Should You Fertilize Your Lawn Before or After Rain?

Should You Fertilize Your Lawn Before or After Rain

Every green space owner dreams of a lush green lawn. It doesn’t just LOOK good, but it’s also essential for the health of your lawn.

Many gardeners will choose to use a reputable fertilizer to speed up the growth of their grass, and help it come through looking healthy. 

A beautifully green lawn is a sure sign of healthy grass, so knowing the right conditions to fertilize it in are essential. 

Although you may think using fertilizer is a simple process, even the most experienced users have specific questions – especially those who live in rainy climates or are due a particularly heavy rainstorm.

If rain helps your plants grow naturally, should you still fertilize it before a downpour, or will you risk overdoing it? 

If you’re concerned about fertilizing your lawn, stick with us to learn how to care for your lawn – the right way. 

What Does Fertilizer Do For Lawns?

If you want to put fertilizer on your lawn, it’s probably because you’ve heard it will make your lawn thick and green – in all honesty, this is just scratching the surface. Here’s what fertilizer does to your lawn, and how it works. 

Fertilizers are filled with a variety of nutrients that help your lawn grow thick and strong. Although ingredients can vary, the main ingredients in fertilizer can include: 

  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is an essential nutrient needed for healthy plant growth. Phosphorus can aid root development and maturation and can help your grass seeds come through strong. With healthier roots, your grass is more likely to survive dry spells.
  • Potassium: Feeding your lawn a healthy dose of potassium will give it the power it needs to fight disease and stress. Potassium will give your lawn an overall ‘health boost’. Like phosphorus, it will give your lawn the strength it needs to fight off any baddies and protect itself against extreme weather and damage from foot traffic.
  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen is one of the most essential nutrients in the fertilizer. Nitrogen can promote healthy leaf growth by encouraging the production of chlorophyll, an essential chemical involved in photosynthesis. Although your lawn gets nitrogen naturally from rain, adding a small amount via your fertilizer will ensure it gets the nourishment it needs to thrive.

Should You Use Fertilizer Before or After Rain?  

Now, let’s take a look at one of the most important questions: should you fertilize your lawn before or after the rain? And how do you know when to apply it? 

Avoid Fertilizing Before Heavy Rain 

If you’re due a heavy rain storm, you might want to hold off on the fertilizer.

If you apply fertilizer before heavy rainfall, there’s a good chance that the rain will cause more run-off, and as a result, wash away all of your fertilizer before it has even had a chance to settle and absorb into your lawn.

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This will deem your fertilizer ineffective, and waste the effort and money you’ve put into fertilizing your lawn. 

However, if you’re only expecting a short burst of rainfall, it’ll be fine to spread your fertilizer.

A small amount of water can even help the nutrients in your fertilizer break down and absorb into the roots, but for this to work effectively, you’ll have to time it right.

Any indication of a heavy rain storm, and you should avoid laying your fertilizer. 

Don’t Fertilize During A Drought 

On that note, you’ll also want to avoid fertilizing your lawn during a drought. Too much water is bad, and not enough can also be detrimental to your lawn.

As we’ve said, your fertilizer will need at least SOME moisture to help it through the fertilization process.

Fertilizing your lawn when there’s not a drop of rain or moisture in sight is a bad move, and it’ll probably burn through your grass.

Try Fertilizing After Rainfall 

If you don’t want to fertilize your lawn before heavy rainfall, you can always wait until it stops raining to fertilize your lawn. If you’re waiting until after the rain, you should wait until the grass is completely dry before you start fertilizing.

If you’re doing it this way, ensure you check the weather forecast and keep an eye on precipitation levels in your area.

You should also ensure there’s a consistent amount of sunlight over the next few days to help improve the efficacy of your fertilizer. Sunlight is essential for photosynthesis, so this is essential. 

The Pros And Cons Of Fertilizing Before Or After Heavy Rain 

Here are the pros and cons of fertilizing before or after heavy rain you need to consider: 

After Heavy Rain 

Pros 

  • Increase the effectiveness of your fertilizer 
  • Reduce fertilizer runoff 

Cons

  • You won’t be taking advantage of natural ways to get the fertilizer into your lawn 

Before Heavy Rain 

Pros 

  • May help the nitrogen absorb into the lawn more effectively 

Cons 

  • Can cause your fertilizer to wash into stormwater systems and can affect your water system in the long term

Tips For Applying Your Fertilizer After Rainfall 

If you want to apply your fertilizer after a heavy burst of rainfall, use these essential tips and tricks to get the best results. 

