therefore a good idea to apply a fertilizer and return to the soil the nutrients it has been deprived of.

What you mean well can turn into the opposite. You have applied too much fertilizer and your lawn suffers damage.

How Do You Fix Overfertilized Soil?

How do you know if your lawn is overfertilized and what countermeasures to take? Learn how to always provide the optimal amount of lawn fertilizer and avoid overfertilization.

Can you overfertilize a lawn?

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Manufacturers give precise dosage recommendations for the fertilizer. So you should know how much of the agent belongs on the lawn.

If in doubt, apply more and do not follow the recommendation. Applying a little more certainly won’t do any harm, and perhaps it will give the lawn an extra boost?

However, the lawn cannot always cope with the amount of fertilizer applied. In the worst case, the lawn and other plants die.

The reason for this is the interaction of the individual components of the fertilizer. If you add a high amount of phosphate to the soil, plants can no longer optimally absorb nutrients such as iron or manganese. Iron in particular is important for the health of the lawn and essential for oxygen transport.

Nitrogen is a popular ingredient in fertilizers. It ensures that lawns and plants literally sprout up. The growth could be so fast that the fruits of crops become too small. The harvest turns out smaller and thus the growth was nice to look at, but the actual yield turns out smaller.

So it is possible to overfertilize the lawn because of the interactions of the nutrients. An oversupply of one ingredient can block the uptake of another. Therefore, always make sure to maintain balance so that fertilizing does not prove detrimental.

Signs of an overfertilized lawn

You now know that overfertilizing your lawn is a real danger. In the worst case scenario, the lawn dies and the work invested was for nothing. To prevent this “worst case” from happening, you should pay attention to the warning signs of an overfertilized lawn in advance. Depending on the excess nutrient, other symptoms will form.

Nitrogen leads to faster growth and ensures that the lawn reaches the desired height in a very short time. But this growth is associated with some risks.

Lawns and plants are generally more susceptible and weaker. This applies to fungal diseases but also to colder temperatures. Damage shows up more quickly and resistance leaves much to be desired.

The color of the lawn appears an intense green. What you perceive as a positive sign could be a symptom of the over-fertilized lawn.

When there is too much phosphate in the soil, it does not show directly on the plants. Therefore, you can hardly tell that the phosphate level is too high.

There is only the risk that the phosphate is washed out of the soil into the groundwater. This results in a higher load there and the natural balance is thrown out of kilter.

Most lawn fertilizers contain potassium. Potassium is responsible for regulating the water balance. In an optimal amount, it ensures that the lawn’s defenses increase and it asserts itself as more resistant.

If too much potassium has been applied, it will inhibit the growth of the lawn. In addition, leaf tips may die and brownish edges may form.

A magnesium fertilizer promises to strengthen the lawn’s defenses and improve growth in the spring. Magnesium is considered the basis of the green leaf pigment chlorophyll and is therefore essential for photosynthesis.

If too much magnesium is present, the effects are similar to those of potassium. Growth is inhibited and the turf turns yellowish. The process of photosynthesis is disrupted, which is why the discoloration occurs.

Why do burnt spots appear?

Over-fertilization may cause some areas of the lawn to turn brown. It gives the appearance that the lawn is burning because it is over exposed to the sun.

The cause of bald patches may be overfertilization. Plants usually absorb water through an osmotic process. The plant cells have a high concentration of ions, while mm soil the ion concentration is lower. The water tries to balance the osmotic gradient and accumulates in the plant cells.

If the lawn is overfertilized, many ions, due to the nutrient, are outside the root. The concentration is so high that there is no osmotic gradient. If the ion count of the soil even exceeds that of the root, water is actually removed from the turf. The water from the turf migrates to the soil to compensate for the imbalance there.

The lawn literally dies of thirst and dies in the affected areas. The effect is similar if you apply road salt and withdraw the water in this way.

What can you do about the overfertilized lawn?

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If you have noticed your mishap and realize yourself that you have applied too much fertilizer, the damage can be limited. This depends on whether you have applied granules or liquid fertilizer.

With granules, the countermeasure is quite simple. You remove the fertilizer either by hand or with a rake. Wear gloves when doing this to avoid coming into direct contact with the fertilizer.

With a liquid fertilizer, the countermeasure proves to be more difficult. You can hardly remove the fertilizer itself. However, it helps if you water the lawn and in this way dilute the fertilizer.

If brown and bare patches appear, the only thing that will help is lawn repair. Sow a new lawn, which hopefully will no longer fall victim to overfertilization.

Avoid overfertilization

Overfertilization can be avoided with a little care and thorough preparation. Then you can avoid overfertilizing the lawn and be sure that the damage will not occur.

Organic fertilizer

Instead of resorting to artificial fertilizers, which advertise high effectiveness but can overshoot the mark, it is a good idea to use an organic fertilizer. These are more likely to have a long-term effect, so it is less likely that the lawn will be over-fertilized.

Mineral fertilizer

If you rely on a mineral fertilizer, then strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s dosage recommendation. You now know that it is harmful if the lawn is overfertilized. Thus, when fertilizing, make sure you always apply the correct amount.

Use a spreader

Fertilizing a lawn by hand not only requires a lot of effort, it is also more difficult to accurately estimate the dosage. Often, the fertilizer is unevenly distributed, so some areas are over-fertilized while others could quietly use more nutrients.

Before use, check that the spreader works and evenly applies the lawn fertilizer. Then virtually nothing can go wrong and the soil will get the needed substances for the lawn to grow healthy.

An overfertilized lawn

You only want the best for your garden. Therefore, you prefer to be more generous when applying lawn fertilizer. But what seems logical at first can turn out to be a disadvantage.

If the lawn is overfertilized, it takes a damage and can die in extreme cases. Therefore, you should urgently avoid overfertilization and with the measures presented here, make sure that the optimal amount of nutrients is available in the soil.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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