Fertilizing your lawn as soon as you’re done aerating is an excellent idea. Depending on your lawn’s condition, use one of these fertilizers:
- Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to thin lawns.
- If your lawn is stressed, brown, or yellow, use a slow-release fertilizer.
- Spread lawn-starter fertilizer if you are overseeding your lawn after aeration.
By selecting the right type of fertilizer based on your lawn’s condition, you’ll provide your grass with exactly what it needs. Then, it can take advantage of the soil you loosened through aeration. You’ll witness an incredible growth spurt in your lawn.
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Can You Fertilize Right After Aerating?
One of the best things you can do for your lawn is to spread fertilizer right after aerating. When you aerate your lawn, you create small holes. These holes allow fertilizer granules to collect, so they won’t wash away when you water your lawn. This means more fertilizer will soak into the soil.
- It is extremely beneficial to fertilize grass immediately after aerating.
- Fertilizer is less likely to wash away if it is applied to a recently aerated lawn.
- Nutrients in fertilizer will absorb into the soil better if the lawn has just been aerated.
Aeration holes also add another benefit to fertilizer. By allowing fertilizer granules to find their way into aeration holes, the nutrients in the fertilizer will be released directly into the grass root zone. So, the fertilizer will be more effective at fully penetrating the soil. Then, it will be able to deliver nutrients to your grass for months to come.
Should You Fertilize or Seed After Aeration?
It is best to aerate your lawn first, then spread grass seed, and finally add fertilizer. However, there is no need to wait between these steps. You can perform them all on the same day if you want. Below, we’ll recommend the best fertilizer for newly seeded, aerated lawns, so there’s no guesswork involved.
- Spreading grass seed and fertilizing are both good choices after aerating your lawn.
- Aerate first, then overseed, then apply fertilizer.
- Applying fertilizer last will help feed your grass seed in the early stages of life.
- Below, we have selected the ideal fertilizer to use after aerating and overseeding.
Whether you are planning on overseeding your lawn or fertilizing, it’s best to do them both after aerating. There are several other essential lawn care steps you should take after aerating. They will all boost the performance of your grass and result in a healthier, weed-free lawn.
3 Best Fertilizers to Use After Aeration
There is no single fertilizer that is always the best choice after aeration. Depending on the condition of your lawn and whether or not you are spreading new grass seed, you will need a specialized fertilizer. Here are the best options:
For Thin Lawns
If your grass has bare spots, dead areas, or is thin enough in some places that weeds can invade, use a high-nitrogen fertilizer after aeration. Fertilizers with high nitrogen content, little to no phosphorus, and trace amounts of potassium will encourage thicker, greener grass quickly. So, your lawn will fill in within weeks after aerating.
- This high-nitrogen fertilizer will encourage healthier grass quickly after aerating.
- We chose a fertilizer with 32% nitrogen, 0% phosphorus, and 4% potassium.
- Nitrogen is the most essential nutrient for a greener, thicker lawn.
Avoid fertilizers labeled for use in gardens. Often, these fertilizers have a high phosphorus percentage. Phosphorus is essential for garden plants but almost useless for mature grass plants. The runoff from high-phosphorus fertilizers can damage the environment, so it is best to only use these fertilizers when your lawn truly needs them. By sticking to a high-nitrogen, low-phosphorus fertilizer, you’ll encourage your established grass to spread and fill in bare spots quickly.
- Works to feed and strengthen your lawn.
- Helps your lawn absorb and use water and nutrients better.
- You can use this fertilizer on any grass type.
For Stressed Lawns
If your newly aerated lawn has brown or yellow patches caused by heat or drought, use an organic, slow-release fertilizer. The high nitrogen content in the fertilizer we recommended for thin lawns can sometimes dry out struggling lawns even further. Slow-release fertilizers won’t cause this damage. They will take longer to activate and green up your lawn, but they will gently improve the health of struggling grass without risking additional damage.
- If you aerated a lawn with brown or yellow patches, use this organic fertilizer with slow-release nitrogen.
- Organic, slow-release fertilizers won’t dry out grass, so they’re safe for struggling lawns.
- Spread 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn.
- A walk-behind lawn spreader is the best tool for spreading fertilizer.
In order to properly fertilize your grass after aerating, it’s best to apply 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 grass feet of lawn. The slow-release fertilizer we chose contains 6% nitrogen, by weight. So, spread 16 pounds (about half of a bag of fertilizer) for every 1,000 square feet of grass. The fertilizer will begin working instantly, but you will see the full benefits within 1 to 3 months.
For Overseeded Lawns
If you have decided to aerate, spread grass seed, and fertilize your lawn, you need a specialized lawn starter fertilizer. Unlike established grass, new grass seed requires fertilizer with higher levels of phosphorus. The additional phosphorus helps your grass seeds develop healthy roots. If you use a standard lawn fertilizer, your seedlings may struggle and die.
- If you spread grass seed after aerating, feed it with this lawn starter fertilizer.
- Lawn starter fertilizers contain higher levels of phosphorus seedlings need to develop roots.
- After using lawn starter fertilizer after aeration and seeding, switch to standard fertilizer for future applications.
You only need to use a lawn-starter fertilizer once to help establish new grass seedlings. During subsequent fertilizer applications, use a high-nitrogen fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer. I’ve gotten the best results from using both types, which is why I’ve created this hybrid fertilizer schedule that will keep your lawn healthy long after you aerate.
Should You Add Compost After Aeration?
The only time you need to add compost after aerating your lawn is if you plan to spread grass seed. Compost is a better top dressing than soil for grass seed. It protects grass seeds and keeps them moist. Plus, it has enough trace nutrients to help grass seedlings in the early stages of life.
- Only add compost after aerating if you are going to spread new grass seed.
- Compost is great for sprouting and protecting grass seeds.
- Using compost without grass seed won’t provide good results.
- Compost contains far fewer nutrients than fertilizer, so it won’t provide a large boost.
- Fertilizer may not absorb into your yard as well if compost has filled the holes left by aeration.
If you’re not going to spread new grass seed, it’s not necessary to add compost to your lawn after you’re done aerating. Compost contains very low levels of nutrients, so it won’t provide enough fuel for grass growth long-term. You’ll get better results from fertilizer. Fertilizing over compost also isn’t the best option. The holes left by aeration will be filled in with compost, which can make it more likely for fertilizer to run off your lawn, rather than penetrate the soil.
What Fertilizer Do You Put Down After Aeration?
If your lawn is thin, sparse, or has bare spots, use a high-nitrogen fertilizer immediately after aerating. High-nitrogen fertilizer will encourage fast grass blade and stem growth, which will help fill in your lawn. In the event your lawn is drought-stressed or discolored, use a slow-release, organic fertilizer. Slow-acting fertilizers are best for stressed lawns because they prevent further damage and slowly nurture your grass back to health. Finally, if you decide to overseed after aerating, choose a lawn-starter fertilizer. Lawn-starters have the high phosphorus content your new grass seed needs to grow healthy roots.