  1. Don’t put your fertilizer directly on wet blades of grass 
  2. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, and only apply fertilizer if you’re expecting a few days of sunshine. Even if the sunshine isn’t consistent, a few hours a day will encourage photosynthesis, which is essential for a lush, green lawn 
  3. Wait for a day or two after the rainfall to apply your fertilizer. This will give your lawn a chance to absorb any large pools of water, but still keep the ground nice and moist, which is what your fertilizer wants! 
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So… When Should I Apply My Fertilizer? 

To avoid wasting time and money, don’t spread your fertilizer if you’re expecting HEAVY rainfall. Ideally, you’ll want to spread your fertilizer when no rain is expected for at least two days.

Should You Fertilize Your Lawn Before or After Rain (1)

However, if it’s just going to be light or intermittent showers, you should be okay. “Heavy” is the keyword here. 

However, most people prefer to fertilize their lawns after rainfall.

Although you may lose the natural benefit of rainfall (that all-important nitrogen content), however, you’ll be preventing the transportation of dangerous chemicals around your lawn and into your water system.

Without the right care and attention, this can wreak havoc on aquatic wildlife and the environment around you. 

Different Types Of Lawn Fertilizers 

Knowing the right times to fertilize is just one thing.

You’ll also need to know which type of fertilizer to use on your lawn. Although it can be hard to know which type of fertilizer you need for your lawn, you’ll usually find your fertilizers split into two categories: organic and synthetic.

These names are pretty self-explanatory: synthetic fertilizers are made in a lab, while your organic fertilizers are 100% natural. 

Organic Vs Synthetic 

The only major difference between organic and synthetic fertilizers is that your organic fertilizers will nourish the soil, while synthetic versions only feed the plant (or in this case, your lawn). 

Synthetic fertilizers are known for producing better short-term results, however, you may find that the long-term results are unreliable.

In some cases, your lawn can come to depend on synthetic fertilizers, which is one of the biggest downfalls of these products. 

Granular Fertilizer 

Granular fertilizer is a dry form of fertilizer that comes in pellet form. Most granular fertilizers come in the form of a slow-release product, however, you may find some products in quick-release form.

With a slow-release fertilizer, your granules will gradually release nutrients to your grass over a longer, sustained period which can boost nutrient production and keep your grass healthy for longer. 

  • Granular fertilizer is easy to spread on the soil 
  • Slow-release version can provide gentle and long-term feeding 
  • Granular fertilizers won’t need to be applied as often as water-soluble fertilizers 

However, there are a few drawbacks of granular fertilzer you should be aware of: 

  • Some granular fertilizers can burn your grass 
  • These fertilizers will need moisture to help the nutrients break down into the grass 
  • If your fertilizer is left in dry soil, it may damage the roots in your lawn 
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If you’re going to be using granular fertilizer, here are a few tips and tricks to get you started: 

  • We’d recommend using a mechanical spreader in over your lawn for better coverage 
  • If your granular fertilizer has come into contact with foliage surrounding your lawn, wipe it off immediately 
  • Ensure you activate your fertilizer first by giving it some moisture just after you apply it 

Liquid Or Water-Soluble Fertilizer 

Liquid fertilizers are one of the most common fertilizers out there.

These concentrated liquids can be added to water and then spread across your lawn or your other plants. Liquid fertilizers may ensure higher bioavailability of fertilizer nutrients, as they are more easily dissolved. 

  • Because liquid fertilizer can be diluted, it’s much easier to adjust the strength of your fertilizer when you mix it yourself 
  • These fertilizers are ideal for fast-growing lawns because they can be absorbed quickly, but they rarely burn your lawn

However, if you’re planning to use a liquid fertilizer, you’ll need to be prepared to treat your lawn more regularly. Unfortunately, liquid fertilizer tends to flow through the soil much more quickly, which will mean you’ll need to treat your lawn more regularly. 

If you’re using a liquid fertilizer, we’d recommend using a hose-end sprayer to cover much larger areas. If you have a small patch of lawn, a watering can do the job adequately. 

Knowing How To Use The Right Fertilizer 

Remember: different fertilizers are made for different application times. Although some people fertilize their lawns a few times a year, others don’t at all.

However, if you do want to start feeding your lawn a few times a year, here are the most essential things you should be doing: 

  • Fertilize your lawn on a regular basis: usually once in Spring, once in the Summer, and once in the Fall will suffice 

For best results, you may even choose to fertilize your lawn four times a year: once in the Spring, twice in the Summer, and once in the Fall.

In the Spring, we’d recommend between March-April, in the Summer between May and July, and in the Fall between September and November. 

The Bottom Line 

Although there are no hard and fast rules for when you should fertilize your lawn after rainfall (or only when you’re expecting a light drizzle) seems best.

This is the best way to encourage the full effects of your fertilizer and protect the environment around you while you’re at it.

Just remember to choose the right fertilizer for your lawn, avoid over-fertilizing, and protect any foliage around your lawn from coming into contact with the fertilizer.