Lawn – Too Much Fertilizer

Q: Help! It appears that I put too much fertilizer on my grass. I have bermudagrass in the front yard and zoysia in the back. Last week I put three forty pound bags of 34-0-0 on my five thousand square foot yard. It has started to wilt and brown up. Is it to late or is there something that I might be able to put on it to save it? Is it completely gone or will it eventually come back to life?

A: Yikes!! The usual rate for 34-0-0 is three pounds per thousand square feet. You put on eight times too much. At this point all you can do is irrigate every few days and hope the water eventually washes the fertilizer out of the soil. Urea fertilizer tends to decompose pretty rapidly under the moist, hot conditions of summertime.

Grass will not grow as long as excessive nitrogen remains. How to tell when it is safe to plant again? I’d sprinkle fescue seed in a different three foot square area every week and observe the germination rate. When the grass seems to germinate and stay alive for a couple of weeks it’s worth laying a couple of squares of sod on your lawn and seeing how the grass reacts. If the sod roots and the grass blades do not turn brown you’re ready to re-sod the whole lawn. I wouldn’t expect to be able to re-sod until mid-August and maybe not even then

Of course you could always scrape off the top three inches of soil and replace with screened topsoil. You would be ready to lay sod next week. Maybe you could sell to your neighbors as fertilizer the dirt you remove!

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