7 Best Lawn Fertilizers for Spring

Updated: Jun. 08, 2023

Your grass is coming out of a long winter slumber and may need a pick-me-up. Here are the best spring fertilizers to get your lawn looking great.

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Spring Lawn Fertilizer Buying Considerations

To achieve a thick, lush lawn that will be the envy of your neighbors, establish an appropriate fertilizer regimen when the spring growing season begins. Before you rush into purchasing and applying a fertilizer, however, be mindful of these considerations.

  • Timing: “Don’t apply fertilizer until your lawn has fully come out of its dormancy or else it won’t be effective,” says Sod Solutions Chief Technology Officer Drew Wagner. “Instead, use this time to start scoping out fertilizers that fit your lawn’s needs.”
  • Soil composition: The health of your grass is largely determined by the health of your soil, which provides the right nutrients to keep your lawn flourishing from spring through fall. If you’re not sure what nutrients may be lacking in your soil, collect a sample to be analyzed. Choose a fertilizer based on the results so you can be sure you’re providing the correct nutrients in the appropriate proportions to kick-start the growing season.
  • Growing region: Depending upon where you live, you may have warm-season grass (Zoysia or St. Augustine in humid regions or Bermudagrass in hot, arid climates) or cool-season grass (bluegrasses, ryegrasses and fescues, for example). It’s important to know your growing region and type of turfgrass to determine the most active growing period when your lawn needs extra nutrients. For cool-season grasses, those periods are early spring and early fall. For warm-season grasses, they’re every four to eight weeks during active summer growth. Different types of grasses also flourish with different fertilizer formulations. Applying the wrong ingredients in the spring can damage your lawn during its delicate growing period.
  • Fertilizer form: Most fertilizers come in granular or liquid form. Granular fertilizers are generally less expensive and have slow-releasing formulations, so one application in the spring can last throughout the growing season. Liquid fertilizers are easier to apply uniformly. Many come in a bottle that you simply attach to the end of your garden hose and are quickly absorbed by your grass, but may need to be applied repeatedly. “Liquid fertilizers also have less salt content, which is why they are usually better as starter fertilizers for spring seedlings,” says Wagner. “Granular fertilizers contain a lot more salt and roots tend to steer away from them for this reason — especially if there’s also a lot of nitrogen and potassium.”
  • Fertilizer ingredients: Fertilizers generally contain the three primary macronutrients plants need to thrive: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Every fertilizer lists three numbers on the label, usually right above or below the product name. These three numbers are the fertilizer’s N-P-K ratio, or the proportion of the three main ingredients in percentage by weight. The optimal N-P-K ratio varies from season to season, based on the nutrient requirements of turfgrass for the upcoming weather and temperatures. Many early spring fertilizers have a higher nitrogen level to get the turfgrass growing early and recover from the stresses and injury of the cold winter season.
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Best Three-in-One Spring Lawn Fertilizer

A top time-saver, Scotts Thick’r Lawn combines seed, fertilizer and soil improver in one product to turbo-boost your lawn throughout the spring growing period while avoiding repeat applications.

The seeds germinate to fill out thin patches in your lawn while the fertilizer greens up your grass over the spring. The soil improver, meanwhile, helps develop a robust root system to keep your yard lush and healthy through the rigors of summer. Here are a few more tips for choosing the right lawn fertilizer.

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Best Two-in-One Spring Lawn Fertilizer

If you don’t need to reseed bald patches and just want to invigorate your lawn and stop weeds, the Greenview Fairway Formula Spring Fertilizer Weed & Feed offers unbeatable fertilizing and weed-killing power in a single product.

The slow-release nitrogen-enriched fertilizer gives your grass the growth boost it needs for up to three months. The weed killer keeps more than 200 spring invaders at bay, including dandelions and crabgrass.

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Best Organic Spring Lawn Fertilizer

Chemical-free, organic, affordable and safe for children and pets, Espona’s Organic Lawn Booster wins high marks for eco-friendly lawn care.

Specially formulated for an early spring green-up, this all-natural fertilizer contains feather meal, pasteurized poultry manure and gypsum to enhance the color and density of your lawn without aggressive chemicals that can burn your grass. Some Amazon reviewers note its strong odor, so avoid applying just before a backyard barbecue!

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Best Slow-Release Spring Lawn Fertilizer

The highly-rated Milorganite Slow Release Nitrogen Lawn Fertilizer is effective for up to 10 weeks, so you can achieve a dense, robust lawn without the hassle of repeat applications. Its non-burning formula won’t damage your grass. Because this fertilizer doesn’t contain salt or need to be watered in, it’s an excellent option for growing grass in arid climates, or areas with drought conditions or water restrictions.

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Best Quick-Greening Spring Lawn Fertilizer

Does your lawn need nutrients ASAP? According to glowing Amazon reviews, Pennington Ultragreen lives up to its name, with a formula rich in fast-acting nitrogen and iron that will make your lawn ultra-dense and vibrant in just weeks. Suitable for all types of turfgrass, Ultragreen also contains 10-1/2-percent slow-release nitrogen to nourish your lawn for up to three months, so your grass is ready to take on the summer heat.

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Best Liquid Spring Lawn Fertilizer

With its 28-0-0 formula and rapid-absorption liquid form, High Nitrogen Lawn Food by Simple Lawn Solutions is the number one choice for weakened lawns needing immediate, intense care. Effective for treating nutrient deficiencies in any turfgrass, this fertilizer needs to be applied about once a month during the growing season. Many reviewers on Amazon began noticing encouraging results after the first application.

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Best Year-Long Lawn Care Plan

For the lawn of your dreams, fertilizing in the spring is one step in a year-long lawn care regimen. Scotts has taken the guesswork out of it with a Complete Four-Step Program, beginning with an early spring fertilizer and a second feed-and-weed product for late spring. Apply two other lawn food products in summer and fall.

For a specific program adapted to your growing zone, you can opt for the Northern Lawn Care Plan, Southern Lawn Care Plan, or Pacific Northwest Plan.

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