Applying Fertilizer to Wet Grass: What You Need to Know

Fertilizing your lawn can be a bit of a puzzle. When is the best time to apply it? How much should you use? And what happens if it starts raining right before you’re about to fertilize? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll answer all your burning questions about applying fertilizer to wet grass.

Can You Apply Fertilizer to Wet Grass?

Yes, you can apply fertilizer to wet grass, and it might even enhance its effectiveness. But there are a few conditions to keep in mind. First, the grass should not be waterlogged. Second, you should use either granular or liquid fertilizers that are meant to be diluted. Avoid using foliar fertilizers on wet grass.

How Does Wet Grass Affect Fertilizer Application?

When fertilizer is applied to damp or wet grass that is not waterlogged, it will be just as effective as when applied to dry grass. However, if the grass is waterlogged or there is standing water on the soil, the fertilizer may become too diluted, losing 60% or more of its potency.

Foliar fertilizers, although less common, are also less effective when applied to wet grass. Waiting at least 24 hours after rain or watering before applying foliar fertilizers, and another 24 hours before watering again, will ensure you get the most out of them.

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Evaluating Lawn Wetness

To determine if you can apply fertilizer to your lawn or how long you need to wait, you need to assess how wet your lawn is.

Damp After a Light Rain or Regular Watering

If your lawn is damp, you’ll notice droplets on the grass blades near the ground, but the space between and underneath the blades won’t be muddy. If you have sandy soil, the ground may even feel somewhat dry. This is the perfect condition for applying fertilizer, and you’ll only need to water it in lightly.

Soaked After Heavy Rain or Deep Watering

Many granular fertilizers require deep watering before or after application. This can be accomplished by running sprinklers or a hose over your lawn for about 20 to 30 minutes, or by letting 1 to 3 hours of steady rain do the job. Afterward, allow an hour or two for the water to settle. There should be no puddles or standing water, and the grass should remain firm when pressure is applied.

If your lawn meets these criteria, it’s safe to apply any standard liquid or granular fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer should not be watered further, while granular fertilizer should be lightly watered to help the particles set.

Waterlogged or Flooded

If your lawn has pools or standing water above the ground and around the base of the grass blades, do not add any fertilizer. Even foliar feeding should be avoided until the pools clear up, even if the grass blades are dry.

Hydrophobic and Special Circumstances

There is one condition where the grass and ground may appear dry or damp, but fertilizer should not be applied. This occurs when the soil repels water, making it impossible for water and fertilizer to be absorbed. To address this issue, which can be caused by a lack of humus in the soil, clay compaction, or severe dryness and heat, the soil must be corrected before applying any fertilizer.

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Although foliar feed may temporarily help in this situation, without addressing the underlying problem, the lack of water and air will cause the grass to die. Manual or chemical aeration is often necessary to fix this soil issue.

Applying Fertilizer in the Rain

If you have a good applicator and the rain is light, you can apply fertilizer in the rain without adverse effects. However, it’s generally best to apply fertilizer before or after the rain, as this gives you a chance to inspect the grass and soil for dampness. Properly watering the fertilizer is crucial for optimal results.

Application of Different Lawn Fertilizer Types on Wet Grass

The type of fertilizer you plan to use determines how wet the grass can be during application.

Liquid Fertilizers and Teas

Liquid fertilizers and compost or manure teas can be applied to damp or even soaked ground, although slightly damp or dry ground is preferred. Avoid applying liquid fertilizers if there is standing water or if the water tends to run off the ground.

Granular Fertilizers

Granular fertilizers are the most forgiving when it comes to applying them to wet grass. They can be applied to damp or soaked lawns to conserve water and aid in absorption. If applied to lawns with standing water or deep mud, the granular fertilizer may dilute quickly, losing some efficacy but not all.

Foliar Feed or Foliar Fertilizer

Foliar fertilizers should never be applied to wet grass. For them to be effective, they must be applied to dry grass, preferably after skipping watering the day before. Applying foliar fertilizer to wet grass will likely require reapplication once the grass dries.

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Remember, if you apply liquid fertilizer to wet or waterlogged grass, it may be less effective but not entirely ineffective. Granular fertilizer loses the least potency when applied to standing water.

Hopefully, this article has demystified the process of applying fertilizer to wet grass. Just remember to consider the wetness of your lawn, the type of fertilizer you are using, and follow the guidelines provided. A healthy, vibrant lawn awaits!